Make This: Chicken, Quinoa and Cashew Casserole

Chicken, Quinoa and Cashew Casserole | Photo by Becca Boyd

I love casseroles in theory; in actuality, they’re usually full of ingredients I avoid at dinnertime. I’m talking egg noodles, sour cream, canned soup, spice packets, etc. I also need it to be easy — I don’t want to cook each part separately then put it together just so I can call it a one-dish-meal. This recipe checks all the necessary boxes and it’s a dieter’s dream, full of protein and low in calories.

This would be great to make on a Sunday afternoon if your typical workday ends late. Scooped into bowls and reheated on Monday (and maybe Tuesday) and served with some mixed greens or veggies, it’s a beautifully healthy and easy meal. This would also be the ideal meal for a new mom or a family in need. Egg, dairy, and gluten-free (if you use GF hoisin and tamari), it can be made in a disposal pan and brought with a box of mixed greens (and a bottle of wine, because hello).

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Make: The Gluten-Free Banana Bread That Actually Tastes Good

Gluten-Free Banana Bread | Photo by Rebecca Boyd

Let me just say: As someone who can eat gluten-filled grains, I’ll never make another banana bread. The beauty in the gluten-free phase (while it certainly comes with its cons) is that we’re learning to cook with different grains and bake with different flours.

As someone who is always looking to fit in more protein and fiber, baking with almond meal is pretty much as good as it gets. In some recipes, it yields a grainy finish to your baked good, but not here. This bread comes together quickly (and easily — no mixer required!), rises beautifully, and was eaten in my house in 24 hours. I literally can’t wait to make it again.

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Make This: One-Skillet Citrus-Chili Shrimp and Green Beans

Citrus-chili shrimp and green beans | Photo by Becca Boyd

Citrus-chili shrimp and green beans | Photo by Becca Boyd

I’m a big fan of dishes where the meat and vegetables cook together in the same sauce. Typically I avoid short cuts (like prepared sauces) because they can be loaded with sugar, salt and preservatives, but frozen vegetables, when they work in a recipe, are fantastic timesavers. Why clean, trim and steam green beans when they come prepped (and are just as healthy)? You’re right: There is no logical reason.

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Recipe: 7-Ingredient Double-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Double-stuffed sweet potatoes | Photo by Becca Boyd

Double-stuffed sweet potatoes | Photo by Becca Boyd

This right here is my version of comfort food (well, this and bacon cheeseburgers). That would be real food that comes together in a way that makes every single bite grin-inducing. If the hour roast time isn’t realistic for your weeknight schedule, I’ve got you covered: When you’re deep in your next Sunday Netflix binge, throw a bunch of sweet potatoes in the oven. Stored in Tupperware in your fridge, you’re just a reheat away from a ton of options, including this dish. Bonus: the dish only requires seven ingredients (excluding salt, pepper and cooking spray), most of which are probably in your fridge right now.

Though it can hold its own as a main dish, it’d be the perfect accompaniment to some grilled meat or fish. With temperatures rising, just send the grill master in your life outside and tell him or her you’ll meet them at the table, healthy decadence in hand.

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Make This Today: Shrimp Egg Drop Soup

Shrimp Egg Drop Soup | Photo by Rebecca Boyd

Shrimp Egg Drop Soup | Photo by Becca Boyd

March is a tricky month in Philly. We happily trade our parkas for bomber jackets only to get a blast of icy wind or even (please no) a freak snowstorm. It’s for this reason I love a spring soup. Light in calories but full of fiber and protein, it’s a way to prepare for bathing suit season while staying warm from the downright chilly early spring breezes.

This soup packs an amazing flavor punch. With garlic, ginger, soy, vinegar, sesame, honey and tamari this is umami rich. The broth itself is so flavorful with a delicate sweetness and a hit of spice in the back of your throat from the Sriracha. With a dinner this good (and warm!) to come home to, you can enjoy the extra hour of daylight outside, shivering with your friends.

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Make: The Protein-Packed Squash Soup That Will Actually Keep You Full

Butternut Squash Soup | Photo by Becca Boyd

Butternut Squash Soup | Photo by Becca Boyd

It’s time for an admission of guilt: I used to see the peeled, cubed, cellophane-covered packages of butternut squash and feel superior for buying mine at the farmers’ market and hacking it up myself. This sophomoric thinking sucked up too many minutes of my life, not to mention dulled the heck out of my chef’s knife. Nowadays, I’m happy to pay someone to do the work for me when it comes to squash (and incidentally, broccoli slaw), especially when it leads to a gorgeously healthy dinner like this.

Chockfull of protein and fiber, this stunner will easily keep you full past the usual 10 o’clock bedtime snack pangs and packs easily for a soul-warming lunch the next day. Free from dairy and gluten, this should works for many diets while keeping those healthy-eating resolutions intact.

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Recipe: Make-Ahead Roasted Broccoli and White Bean Salad

Roasted Broccoli and White Bean Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Roasted Broccoli and White Bean Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Let’s talk about flexible cooking. I’ll use this recipe as an example. This can be made ahead or made to order; it’s delicious warm but also cold; it’s a whole meal in and of itself or a side dish for any meat or fish. Bottom line: If this is prepped and in your fridge, you’re ready for anything.

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MAKE: Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash With Quinoa and Chicken

Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash | Photo by Becca Boyd

Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash | Photo by Becca Boyd

I bought a few gorgeous acorn squash at the market and then they sat in my pull-out pantry … for, like, three weeks. I was frozen in indecision, and maybe feeling a little lazy. But eventually, I buckled down to whip up this recipe, filled with healthy (and gluten-free!) grains and lean protein, that checks off all the important meal boxes: light, delicious and downright drool-worthy.

The good news is, though, if you never stop feeling lazy, acorn squash has an even sweeter flavor than butternut and with some salt and coconut oil, it’s quite special on its own. In fact, you can eat it just like you would a sweet potato.

But if the cooking mood does strike you, the recipe below is sure to satisfy.

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Recipe: Thai-Inspired Coconut Chicken with Pasta (Or Zoodles!)

Thai Coconut Chicken and Pasta | Photo by Becca Boyd

Thai Coconut Chicken and Pasta | Photo by Becca Boyd

Have you ever perused a recipe and wondered how the specific combination of ingredients listed could possibly taste good? When that happens to me, I usually feel compelled to make it as soon as possible. Perhaps, unlike me, you shy away from unknown flavors? If that’s the case, you’ll have to trust me on this one. I could eat this sauce straight with a spoon.

This recipe is wonderful applied to zoodles or a gluten-free pasta, but the traditional whole-wheat variety works well, too. While you can customize the noodles or even the vegetables, don’t get too carried away. What I’m trying to say is: Don’t touch the sauce. It’s a perfectly balanced blend of salty, sweet, and spicy with big flavor hits from the garlic and ginger.

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MAKE: The Guilt-Free Muffins Guaranteed to Make Your Mornings Glorious

Morning Glory Muffins | Photo by Becca Boyd

Morning Glory Muffins | Photo by Becca Boyd

It really doesn’t get better for me than muffins, for several reasons: they bake all at once, they’re portable, they can be healthy, and both the kids and the adults in the house can happily (and healthfully) partake. What’s not to love?

These muffins are my take on Morning Glory Muffins, which have become pretty common, though they originated in the ’70’s in a Nantucket restaurant. From my laundry list of ingredients here you will see they’re sort of an “everything but the kitchen sink” combination but the general flavor is simply wintry, what with all that cinnamon.

Using whole-wheat flour and coconut oil means I can feel good about giving it to my kids for breakfast, and though there is some sugar (1/2 c. brown sugar) as well as sweetness from the coconut, remember: It’s divided up into 24 muffins. Hold on I’ll do the math — okay, that’s one teaspoon of brown sugar per muffin. Not bad. Carrots and apples provide more sweetness along with fiber (and great texture). Happy baking!

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