You Need to Make This for Dinner: Protein-Packed Meaty Minestrone

Meaty Minestrone | Photo by Becca Boyd

Meaty Minestrone | Photo by Becca Boyd

Ah, Sunday. I love you so much — why can’t there be two of you? These days, Sunday means football, fires, and soup. Giant pots of soup. Sometimes the soup attracts extra diners at my dinner table, but when it doesn’t, we have dinner set for Monday night —and sometimes even Tuesday. I’ve convinced my children that the vegetables in soup just taste like “soup” so they’re on board; my gluten-free, hungry husband can eat as many servings as he likes; and I like that it’s light and healthy. This particular soup has been made too many times to count this fall, and the colors make it fitting for holiday fun.

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MAKE: Creamy (Dairy-Free!) White Bean and Chicken Chili

White Bean and Chicken Chili | Photo by Becca Boyd

White Bean and Chicken Chili | Photo by Becca Boyd

I’ve always liked white chili better than red but I find that most recipes can be a bit heavy. This is a shame, really, because the combination of beans, chicken, peppers and onions is a recipe for success (in both the health and the taste departments). Allow me to show you how beautiful compromise can be: By pureeing white beans you achieve the creamy texture of a heavier chili without any rich dairy products.

This recipe makes a big batch, perfect for Sunday company and football watching. Make sure to have lots of tortilla chips on hand for topping, as we all know that’s the best part.

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MAKE: No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Protein Bites

No-bake chocolate-peanut butter protein bites | Photo  by Becca Boyd

No-bake chocolate-peanut butter protein bites | Photo by Becca Boyd

I know: These chocolate-peanut butter bites look unappealing. I probably wouldn’t make them for anything the teensiest bit elegant, i.e. baby shower, bridal shower, or brunch. What can you make these for? Your hungry husband, your growing children, your after-dinner healthy snack, your bestie who just had a baby, the trillions of relatives staying in your house for Thanksgiving, or for your pre-workout mini breakfast. For those things, this actually couldn’t be more perfect.

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Recipe: The 130-Calorie Make-Ahead Salad to Keep in Your Fridge at All Times

Make-ahead broccoli salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Make-ahead broccoli salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

I’m all for big salads that hold up in your fridge for days. Why? Well, because if your desire for wholesome, fast food eclipses your need for variety (like mine does), you’ve got a starting point for countless meals as the week wears on. With this broccoli salad, you can add chopped chicken or tuna for a weekday lunch or use it for a little color to round out an otherwise boring dinner plate.

This salad is teeming with autumn’s bounty – not to mention a stellar fiber count (and we all know fiber is a superstar in the weight-loss department). It can be served room temperature and travels extremely well, making it a perfect pot-luck dish. Plus, your gluten-free friends will give you a wink for not showing up with yet another pasta salad. Long story short: This recipe is an all-around winner.

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Bake These: Chocolate-Chia-Cherry Granola Bars

Chocolate-Chia-Cherry Granola Bars | Photo by Becca Boyd

Chocolate-Chia-Cherry Granola Bars | Photo by Becca Boyd

Ah, bars. They call to me. Last week I had a protein bar and a bowl of ice cream for dinner. I’d been cooking all day and didn’t think making a meal for myself was worth the effort. This is sad. Take it from someone who knows: If you find yourself relying too heavily on what should be a last resort snack, it’s time to get back in the kitchen — you’re worth it (I’m pointing my finger at myself).

You know by now that homemade is always better (planet, wallet, you get it), and big-batch is a time-saver as well. These Chocolate-Cherry-Chia Granola Bars are brimming with satiating components: walnuts, chia seeds, and coconut oil check all the boxes in the “fat equals full” category, and these bars work equally well for breakfast, a pre or post-workout bite, an afternoon snack, or dessert. Add making these to your to-do list on Sunday afternoon and your week will be better for it — trust me.

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Your New Favorite Breakfast: Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats

Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats | Photo by Becca Boyd

Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats | Photo by Becca Boyd

I never skip breakfast. This is not to say that my breakfasts are always Insta-worthy, though. In fact, the concoctions are getting weirder and weirder in my efforts to make the meal a quick one: a cheese stick, an apple, and the crust from the kids’ toasts? I can do better.

Enter this make-ahead overnight oatmeal. It’s as quick a meal as a cheese stick but far and away more satisfying — and far more Insta-worthy, too. If you whip it up and store in glass jars, you can microwave them straight from the fridge, stir in your sweetener of choice, and be out the door before the coffee finishes its drip.

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5 Fridge Staples of a Hungry Healthy-Food Blogger

I recently conversed with two ladies who both, in all seriousness, professed to having “forgotten to eat for a whole day.” I gaped at them in total bewilderment. Aside from the occasional stomach bug, I’ve never missed a meal — let alone a whole day of meals. I’m a hungry girl. I eat a beautiful diet full of produce, healthy fats, and protein for all the right reasons, one of which is satiating my hunger whilst maintaining my shape. I never skip breakfast (the horror!) and rarely go three hours without a snack.

Why so hungry? I’m over trying to figure it out.

Instead, I’ve become a consistent believer in “volumetrics,” and have learned there are certain foods that I can shamelessly eaten with abandon, as in, I’m going to eat until I feel full. These are my go-to foods to get me back on track after the scale creeps or I’ve attended one too many kids’ birthday parties. If you, too, are an always-hungry girl like me, take note.

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Recipe: Lighter (And More Delicious!) Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Chicken Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Chicken salad is a make-ahead, crowd-pleasing healthy option for a back to school party or potluck. Do I sense some raised eyebrows? I’m not referring to chicken salad of ye olden days: one drenched in mayonnaise. This vinaigrette-dressed salad is full of veggies, protein, and healthy fats — and way less mayo than you’d find in your nearest deli’s variation.

Not feeding a crowd? Either half the recipe or plan on freezing leftovers in plastic sandwich bags so you have perfectly portioned lunches to toss over mixed greens or fill a whole-wheat pita!

This recipe is incredibly straightforward (read: pretty hard to mess up), so I will let the instructions speak for themselves. One thing to note, though: I chose to poach the chicken because I find it yields the most tender results. To poach a food you cook it at a near simmer. This means that as it cooks, you should see a bit of movement in the water, but no bubbles. If you bubble away your chicken it will not be tender, it will be tough and chewy. Just glance at the pot a few times and make sure it’s not simmering. Easy.

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Make: Simple Tomato and Corn Summer Salad

Tomato and Corn Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Tomato and Corn Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Fact: If we had delicious produce at the ready all year like we do in August, healthy eating would be pure joy. During this time of year, tomatoes and corn taste like they’re supposed to taste — especially if they’re bought at a roadside stand on the way home from the Shore. And this side dish, which can easily be turned into a main dish with the addition of some greens and protein, epitomizes the simplicity and ease of summertime cooking.

The secret to this recipe is in the corn. Make sure you cook the corn until it’s turning golden and the bottom of the pan is glazed and sticky. The other amazing complement is the jalapeño, so don’t skip out on this. First you get a salty-sweet taste, then the finish is pure spice. Trust me: The end result is well worth the bit of time spent in the kitchen during the dog days of summer.

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Make This: 5-Ingredient Balsamic-Cherry Pork Tenderloin

Recipe: Cherry-Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Balsamic-Cherry Pork Tenderloin | Photo by Becca Boyd

To be perfectly honest, this recipe for Balsamic-Cherry Pork Tenderloin produces a flavor profile I’m not as used to; I use allspice in granola and some cookies but not usually on meat. Plus, cherries? But trust me: Different can be a good thing.

I think so many people see recipe ideas that seem out of the ordinary and shy away from them. The thing is, cooking unique recipes is a great way to expand your palate. Just because it’s unfamiliar doesn’t mean it won’t taste delicious. Plus, the more ways you know how to prepare healthy food, the more likely you are to stay on track with your healthy-eating plans.

This is a wonderful weeknight meal because the ingredients are few — you only need five ingredients, excluding salt and pepper! — and the technique is simple. Cherry season is too short for my liking, but frozen fruit is just as good for you as fresh and, in this case, frozen fruit works just perfectly. If you want to swap half a small onion for the shallot, feel free; just slice it paper-thin so it loses its bite while it cooks. Happy cooking!

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