Every New Year, it is commonplace to get on the healthy bandwagon in hopes of changing habits and shaping up. Even though slippage may be inevitable, giving ourselves a little grace to fail, yet get back up and try again.
I am of the belief that forming healthy habits is a lifelong journey. Every new year, I don’t vow to do a dietary overhaul, but I do vow to change a few aspects of my diet each year so that I eat a lot less sugar and processed foods. I have been slowly improving my own habits from non-stop cake eating to moderate cake eating (every few weeks) and meals filled with healthy proteins, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
Starting a healthy regime is not easy in today’s fast-paced society, but success will come with a little discipline and consistency. I figured I’d share ten of my all time favorite healthy options. These dishes help me stay healthy without the boredom of eating the same thing all the time.
Here are TEN of my favorite highly flavorful healthy options to help achieve those annual health goals.
1. Eggs in Purgatory with Fresh Herbs
This is one of my absolute favorite breakfasts! Eggs in Purgatory is very similar to the Middle Eastern and North African dish called shakshuka. But, instead of being seasoned with peppers, cumin, and paprika, it’s seasoned with fresh parsley and parmesan. Eggs in Purgatory is essentially an Italian version of the dish. Deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes seasoned with fresh herbs go incredibly well with a couple of eggs and a generous dusting of parmesan! In the summertime, I’ll use fresh herbs from the garden such as thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, and marjoram to flavor this dish. To brighten the flavor, I add a splash of red wine vinegar.
2. All Veggie Burrito Bowl
I used to stand in ungodly lines for Chipotle Burritos on Broadway and 17th Street in Manhattan. But as spending $11 plus dollars for one began to hurt my soul as much as my wallet, I decided to attempt the drudgery involved in making it at home―from scratch.
If you decide not to cheat, I understand; I admit that making this is a bit of a process! However, the end result is so worth it that you’ll probably do what I did: make double the suggested servings and eat this for lunch and dinner seven nights straight―IT’S THAT GOOD!
3. Mung Bean Lentil Curry
Creating this Mung Bean Lentil Curry is one of my attempts to make life a little easier and even cheaper. For ethical, health, and financial reasons, I’ve been playing around with more plant based foods, and I’m excited to have found some awesome uses for the canister of lentils collecting dust in my pantry.
After gently sautéing the garlic, onions, and ginger, all of the other ingredients except for the butter were added and cooked until lush, lumpy gravy formed. I added the vegan butter at the end, which really pulled the rest of the dish together with a little extra fat.
4. Impossible Vegan Chili
This vegan chili became one of my favorite easy recipes as I adjusted to my new responsibilities and schedule. It only requires 8 ingredients: Impossible burger, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans, fresh garlic, yellow onion, a green bell pepper, Mexican or taco seasoning, and cilantro. Using canned beans and tomatoes cuts down on preparation time without making the dish taste less fresh. The garlic, onion, and bell pepper add a splash of flavor, and any Mexican inspired dry seasoning brings the Impossible meat to life. Top the chili with your favorite vegan cheese and chopped cilantro, and serve with rice. Sometimes I like to eat it with guacamole.
What if you would rather use ground beef, bison, chicken, or turkey? Feel free to do so! Substitute any of your favorite proteins and top your chili with queso or Mexican cheese blend, and a side of sour cream or Mexican crema.
5. Vegan Sourdough Pizza
This pizza uses a sourdough crust, but that can easily be switched out for any yeast raised dough. The pizza dough I used had been fermenting in my refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, so it had a tangier flavor than if I had used dough with a shorter fermentation period.
I used the vegan version of my marinara sauce to give it a sweet layer of flavor.
The vegetables are all roasted prior to placing them on the pizza so that they don’t make the pizza too wet with their natural juices.
At the very end, avocados are added as a cheese replacement. This tastes way better than using a store bought cheese substitute (Hello Die-Yah)!
The end result was a deliciously nutty, tangy, savory, sweet, and peppery pizza with a crisp crust and soft roasted avocado to squish between your teeth.
6. Chicken Caesar Salad
Isn’t chicken Caesar salad just delicious? A homemade one is to die for with its tender, well-seasoned meat, fresh baby greens, and crunchy croutons. Chicken Caesar salad is one of my favorite salads year-round, especially on days when I have homemade dressing to spice it up!
I used homemade Fresh Italian Seasoning and Caesar Dressing to make this recipe. The fresh Italian seasoning give the chicken breasts a deep, robust, and herbaceous flavor. Using dried Italian seasoning is just as delicious. In my opinion, one isn’t better than the other; the flavors are just slightly different. As for the dressing, homemade does taste worlds better than store bought, but use your favorite Caesar dressing if you’re short on time, patience, or both.
7. Chicken with Cream Sauce
This quick chicken with cream sauce recipe is one of my favorites on a night when I want something hearty, yet still healthy. The best part about this recipe is that the sauce is 100% wholesome, made with the natural fats and juices from the chicken, herbs, butter, and crème fraiche. The sauce is savory, tangy, and full of garlic and herbaceous flavors that go well with a side of mashed potatoes, rice, or vegetables.
8. Chicken with Sweet Cashew Sauce
The dishes typically cook up in 30 minutes or less and give us 2 to 3 days of leftovers. This chicken with sweet cashew sauce is one such dish. We cook the chicken in a generous amount of spices, add green onion and garlic for additional flavor, and allow everything to simmer in a simple sweet sauce made of soy sauce and honey.
Serve it on top of a plate of cooked white rice and lettuce and top it all off with chopped fresh cilantro.
If you never get out of work on time but desperately want to cook, then this is for you! It is also easy to make substitutions. Substitute peanuts or almonds for cashews. Substitute turmeric, ginger, and coriander for Asian 5 spice.
9. Spicy Hoisin Chicken
Sriacha is the new sweetheart of chili sauces. It was used to create this ultra-spicy interpretation of General Tso’s Chicken. Even though this may look like a stomach killer, for me it ended up being more of a stomach godsend! Sriacha, after all, is a fermented hot sauce with colonies of healthy gut bacteria. The added ginger not only gives it a “sweat-trickling” kick, but also jumpstarts the flow of your belly!
Fresh vegetables and quality chicken really make this dish refreshing! If you can’t find bok choy in your market, you can use a mixture of broccoli and celery instead. The green and orange peppers can also be substituted for any other variety, and hoisin sauce can be substituted for your favorite barbecue sauce!
10. Sesame Encrusted Salmon Poke Bowl
The salmon in this dish is fried with a sesame seed crust with ground turmeric and ginger. It gets served on a bed of fresh sushi rice, sliced cucumber, sautéed sugar snap peas, and sliced avocado. To make it extra flavorful, drizzle some Teriyaki Sauce on top, and dress it with sliced green onion.
The finished entrée is as beautiful as it is delicious! All of the soft and crunchy textures of the vegetables fully compliment each other, and the teriyaki sauce adds a splash of sweetness.
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