When diets don’t succeed in the long run, it’s usually because you don’t like what you’re eating. But maybe it’s time to accept that just because food is a little better for you, it doesn’t have to be tasteless. You can pack your meals (and snacks, for that matter) with foods that are nutritious and delicious. Over time, you may find you not only like eating well, but it’s something you can sustain. Here are three favorites from three registered dietitians who know about food that’s good and good for you.
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Cups
Makes 12 oatmeal cups
Active time: 40 minutes
• 3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
• ¼ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 medium banana, halved lengthwise and sliced
• 1 cup frozen blueberries
• 1 cup 1% milk
• ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
• 2 large eggs
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla
To make | (1) Preheat your oven to 350° and line a standard-size, 12-cavity muffin tin with cupcake papers (or spray the cavities lightly with non-stick spray). (2) In a medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, the banana and blueberries, and mix well. (3) In a separate medium bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and mix well. (4) Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and gently mix until well combined. (5) Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 prepared muffin cavities and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set and firm to the press of a finger. (6) Cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
What’s good about it | The oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which slows the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full longer. Soluble fiber can also lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. The blueberries contain cancer-fighting antioxidants, and the bananas provide heart-healthy potassium. It is a quick grab-and-go breakfast. You can reheat the muffins for about 20 seconds in the microwave.
Nutrition information | Per muffin (1/12 recipe): 133 calories, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 4 g protein, 2.6 g fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 132 mg sodium Nutrition Bonus: 3 WW points
Mindy Komosinsky, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. She has been a part of Capital Health for more than 27 years, where she provides individual outpatient nutrition counseling and group diabetes education classes and presents programs to the community.
Makes 4 servings
Active time: 40 minutes
• ½ cup water
• ⅓ cup whole-wheat couscous
• 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
• ½ cup chopped fresh mint
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp minced garlic
• ¼ tsp salt, divided
• ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
• 1 pound chicken breasts sliced into strips
• 1 medium tomato, chopped
• 1 cup chopped cucumber
• ¼ cup of crumbled feta cheese
• (4) 10-inch spinach, sun-dried tomato or whole-wheat wraps
To make | (1) Combine parsley, mint, lemon juice, oil, garlic, ⅛ tsp salt and pepper in a small bowl. (2) Toss chicken strips in a medium bowl with 1 T of the parsley mixture and the remaining ⅛ tsp salt. Marinate for 30 minutes. (3) Place the strips in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. (4) Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous and remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set aside. (5) Stir the remaining parsley mixture into the couscous along with tomato, cucumber and 1 T of feta per wrap. (6) To assemble wraps, spread about ¾ cup of the couscous mixture onto each wrap. Divide the chicken among the wraps. Roll the wraps up like a burrito, tucking in the sides to hold in the ingredients. Serve cut in half.
What’s good about it | Whole-wheat couscous is a fast-cooking grain packed with fiber, protein, vitamin B-6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Feta is a strong and salty-flavored cheese that goes a long way in small quantities. It is also a good source of protein and calcium. Opt for a reduced-fat version to limit your saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Mint and parsley are excellent flavoring agents for food without adding salt or fat. Both are aromatic herbs that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Jessica Tsiopelas, RD, is a clinical dietitian for Sodexo at Capital Health. She has more than eight years of clinical experience working with a variety of medical and surgical patients in an acute care clinical setting. She also holds a certificate of training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management.
Reduced-Guilt Thai Drunken Noodles
Makes 4 servings
Active time: 35 minutes
• 3 (8 oz) pkgs of House Foods Tofu Shirataki (fettuccine shaped)
• ½ lb shrimp
• ½ lb baby or regular scallops (you can use chicken, beef, seafood, or tofu for this recipe)
• 1 T corn starch
• ⅛ cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
• ¼ cup shallots, diced (or onion)
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• ½ yellow onion sliced thinly
• pinch of chili flakes
• ¼ cup Thai basil (you can substitute with regular basil)
• 1 ½ tsp lite/low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 T oyster sauce
• 2 ½ tsp brown sugar (not packed)
• ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• non-stick cooking spray
• ½ cup spinach leaves
• 1 head of broccoli chopped into florets
• optional garnish: bean sprouts
* If you like this recipe extra spicy, add 1-2 T Sriracha hot sauce to the sauce.
To make | (1) Rinse and drain Tofu Shirataki noodles very well (this allows the sauce to stick to the noodles better for more flavor). Pat dry using paper towels. Put in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave for 1 minute. Drain excess liquid and again pat dry. Cut noodles to convenient size if necessary.
(2) Combine shrimp, scallops, cornstarch, and water. Toss until evenly coated, and set aside. (3) While over medium-high heat, spray a large wok or skillet with cooking spray. Add shallots, garlic, onions, chili flakes, and ½ of basil leaves, and stir until fragrant, about 3 minutes. (4) Add shrimp and scallops, and cook until shrimp begins to turn pink, about 5 minutes. (5) Stir in fish sauce, oyster sauce, noodles, chicken broth, brown sugar, Sriracha (if desired), red bell peppers, broccoli florets, and spinach. Cook until vegetables just soft. (6) Add remaining basil and, if necessary, add additional broth to moisten noodles. (7) Top with bean sprouts if desired.
What’s good about it | I love Thai food, and one of my guilty pleasures is drunken noodles. This version is a lower-calorie recipe I could make at home when that craving comes along. I made it a skinny recipe by substituting rice noodles for House Foods Tofu Shirataki fettuccine-shaped noodles, which are only 40 calories for an 8 oz bag. I also substituted the large amount of oil that is used and lightly coated my skillet with cooking spray. The sauce ingredients are still high in sodium even when using lite or reduced sodium options, so it definitely isn’t a recipe to make a few times per week but I added more veggies and choose healthy protein and it definitely is a good alternative to having greasy, high-calorie drunken noodles.
Caroline Lazur, RD, is the registered dietitian at the Metabolic & Weight Loss Center at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell.