20 Nutrition Experts’ Favorite 5-Minute Meals
"Eating more protein in the morning, like these eggs, helps to prevent sugar cravings later in the day," says Jessica Grajeda, a nutrition counselor and owner of Renew Health Coaching. The healthy carbs provide additional satiety and energy, so this is also a good post-workout snack.
Top 2 white corn tortillas with 2 tablespoons salsa and 1 tablespoon part-skim mozzarella each. Microwave until cheese is melted, about 30 seconds. Lightly mist a skillet with olive oil spray and heat over high. Add 2 beaten eggs to the pan and scramble. Once cooked as desired, divide between tacos.
Santa Fe Salad
Healthy shortcuts—store-bought pico, canned black beans, and frozen corn—minimize prep time but also add tons of nutrition to this delicious, satiating salad. "It provides a few servings of veggies, a whole grain, a high-fiber lean protein, and good fats, and each of the ingredients is loaded with antioxidants," says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., author of S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim
. "And while it's a generous amount of food, afterward I feel nourished and invigorated, not stuffed or sluggish."
Toss together 3/4 cup organic greens, 1/4 cup pico de gallo, and 1/2 cup each rinsed and drained canned black beans and thawed frozen organic corn. Top with 1/4 sliced avocado.
Tuna and Avocado Pita
This meal has it all—whole grains, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats, a serving of veggies, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals—so it will stabilize blood sugar levels for energy and leave you satisfied until your next meal, says Shannon Weston, a registered dietitian for the University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center.
Halve and lightly toast a whole-wheat pita. Meanwhile mix together 1 pouch (about 2 ounces) tuna, 2 tablespoons spicy mustard, 1/4 cup each shredded carrots and chopped celery, and a dash each turmeric, cumin, and black pepper. Split tuna mixture between pita halves and top with sliced avocado.
Eggs or an egg white omelet make a balanced and nourishing meal that's perfect anytime of day, says registered nutritionist Theresa Albert.“They contain every nutrient required to sustain life, including B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, selenium, and choline, plus each egg has about eight grams of protein." She likes to add feta, Greek yogurt, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or hummus to boost the protein even more, as well as last night's veggies, whether that's a wilted salad or roasted squash.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Soak a paper towel with grapeseed oil and wipe the pan, leaving a thin layer. Add 1 or 2 beaten eggs, a couple tablespoons additional protein (if desired), and 1/2 cup veggies. Cover, turn heat down to medium low, and let cook over for about 2 to 3 minutes, until eggs are firm.
Pan-seared Salmon and Crispy Tomatoes over Quinoa
A healthy and impressive dinner can come together in a flash. “The salmon provides lean protein and omega-3 fats that fight aging and support heart health; quinoa is a complete protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids; and antioxidants from basil, balsamic vinegar, and tomatoes also fight aging and inflammation," says Michelle Davenport, a nutritionist specializing in anti-aging at the University of California, San Francisco. Talk about a super meal.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and lightly coat with olive oil. Season 1 fillet (3 to 5 ounces) salmon and, once oil is hot, sear skin-side down. Meanwhile reheat 1/2 cup cooked quinoa. Flip salmon when opaque more than halfway through. Add 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes and sauté. Fluff quinoa and spread out on plate. Top with salmon and tomatoes. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into the hot pan and reduce for 15 seconds over medium heat. Pour over dish and top with fresh basil leaves, if desired.
Feed your body inside and out with this meal. "The spinach packs bone-building vitamin K, and the kalamata olives do wonders for your skin, providing moisture from the inside out, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, and, more importantly, keeping your heart healthy," says Peggy Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist and host of Veria Living's Peggy K's Kitchen Cures.
Place 1 sprouted grain wrap or tortilla in a frying pan over medium heat and spread 1/4 cup hummus on top. Layer 2/3 cup spinach, 3 tablespoons chopped olives, and 1 tablespoon oregano on half the wrap and fold other half on top. Cover frying pan for 1 minute to wilt spinach, then serve.
Cottage Cheese with Fruit and Nuts
When it comes to dairy, opt for full-fat over nonfat, says Paul Kriegler, R.D., weight-loss specialist at Life Time Fitness. You'll get better flavor, more stable energy, increased satiety, and possible protection against diabetes due to the trans-palmitoleic acid, he says. Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that people who had the highest level of this fatty acid in their blood had three times less risk of developing diabetes, better lipid profiles, less body fat, and better markers of inflammation.
Scoop 1 cup full-fat cottage cheese into a bowl and top with 1 handful sliced fruit or nuts, or a little of both.
Swiss Chard Veggie Wraps
Upgrade your lettuce wraps by using nutrient-dense Swiss chard, says registered dietitian Colleen Hurley. "This is sure to energize, as it is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and antioxidants, plus fiber and protein to keep you satisfied," she says.
Blanch Swiss chard by dipping leaves into boiling water for a few seconds, then quickly rinse in cold water. Pat dry. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons hummus evenly onto each leaf, top with 1/4 cup shredded carrots and 1 to 2 slices roasted red pepper, and roll into a wrap. You can also add low-fat mozzarella, pepperoncini, sliced turkey, or leftover veggies.
Lazy Lentil Soup
Lentils are chock-full of protein, fiber, and iron, but alone they're boring. Jazz up canned lentil soup with veggies, however, and you have a delicious superstar meal that also provides vitamin A (key for healthy eyes) and vitamin C (important for immunity and protein metabolism), says registered dietitian Jennifer K. Reilly.
Heat 1 can low-sodium lentil soup and 1 cup mixed frozen veggies in a covered soup pot over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Enjoy with a serving of crackers or multi-grain bread, if desired.
Recipe reprinted w/ permission from Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook - Skinny Dish!, by Jennifer K. Reilly, RD, (c) 2011, Brown Bag Publishers
Cinnamon 'n’ Honey Gluten-Free Waffles
Forget the "waffles for breakfast" notion—these are delish anytime of day. "The fiber keeps you full and holds you over longer, and they are also low in sugar,” says Amie Valpone, a culinary nutritionist and editor for The Healthy Apple.
Top 1 toasted gluten-free waffle with 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, and 1/2 sliced banana. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.
"For a petite number of calories, this complete meal fills you up with healthy plant proteins, whole grains, veggies, and fiber," says Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian and author of
Saute 3 tablespoons chopped mushrooms, 1 tablespoon shredded fresh tofu (optional), and 1/4 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans for about 4 minutes. Meanwhile warm a whole-grain tortilla in the microwave for 15 seconds. Spoon mushroom and bean mixture onto tortilla, add 1/4 cup leafy greens, 1/2 chopped tomato, and 2 slices avocado, and top with 1 tablespoon each shredded cheese and salsa.
Green Bliss Smoothie
This drink includes energizing and detoxifying greens and seeds that will keep you full and sustained for hours, says Lindsey Smith, a health coach and author of Junk Foods and Junk Moods.
In a blender, combine 1/2 cup greens (such as spinach, kale, or dandelion), 1 banana, 1/2 cup unsweetened rice or almond milk, and 2 tablespoons chia seeds or flaxseeds. Blend until smooth.
Southwestern VegetarianCabbage Salad
When you want something with more texture than lettuce or kale, buy some green cabbage, says Traci D. Mitchell, a nutrition coach and creator of the 40-Day Shape Up. At only 17 calories per shredded cup, it's also inexpensive and nutritious. "Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it has strong cancer-fighting properties, especially when eaten raw," she says. "Plus the black beans in this meal make a great vegetarian protein alternative, provide plenty of fiber, and have been shown to regulate blood sugar levels."
Mix 1/4 head shredded cabbage, 3/4 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans, 1/2 cup diced tomato, and 1/4 cup each diced red onion and diced orange pepper. For the dressing, combine 1/4 cup salsa and 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt and pour over salad.
"My healthy take on burritos is low in calories, nutrient-dense, and fun to eat," says Julieanna Hever, R.D., host of Veria Living's What Would Julieanna Do? Nori sheets are only 10 calories each and loaded with essential nutrients, such as iodine, vitamin K, and iron. Match your spread and fillings to your craving.
Spread 1 nori sheet with 1 to 2 tablespoons desired condiment, top with chopped veggies, and roll up burrito style. For a Mediterranean norito, use hummus, then place 2 tablespoons each sliced red bell pepper and cucumber and a few slices olives and sun dried tomatoes in the middle of the sheet and roll up. For Mexican, use guacamole, then top with 1/2 tablespoon each salsa, sliced jicama, and carrots and 1 teaspoon cilantro.
Mighty Bowl of Goodness
“These bowls are especially great for the winter months, as they are warm, filling, hearty, and energizing," says Jess Kolko, a registered dietitian with Whole Foods Market's Health Starts Here program.
Combine grain, fruit or veggies, and protein of choice and garnish with seeds, nuts, or spices. For a noodle bowl, mix together 1/2 cup each cooked whole-wheat pasta and steamed spinach, 1/4 cup each roasted diced zucchini and cooked white beans, and 3 to 4 ounces grilled tofu, salmon, or chicken. Top with 1 teaspoon herbs, such as basil, parsley, or oregano.
In addition to fiber, this portable meal also provides copper thanks to the tahini. "This spread is made from ground sesame seeds, which are high in copper, a mineral that keeps your immune system healthy and plays a role in collagen and red blood cell production," says Rania Batayneh, a nutritionist and author of The 1:1:1 Diet.
Fill 1 whole-wheat tortilla with 1 cup leftover grilled or raw veggies and 2 tablespoons each feta and tahini and wrap up.
Combine soluble fiber from oatmeal with good fats from flaxseed and walnuts, and you get a filling and nutritious breakfast, says Maryanne Jacobsen, a registered dietitian and author of Fearless Feeding.
Mix 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats with 1 cup water and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Top with 1 tablespoon flax meal, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 7 walnut halves, and 2 tablespoons raisins. Stir in 1/2 cup skim milk.
Greek Yogurt Berry Bowl
Greek yogurt, berries, and nuts is not only a delicious trio, it also provides all the essential amino acids to help build muscle and fiber to prevent blood sugar spikes. Nutritionist and trainer David Goldman likes to top it all off with walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids.
Top 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup mixed berries and 1/4 cup nuts. If you need more sweetness, add 1 tablespoon honey.
Veggie Omelet Pita
Registered dietitian Lauren O’Connor loves this any time of the day because it’s filled with B-vitamin-rich eggs, antioxidant-loaded veggies, heart-healthy fat, and whole-grain fiber, which all adds up to lasting energy.
Warm 2 teaspoons olive or grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Beat together 1 egg, 1 egg white, and 1 splash water in a bowl and pour into pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until nearly set. Add 1/2 cup each chopped spinach and mushrooms and cover pan for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until eggs are done to your liking. Fold eggs over and place in whole-grain pita, add raw leafy greens (if desired), and sprinkle with seasonings (O’Connor likes garlic powder and no-salt veggie seasoning).
Energy-Packed Paleo Green Salad
“This is a great recipe to whip together for a post-workout lunch or when you are in a pinch for dinner,” says healthy foods chef Josh Katt, who specializes in clean eating and Paleo cuisine.
Combine 1 chopped chicken breast (about 1/2 cup); 1 cup each baby kale, baby spinach, and romaine; 1/4 cup shredded carrots; and 1/2 sliced avocado. In a separate bowl mix 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, juice of 1/2 lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over salad.