15 Quick Healthy Meals Doctors and Nutritionists Make Every Day
A nutritionist spoke with fellow health professionals to find out their favourite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that always leaves them satisfied and full.
Coffee Cake Muffins
People often ask what I eat for breakfast: My answer is I make a big batch of these muffins early in the week so I have grab-and-go options ready for busy mornings. These muffins are made with Greek yogurt and eggs for plenty of filling protein, and they provide a burst of energy via instant coffee. I pair a muffin with fruit, such as raspberries or clementines, and 6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese for additional protein. Not a fan of coffee? Give my matcha muffins a try or try these breakfast muffins.
The best part about quick healthy meals is that they don’t require much prep. Here’s a breakfast option that’s ready in minutes. “This smoothie is the one thing my wife and I drink for breakfast every day because it’s got the perfect blend of healthy fats and leafy greens to start the day off right,” says Steven Gundry, MD, author of The Plant Paradox. It contains avocado, offering monounsaturated fats beneficial for heart health, as well as fibre-filled baby spinach and romaine lettuce. Serve the smoothie with a couple of hard-boiled eggs for satiating protein. Looking for a fruit-based smoothie? Try a banana and edamame smoothie or a smoothie with berries, banana, and almond butter.
Turmeric Egg Sandwich
When it comes to quick healthy meals, this protein-rich breakfast is a staple for Natalie Rizzo, RD, a sports dietitian in New York City. “As a runner, I’m always looking for something quick and easy to make after an intense run,” she says. “I almost always opt for a post-workout turmeric egg sandwich,” which she enjoys on whole grain bread. “The turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe my achy knees,” says Rizzo. “The eggs cook up quickly and provide upward of 10 grams protein to aid in recovery.” (Here’s why you may want to eat more eggs.)
This nutritious strawberry kiwi yogurt parfait contains just five ingredients and requires no cooking, so you can whip it up in no time at all. Toby Amidor, MS, RDN, author of The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook and a dietitian in New York City, usually prepares a batch on Sundays to enjoy throughout the week. “The Greek yogurt provides protein, which keeps me satisfied throughout my busy morning, as well as live and active cultures that are helpful for gut health,” she says. The strawberry and kiwi provide the immune-helping vitamin C. For a vegan parfait, use coconut yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.
“I make these California breakfast tacos at least weekly,” says Brynn McDowell, RD, a dietitian in Livermore, California. “They are ready in less than 10 minutes, making them perfect for a quick breakfast even on mornings that are hectic. They contain all the nutrients needed to keep you full until lunch, including complete protein from eggs, healthy fat from avocado, and a little carbohydrate from the flatbread. Topped with fresh herbs and tomatoes, they make a delicious breakfast that won’t weigh you down.” Want a different combination of ingredients? These alternate breakfast tacos from Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, a dietitian in New York City, are flavoured with chili powder, cumin, salsa, and cilantro.
Protein-Rich Cherry French Toast
Who says French toast has to be decadent? My protein-rich French toast uses heated frozen cherries and runny egg as toppers in lieu of butter. The French toast batter is sweetened naturally with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract and contains no added sugar. You get plenty of protein from the eggs, fibre from the whole-grain bread, and healthy fats from the pecans for a filling meal that’ll keep you going until lunchtime. Want a different combo of ingredients? Whip up a batch of pomegranate pecan French toast. Want a savoury version? Try herbed French toast with mushrooms.
Blueberry Overnight Oats
“I make these overnight oats just about every morning,” says Jessica Ivey, RDN, a nutritionist in Birmingham, Alabama. “I love that I can make several servings on Sunday afternoon, and they are ready to go on busy weekday mornings. The oats provide filling fibre to help keep you satisfied until lunchtime, the yogurt and milk provide bone-building calcium, and the blueberries add more fibre and anthocyanins that promote blood vessel health.”
How about a colourful salad for lunch? This apple avocado salad is a favourite of Jessica Monroe, PhD, RD, a nutritionist in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She says the olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing is so easy to make ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for a few days. “The salad has healthy fats from the avocado and almonds, is high in fibre, and includes lean proteins to keep me full through the afternoon,” she says. “I love the mix of textures and touch of sweetness from the apple and dried cranberries.” You can also try an avocado salad with beets, such as this dish from Ben Maring, MD, an internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California.
Why not make a big batch of soup every week? (Here are some of our favourite soup recipes.) “Salads tend to require daily prep and fresh produce, but having soup on hand is a filling way to slow down the pace of a meal and get your greens as part of the main meal,” says Therese Bonanni, RDN, a nutritionist at Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, New Jersey. “My broccoli bisque requires minimal prep and can easily use up a bag of frozen broccoli as an alternative to fresh. Broccoli is also a dairy-free calcium source that’s loaded with vitamin C, helpful for when you’re coming down with a cold!” Serve up a cup of soup alongside a sandwich.
Mexican Spaghetti Squash Bowl
“Every weekend, I cook a spaghetti squash and lightly season the strands,” says Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, a nutritionist in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “Reheated spaghetti squash strands are the perfect base for a quick lunch bowl during the week.” The spaghetti squash offers filling fibre, and the taco-flavoured lean ground beef or turkey adds fueling protein. You can also try this healthy pasta recipe featuring kale and butternut squash.
Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
Quinoa, providing protein to help keep you fuller for longer, is a fantastic salad ingredient. “There are endless variations of this salad that you can make,” says Linda Shiue, MD, an internal medicine physician and director of culinary medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. “You can use whatever greens you have, such as baby spinach or arugula. This recipe uses squash, but in the summer, I might use tomatoes or strawberries. This recipe is healthy because quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids our bodies need.” (Here are some more healthy quinoa recipes.)
Sweet Potato Toast with Avocado and Eggs
This toast is on the daily menu for Amy von Sydow Green, MD, RD, a clinical dietitian at Penn Metabolic Medicine in Philadelphia. “It’s such a flavourful and satisfying breakfast or lunch and is made with whole and simple ingredients. The sweet potato provides complex carbohydrates, which result in long-lasting energy, and the eggs add high-quality protein, which helps me feel full for several hours. The avocado is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.” To make it yourself, slice a sweet potato into half-inch slices, lengthwise. Spray the slices with olive oil, sprinkle them with black pepper and salt, and roast in the oven at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until browned. Top toast with one to two fried eggs and half an avocado, sliced. Sprinkle with chili flakes, and serve with bell pepper slices. (Also, check out our roundup of easy and healthy sweet potato recipes.)
This shrimp dish from Luiza Petre, MD, a cardiologist in New York City, is ready in minutes. The shrimp provides the health-helping omega-3s EPA and DHA, in addition to filling protein. “The dish includes lots of spices with health benefits such as ginger, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and paprika, which is rich in antioxidants,” she says. Serve the shrimp with a side of fibre-filled veggies, such as roasted lemon pepper asparagus, to help keep you fuller for longer.
Vegetable “Fried” Rice with Almond-Teriyaki Sauce
This protein-rich fried rice dish is one of my staple quick healthy meals for busy weeknights. It combines ingredients I always keep on hand, including fibre-offering frozen green beans, almonds, almond butter, and brown rice—as well as protein-rich eggs. The dish takes just minutes to make.
Sheet Pan Salmon with Sweet Chili Sauce
Sheet-pan recipes are so easy because everything gets cooked on one pan in the oven. “I love this salmon recipe because it’s nutritious and fast,” says Sonali Ruder, DO, an emergency room physician in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of Natural Pregnancy Cookbook. “Salmon is a nutritious lean protein and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. The red bell peppers and asparagus add fibre and micronutrients like vitamin C and folate.” You can make endless variations of this dish, varying the protein and vegetables depending on what your family likes. If you prefer tilapia, try this pesto tilapia sheet pan dinner from Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, MS, RD, a nutritionist in Boulder, Colorado.
Next, check out the recipes with 5 ingredients or less that nutritionists love.