Mushroom and Swiss Chard Quesadillas1 of 6
Photo and recipe by @fromtheathleteskitchen.
These quesadillas are perfect – not overly cheesy, pick-upable (thanks to cooking the filling separately, to avoid a floppy, soppy mess), veggie packed and topped with lean protein via Greek yogurt. The play of textures between the crunchy, baked tortillas and the soft but substantive mushrooms and chard makes them super satisfying. With the chard and the mushrooms in the filling, you're covered on a whole host of antioxidants, key vitamins and minerals and even selenium, which helps prevent inflammation.
Baked Coconut Shrimp2 of 6
Photo and recipe by @thefoodiephysician.
Deprivation of favorite foods is a slippery slope - as anyone who's tried knows, resistance can lead to overindulgence down the road. This recipe makeover is ideal - sweet and savory flavors remain, while nutritionally speaking the focus shifts from strict portion control to outright benefits.
Long shunned as a fatty and therefore 'bad' food, the fat in coconut meat is a medium chain triglyceride, which is transformed into fuel versus being stored in the body. Coconut also helps decrease LDL cholesterol, the type that contributes to cardiovascular disease. And underneath that delicious layer of coconut, the shrimp provides an excellent source of low calorie, lean protein, plus is high in Vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium.
Baked Buffalo and BBQ Cauliflower Bites3 of 6
Photo and recipe by @thewholetara.
When you're in the mood for wings, too many is just enough and before long you've eaten a day's worth of calories and more saturated fat than the body is designed to handle in one sitting. Mostly though, it's the tasty sauce plus hearty bite that's craveable, and while subbing out cauliflower may at first sound unorthodox, it's actually an excellent solution.
Cauliflower absorbs flavors exceptionally well, and is ?dense and crunchy, key for heartiness. Plus, as you nosh to your heart's content on these bites, you're also getting key vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and key minerals.
Maple Sea Salt Popcorn4 of 6
Photo and recipe by Marisa Westbrook/Uproot Kitchen
Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Yes, this munchable-by-the-bowlful snack is certifiably good for you, delivering not only the as-expected fiber than a whole grain would, but antioxidants as well. Unfortunately, at times the toppings for popcorn tip the scale too far in the other direction and the kernels are nothing more than a vehicle for benefit-negating sugar, fat and otherwise unhealthy calories.
Not so here. A little maple syrup and flaky sea salt in this version create a light combination of salty & sweet. Try this popcorn instead of cookies for an afternoon or after dinner snack to satisfy your craving for something satisfying and fun, and reap nutritional benefits to boot.
Greek Lamb Meatballs5 of 6
Photo and recipe by @thedefineddish
Meatballs are a great weeknight food and seem to provide instant mid-week cheer. These come together easily, and the Mediterranean twist on traditional ingredients provides a fresh change from hamburger-based versions that can come to feel routine. Plus, thanks to the lamb, this dish provides a day's full dose of B vitamins, which are key for metabolism. Serve them on toothpicks with a dollop of greek yogurt for the perfect holiday bite.