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Avoid Gaining Weight This Spring with These 10 Easy Tips

Avoid Gaining Weight This Spring with These 10 Easy Tips

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Spring is in the air and it’s time to get off the couch and clean out the pantry. Now that spring is here, we’re able to get back outside and restock the kitchen with our favorite fruits and vegetables.

Avoid Gaining Weight This Spring with These 10 Easy Tips

You can take some simple, easy steps to avoid gaining weight this spring, such as getting active outside and cleaning out the remnants of your pantry. If you’re looking to try something new and exciting, sign up for a local 5K or join a group exercise class like Zumba or kickboxing. If starting slow appeals to you, try removing one unhealthy item from your current diet — soda or white bread, for example. Small, effective steps will prevent weight gain and help you work towards a beach-ready body by summer.

In addition to taking the stairs and revamping your pantry, exchange restaurant outings for home-cooked meals. By choosing to cook your own food, you’ll lower your salt consumption (bloating — eek!) and maximize your ability to integrate fresh ingredients into your diet. While you’re prepping your meal, be aware of snacking. Most of us nibble on ingredients while cooking, oblivious of the extra calories we’re consuming.

Finally, be aware of what you’re drinking. Whether it’s with soda, juice, or alcohol, many of us are guilty of drinking our calories throughout the day. Trade your afternoon soda for a bottle of water or a cup of tea. While you’re at it, consider skipping the second cocktail at happy hour or trading in your usual calorie-packed margarita for an antioxidant-rich glass of red wine.

This spring, avoid weight gain with simple, easy changes and fitness-related goals. Delve into something new and get involved, whether it’s bicycling or a group class. Remain conscious of the calories you’re eating (and drinking!) and trade processed, sodium-packed ingredients for fresh produce, grains, and protein. You’ll be beach-body ready in no time.

Clean Out the Pantry
Many of us are guilty of stocking our pantry with comfort foods and calorie-rich snacks. Instead, choose low-sodium soups, canned beans, and 100 percent whole grains and nuts, like almonds. “I recommend a healthy granola bar that is low in sugar and high in fiber, such as KIND Nuts & Spices,” says Keri Gans, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet.

Ease Up On the Cocktails

Be aware of those post-work cocktails. Many of them are packed with calories and sugar. That 8-ounce Long Island iced tea you’re drinking contains up to 780 calories. Yikes! Instead, opt for red wine or vodka and club soda. You’ll instantly lower your calorie content and up your antioxidant intake.

12 Ways To Naturally Gain Weight At Home

According to the World Health Organization, 462 million adults worldwide are underweight (1). This is a cause for concern as it can affect your health and lead to complications in the long run.

We have all read and heard about the risks of being overweight or obese. But did you know that being underweight is also not good for you?

If you are underweight and want to increase your weight at home, there is only one way to do it – the healthy way!

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Christopher Testani

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Plan Healthy Eats

Rather than focus on the specific holiday meals that are sure to have a high calorie toll, think about your overall eating patterns during the season. How you eat every day sets the trend for your weight and health, so make healthy choices when and where you have more control, like at home and at work.

Eat Breakfast

While it might be tempting to skip breakfast during the holiday season (it saves calories, right?) or to go in the other direction and dine on leftover pie, do yourself a favor and start the day off right. A good breakfast will get in some important nutrients, get your metabolism going and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Soup Up Your Meal Plan

You can count on soup to fill you up with low-calorie, nutrient-dense vegetables. Make a big pot on the weekend and you'll have it on hand for lunch or dinner throughout the week.

Resist Workplace Temptations

Reward Yourself

Bring a Veggie Dish

"Be the change you want to see in the world" doesn't just apply to how you treat others. It also applies to the food you want to eat. Make sure there's something healthy at a holiday party by offering to bring a vegetable-centric dish.

Hyper-personalize your approach.


There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for losing weight.

"Each person's particular preferences, dislikes, and manner of eating food are formed from the days they began eating solid foods. We cannot undo these habits overnight," says Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN, and personal trainer.

There are so many factors at play—medical history, genetics, age, lifestyle, and more.

"Food is tied so tightly to our psyche, culture, and socialization, it takes a personalized approach to establish effective and lasting habits," says Nina Dahan, MS, RD.

Some people do well with a so-called "cheat day," while others go off the rails if they stray from cleaner eating. Likewise, the keto diet could be a game-changer for your neighbor but set you up for failure if it means you have to miss pizza and wine night, or if you don't have the energy to work out when you eat so few carbs. Experiment with tweaking things to find an effective formula for you.

Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Few ingredients fuse nutrition, ease, and taste quite like the lentil, and combine that with salmon, and you have a truly satisfying meal that isn't hard to make. While the salmon roasts in the oven, the lentils are simmered. Together, both aspects of this dish merge into something truly special.

Get our recipe for Roast Salmon With Lentils.

How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain – His & Hers Guide

Hi friends! How’s your week going?! Pretty good here. Some weeks I feel buried and overwhelmed, but this week has started off on a super productive foot and I’m feeling ambitious about getting lots of stuff done! Even some of those pesky things that have been on the to-do list forever! Which ties in perfectly for today because we’re talking taking care of your body during the holidays.

You’re in for a treat because my handsome hubby is back sharing his secret for how he recently lost weight and then I’ll share my tips for keeping those extra pounds off at the end of the year! No one likes to start the new year with an additional 10 pounds to lose, we want to start off feeling fresh and invigorated!

In my last post, many of you remarked that it looks like I have lost weight. Since then, several other people have said, “you look different,” which I will assume means “looks like you’ve lost weight” instead of you look like Swamp Thing or Shrek. Well, you would be right, I have lost weight about 15 pounds since middle of July.

A few years ago, I did a challenge for the gym we belong to and I lost almost 25 pounds in 40 days. I can tell you it was not a healthy weight loss and within about 6 months I had put all the weight back on. So, what’s different now: diet. I decided to try making the majority of my diet more vegan and vegetarian. Now before you say, “oh dear God, not another one of these whack job stories,” I will tell you that I was a huge skeptic, mostly because I have always viewed most vegans as people who were doing it for purely political purposes, realizing of course there are those who do it for religious and other reasons.

At various points in my life I have been a workout fiend (twice a day), and at other times not so much (couldn’t find the gym with a search warrant, a guide team, and a GPS device). During the times that I was working out one thing remained consistent: a heavy protein diet consisting mostly of meat, meat, more meat and protein shakes. When I was a teenager in high school this was not a problem as my metabolism burned faster than a comet across the night’s sky. As I got older though, this diet was clearly not working but I was in complete denial about it. Mostly because I love steak and chicken and sausage and BBQ and the all you can eat Brazilian joints.

However, after finally reaching the point where I just knew something had to change I decided to give the whole vegan/vegetarianism thing a try. I decided to go cold turkey and jump right into vegan. Megan thought I was crazy, hell I thought I was crazy too. I honestly did not believe I was going to make it 48 hours before going around the corner to Whataburger and ordering a double meat with cheese all the way with fries and a chocolate shake. To my surprise though, it was actually very easy. For 4 straight weeks, I ate vegan. Not only no meat, but no dairy, and no other animal products like eggs. It was crazy town around here!

The big thing I did not do was promote this on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, I wasn’t in this for a cause and I didn’t see any need to promote it. I just wanted to see if this would make me feel better. I also did not tell people that I went out to lunches with that I was doing this. I stayed silent. Funny thing, no one said a thing to me. If I ordered a salad at lunch, or some other dish with vegan compliant ingredients nobody said, “what’s wrong with you!” I didn’t get anyone judging me or telling me that it wouldn’t last, or asking, “Are you some kind of communist?” In some ways, it was an interesting social experiment. People who have known me for years and know my carnivore consuming ways didn’t even pick up on it. But, by doing it this way, there wasn’t any pressure. If I couldn’t keep it up or I could quit, no big deal.

What I found after those 4 weeks was crazy. I had dropped about 8 pounds with limited working out and felt 1000% better. The biggest challenge was ahead though: our trip to New Orleans. Megan asked me, “what are you going to do?” I’m going to eat like I am in New Orleans, that’s what I’m going to do. It was one weekend and like I said I wasn’t in this for some political purpose I was doing it to see if I would feel better. I went to New Orleans and I ate meat and all sorts of other decadent foods, and it was delicious! When we got back to Houston, I went back to the new diet I had begun but decided I didn’t need to be militant about it. I could still have meat and dairy if I wanted, just not every day and for every meal. I have adopted that philosophy since we returned and have managed to lose another 7 pounds or so.

The term, “moderation,” really does apply to me and eating large quantities of meat at this point in my life. I am by no means advocating this and saying you need to do it. What I’m saying is find what works for you, just as I hope I have found something that might work for me. Everyone is different and what works for some of us ain’t gonna work for others. I have not forsaken meat or ice cream or anything like that, I just don’t eat them every day 3 to 4 times a day.

The holidays are of course the worst time of the year to try and control your diet and not eat and drink to excess. Between the holiday gatherings with family and the holiday parties with your co-workers and friends your liver and other vital organs curse your very name. It’s also probably not the best time to try some new crazy diet. Once the dust has settled though everyone, men and women, will make their New Year’s Resolutions and along with diet going to the gym is always in the Top 5 priorities.

So, for all the guys out there who you know will make their post-holiday return to the gym, I have spent hours (well, not really hours) scouring the Nordstrom website and found 8 workout items that you can pick up for him to help in his fitness efforts. They do actually have a pretty great selection of workout clothes there and online shopping is so much easier than venturing to the store! You read about my recent experience, right?!

1. Cut Back on These Foods

Pictured Recipe: Pineapple Nice Cream


Booze takes a toll on your liver, the main organ that "detoxes" your system. It also acts as a diuretic, so it&aposs harder to stay hydrated. Stick to the recommended limits of one drink a day for women, two for men. Try club soda with a splash of juice for a refreshing mocktail.

Added sugars

Sodas and packaged foods are often loaded with hidden added sugars, upping your risk for obesity and heart problems. The American Heart Association recommends keeping added sugars under 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. One 12-ounce regular soda has about 8 teaspoons of sugar, so it&aposs easy to overdo things fast. When you want a sweet treat, reach for fruit instead.


Americans eat an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. Cut 1,000 mg out every day and you could lower your risk of heart disease by up to 9 percent, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Refined grains

White flour, white rice and the like are stripped of healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. Check food labels carefully and look for foods that list whole grains as the first or second ingredient.

Processed foods

Prepared foods with long lists of ingredients load you up with sugars, salts and unhealthy trans fat. Pass them up and make room for more healthy, whole foods instead.

Vary Your Workouts and Try New Activities

It’s easy to get into an exercise rut, and even easier to fall out of the habit of exercising at all. But at this stage of your life, not getting your move on is not an option. “Ideally, to keep your weight in check, you’ll be working out three or four times a week — with the injection of some HIIT — and it only needs to take 15 to 20 minutes,” says Peeke. “It’s extremely effective at keeping excess levels of body fat down. And make sure to get in some weight training, even if it’s just using your own body weight.”

So, take a Zumba class. See what all your buddies are talking about and join them one weekend at a CrossFit center. Give PiYo a go. (Never heard of it? It’s a cross between Pilates and yoga.) There are so many different exercises to try, you’ll be able to find ones you like and stick with them.

Or maybe you’ll find that novelty works for you. According to a classic study published in the Journal of Sport Behavior, adding variation to your exercise routine may be the most successful way to make you stick with it. Any kind of physical activity is better than none at all, but if your body gets too accustomed to a routine, it won’t burn belly fat (or any fat) as efficiently as when you first started working out.

1. French Toast

French Toast is a toothsome and delectable dish that can be eaten for breakfast daily.

  • 6 slices of brown bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 spoon of grounded cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt for taste
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  1. Beat the eggs, milk, salt, spices, and vanilla in a bowl.
  2. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and allow it to soak both the sides.
  3. Pour some oil in a pan and heat it on low flame.
  4. Cook both sides of the bread until they turn golden.
  5. Serve hot with a dollop of butter.

2. Apple Pancakes

Love eating apples but tired of making salads? Try apple pancakes. These thin slices are full of flavor and taste. Prepare them easily at home by following the instructions.

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grounded cinnamon
  • 1 egg whisked
  • 1/3 cup full of milk
  • 2 grated red apples
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 kiwifruit peeled
  • A handful of blueberries
  • ½ cup low-fat frozen yogurt
  1. Take a bowl and combine the flour with cinnamon. Now add some milk and egg. Keep whisking until you see it become smooth.
  2. Take a frying pan and add some oil to it. Keep the heat low.
  3. Add the apple mixture to the pan.
  4. Spread them out and let it cook for two minutes.
  5. Make separate batches out of them.
  6. Serve with yogurt, blueberries and kiwi.

3. Avocado Breakfast Salad

This amazing Mexican salad is a favorite among most Latin and American people. It has different textures and flavors and can help you lose weight.

  • 2 tortillas
  • 1/2 pack of firm tofu
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • A handful of almonds
  • 4 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 teaspoon of chili sauce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ lemon
  1. Heat the tortillas in an oven.
  2. Once they are heated, bake them for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Chop up some tofu, onions, and tomatoes on one side. Mix with chili sauce.
  4. Refrigerate it for a while.
  5. Chop the almonds, grapefruit, and avocado.
  6. Mix all of them together and place neatly over the bowl.
  7. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top!

4. Mix Sprout Salad

This mixed sprout salad promises both health and taste. Sprouts are digestible and contain proteins, vitamins, and minerals in abundance.

  • ½ cup of fenugreek sprouts
  • ½ cup of radicchio or red cabbage
  • 1 small radish, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of arugula or baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of Italian herb mix
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of ground black pepper
  1. Toss all the veggies and sprouts in a large bowl.
  2. Mix olive oil, Italian herb mix, lime juice, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Pour the salad dressing and toss the veggies together.

5. Kale Chickpea Mash

Kale and chickpea mash is healthy and provides you with a range of health benefits.

  • 3 tablespoons of garlic
  • 1 shallot or small white onion
  • A bunch of kale
  • ½ cup boiled chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Celtic sea salt to taste
  1. Chop up the shallot and fry it. Add some minced garlic in olive oil.
  2. Wait until it turns golden brown and then add some kale, onion, and garlic.
  3. Cook for 6 minutes after adding chickpeas.
  4. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Your dish is now ready.

6. Quinoa And Apple Breakfast

The combination of quinoa and apple can be a great combination for a healthy breakfast.

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the steps given at the back of the packet.
  2. Add some water. Boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Grate the apple, add it to the quinoa, and cook for another 30 seconds.
  4. Serve in a bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. You can also add raisins if you want.

7. Yummy Cold Oats

Cold oats are great for early morning breakfasts. Make some at home to get a good headstart to the day.

  • ½ cup of oats
  • ½ cup of skimmed milk
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana sliced
  • ½ tablespoon of peanut butter
  • ½ cup berries
  1. Mix the oats, yogurt, milk, and salt. Pour the mixture in a glass jar.
  2. Seal the jar and let refrigerate it overnight.
  3. Add banana slices and berries with cinnamon in the morning.

8. Scrambled Tofu

Tofu scramble is vegan, delicious, healthy, and the right breakfast after your morning workout. Here’s a 5-minute scrambled tofu recipe.

  • 100 g of tofu
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ cup of yeast
  • ½ cup of baby spinach
  • Salt to taste
  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  2. Add some onions in a pan and heat for 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for a minute.
  4. Add some tofu and tomatoes. Keep cooking for 10 minutes.
  5. Add cumin, paprika, and some water. Stir well and cook.
  6. Add spinach in the end.

9. Theplas

Thepla is a common dish eaten in Gujarat, India, and is full of fiber. It is an alternative to regular oats.

  • ½ cup of fenugreek leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • ½ cup of spinach
  • 1 ½ cups of wheat flour or oats flour
  • ½ cup of chickpea flour
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Water to knead the dough
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the dough
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil for cooking.
  1. Mix the flours with fenugreek leaves, salt, turmeric, and water.
  2. Add some oil in a pan and heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Put the onions in and stir until you see it turn golden.
  4. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the flame and let it cool.
  5. Add the cooked spinach to the dough and knead it well.
  6. Divide the dough into small balls. Use a rolling pin to make small circles of the dough.
  7. Heat a skillet and cook the thepla for 2 minutes on each side.
  8. Add a teaspoon of oil and cook for 10 seconds on each side.
  9. Serve hot!

10. Maple Millet Porridge

Millets are full of protein and contain amino acids in abundance. You should definitely consider having them for breakfast.

  • 1 cup of millets
  • 4 cups of water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Maple syrup, according to taste
  1. Boil water in a large pot.
  2. Add some salt and the millets to the pot.
  3. Cover and lower the flame. Cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Add cinnamon and almond water.
  5. Continue to cook the millets for 20 minutes.
  6. Add some maple syrup and stir. Try to adjust the thickness.
  7. Your dish is ready!

11. Chickpea Frittata

Chickpea frittata is an amazing vegan substitute for egg frittata. This dish is delicious and nutritious.

  • 1 cup of chickpea flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of zucchini slices
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • ½ cup of chopped spring onions
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C.
  2. Grease a baking pan or tray.
  3. In a large bowl, add all ingredients except for the oil and spring onions.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the large bowl of batter.
  5. Add it to the greased pan or tray.
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
  7. Take it out and slice into pieces.
  8. Garnish with spring onions and serve.

There you have it – 11 amazing and delicious alkaline breakfast recipes. Which one of these recipes is your favorite? Do you know any other alkaline recipes for breakfast? Tell us in the comments box below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, tomatoes are alkaline.

3 sources

  • Health Effects of Alkaline Diet and Water, Reduction of Digestive-tract Bacterial Load, and Earthing, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Acid Balance, Dietary Acid Load, and Bone Effects—A Controversial Subject, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  • Reducing the Dietary Acid Load: How a More Alkaline Diet Benefits Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease, Journal of Renal Nutrition.

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8 Metabolism-Boosting Meals

Some foods-such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains&mdashtake more work to eat so you burn more calories during digestion. Adding garlic, spices, peppers, and vinegar will keep your fat-burning furnace running after you're done eating. Try these 8 calorie-burning recipes to blast off belly fat, curb your appetite, and drop weight fast.

Southwestern Breakfast Burrito (pictured above)
PREP TIME: 5 minutes / TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes / SERVINGS: 4 (one 10" tortilla with 1¼ cups filling per serving)

4 high-fiber whole grain sandwich wraps (10" diameter)
4 egg whites
2 eggs
1 c no-salt-added canned black beans, rinsed and drained
½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ sm red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp pickled jalapeño chile pepper rings, chopped
1 c shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp jarred spicy salsa

1. WRAP the sandwich wraps in aluminum foil and cook for 5 to 7 minutes in a toaster oven on medium or in an oven preheated to 350ºF.
2. PLACE the egg whites, eggs, and beans in a medium bowl and whisk until just combined.
3. HEAT a larger skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds. Coat with cooking spray. Add the egg mixture. Cook for 1 minute, or until the edges are no longer translucent, then stir with a spatula.
4. SPRINKLE the top of the eggs with the green and red bell peppers, onion, chile pepper rings, and cheese. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 1 minute longer, or until the eggs are cooked through and the cheese is melted.
5. SET out the sandwich wraps. Place a quarter of the mixture on each wrap, and divide the salsa among the wraps evenly. Fold in the 2 sides of each wrap to close. Wrap in aluminum foil or serve immediately.

NUTRITION (per serving) 383 calories, 23 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 13 g fat (3 g saturated), 717 mg sodium

Stuffed Blueberry French Toast
10 minutes / TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes / SERVINGS: 4 (2 slices bread with ½ cup filling per serving)

2 c blueberries
1 c fat-free milk
½ c 1% cottage cheese
⅓ c sugar
2 lg egg whites
1 lg egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 slices firm country-style whole wheat bread
1 Tbsp canola oil

1. PLACE the blueberries, ½ cup of the milk, the cottage cheese, and sugar in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
2. PLACE the egg whites, egg, vanilla extract, and remaining ½ cup milk in a shallow bowl and whisk until smooth.
3. DIVIDE the blueberry mixture among 4 of the slices of bread and top with the remaining 4 bread slices.
4. HEAT a large skillet over medium heat. Add ½ tablespoon of the oil and place the stuffed bread into the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bread starts to brown.
5. DRIZZLE the remaining oil over the top of the bread and turn. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until browned and cooked through. Serve immediately or cool on a wire rack.

NUTRITION (per serving) 389 calories, 17 g protein, 64 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 7 g fat (0 g saturated), 456 mg sodium

Ham and Cheese Bake

½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
4 eggs
4 egg whites
3 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp dried oregano
4 oz whole wheat bread, cubed
2 c broccoli florets, chopped
2 scallions or 1 shallot, chopped
2 slices Canadian bacon or ham, chopped (about 1½ ounces)
2 tomatoes, sliced
½ cup (about 4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
8 oz orange or grapefruit juice

1. PREHEAT the oven to 350ºF. Place the milk, yogurt, eggs, egg whites, flaxseed, and oregano in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined.
2. ADD the bread, broccoli, scallions or shallot, and bacon or ham and stir until the mixture is well coated. Transfer to an 8"x 8" baking dish.
3. TOP with the tomatoes and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned and the top of the casserole puffs. Cut into 4 equal portions and serve immediately with 1 glass of orange or grapefruit juice.

NUTRITION (per serving) 373 calories, 23 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 652 mg sodium

Barbecue Chicken Salad

1 c French or green lentils, rinsed
2½ c water
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
¼ c walnuts, toasted and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch asparagus (about 1½ pounds), cut into 1" pieces
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
½ c jarred barbecue sauce

1. PLACE the lentils, water, chipotle chile, and adobo sauce in a rice cooker and set to cook. Or, if you don't have a rice cooker, place the lentils, water, chipotle chile, and adobo sauce in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cover. Reduce to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until most of the water is gone and the lentils are almost cooked through.
2. ADD the asparagus as soon as the cooker shuts off if you're using the rice cooker, and steam for 5 minutes. If using the saucepan, add the asparagus once most of the water is gone and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until the asparagus is tender. Remove the lentil mixture from the rice cooker or saucepan and place in a bowl, uncovered.
3. PLACE the chicken in a medium bowl and add the walnuts, celery, and barbecue sauce. Stir to coat. Transfer the lentil mixture to a platter and top with the chicken.

NUTRITION (per serving) 401 calories, 34 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 9 g fat (0 g saturated), 528 mg sodium

Cuban Sandwich

1 large Portobello mushroom, stem removed
½ tsp olive oil
1 sm red onion, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 piece (6") whole wheat baguette, cut in half (about 2 oz)
2 oz lean pork loin, sliced
1 slice low-sodium baked ham

1. SCRAPE the underside of the mushroom to remove the black gills with a teaspoon. Discard the gills.
2. HEAT a griddle or large skillet over high heat. Add the oil, mushroom, and onion. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring and turning occasionally, or until the onion begins to brown and the mushroom is cooked through. Add 1 tablespoon water if the onion begins to stick.
3. SPREAD the yogurt, mayo, and relish on 1 side of the baguette and top with the pork and ham. Spoon the onion on top. Cut the mushroom in half and layer it on top of the onion.
4. TOP with the remaining piece of baguette and return the sandwich to the griddle or skillet.
5. PLACE a sandwich press or another heavy pot on top to compress the sandwich. Remove the sandwich press or heavy pot and cook over low heat for 1 minute total, turning the sandwich once, or until it browns lightly. Serve immediately or wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to serve.

NUTRITION (per serving) 394 calories, 24 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 9 g fat (1g saturated), 749 mg sodium

Miso Beef and Noodles

½ lb flank steak, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp mellow white miso paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ c cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 scallions, chopped
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (discard stems)
2 c low-sodium beef broth
2 c water
6 oz Asian noodles, such as udon or ramen, cooked according to package directions
2 c packed baby spinach leaves

1. PLACE the flank steak on a plate. Rub the miso, garlic, and cilantro over the meat and set aside.
2. HEAT a large stockpot over high heat. Add the oil. Add the steak and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the meat begins to brown on the outside but is still pink. Transfer to a plate.
3. ADD the carrots, scallions, and mushrooms and continue to cook over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, or until the mushrooms start to soften. Add the broth and water.
4. REDUCE the heat to low, add the noodles, and cover. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, or until the noodles are cooked through.
5. ADD the spinach leaves, which will wilt immediately. Return the meat to the pot and serve immediately.

NUTRITION (per serving) 398 calories, 25 g protein, 56 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 659 mg sodium

Twice-Cooked Potato Skins
15 minutes / TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes / SERVINGS: 4 (4 potato skins with filling, along with 2 cups romaine lettuce per serving)

4 lg baking potatoes (about 2 lb)
2 c baby spinach, thinly sliced
½ c fat-free Greek yogurt
⅓ cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz turkey bacon, chopped
¼ lb 7% lean ground turkey
½ tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried onion
½ c crumbled feta cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
8 c shredded romaine lettuce

1. FILL a large stockpot with 3" water. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until fork-tender.
2. REMOVE the potatoes and transfer to a cutting board. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the centers, and place the filling into a large bowl.
3. ADD the spinach, yogurt, sour cream, and hot sauce. Mash with a fork to break up the potatoes until fairly smooth and set aside.
4. PREHEAT the oven to 400ºF. Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the skins and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until brown. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
5. ADD the bacon, turkey, garlic powder, and dried onion to the same skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often until it's no longer pink.
6. SPOON the turkey mixture over the hollow side of the skins. Top with the mashed-potato mixture and scatter with the cheese and scallions. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the topping is hot. Serve immediately over the lettuce.

NUTRITION (per serving) 398 calories, 32 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 11 g fat (4 g saturated), 539 mg sodium

Cookie Crunch Smoothie
5 minutes / TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes / SERVINGS: 1 (2 cups per serving)

¾ c fat-free milk
1 banana
4 ice cubes
3 chocolate cookie wafers
2½ Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

PLACE the milk, banana, ice cubes, chocolate wafers, flaxseed, sugar, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.

NUTRITION (per serving) 398 calories, 12 g protein, 64 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 11 g fat (1 g saturated), 222 mg sodium