Let’s start off by being perfectly clear: we would never suggest anyone give up pizza or a juicy burger and fries. It’s fun (and important) to treat yourself once in a while, but we all know it’s also important to maintain a healthy diet. According to the CDC, eating right can help you live longer, stay stronger, and feel better. Unfortunately, so-called “healthy” food tends to get a bad rap, but we maintain that cooking food that’s good for you can also be delicious, easy, and fun! So, here are just a few of our favorite dishes for a little inspiration.
Salmon contains a ton of Omega 3s, which are famous for reducing the risk of stroke, improving your mental health, and filling you up with clean-burning energy. Many people are intimidated to cook fish, but we can’t stress how easy it is. For example, this Honey Garlic Salmon recipe from Café Delights can be made in one pan—which makes for easy cleanup, too! You start by making a glaze out of butter, honey, soy sauce, and lemon. Then you pan fry the salmon, drizzling your glaze over the top along the way. We suggest serving the fish with brown rice and asparagus to really bring home those healthful flavors.
Chicken is an extremely lean protein that’s rich in B Vitamins, which have a huge impact on your energy levels and brain function. And thanks to this great recipe from Brit and Co, you can whip up a Blackened Chicken Salad that makes eating healthy an absolute pleasure. Start by seasoning a raw chicken breast with paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, and chili powder. Then blacken the chicken in a cast iron skillet, and serve over a bed of romaine. Be sure to load up the salad with plenty of avocado, cucumber, red onion, and cilantro—or whatever fresh herbs and veggies strike your fancy. This substantial salad is filling and nutritious and has the most wonderful, slightly spicy flavor profile.
You definitely want to limit the amount of processed red meat in your diet. But a lean cut of steak—like a filet—is rich in iron, which helps carry oxygen to your muscles. It’s also packed with selenium, which protects against cell damage. So, grab a nice cut of grass-fed beef from your favorite butcher and rub it down with salt and pepper. Heat up your cast-iron skillet and start the cooking process by briefly searing the steak on your stove top. This helps create a nice crust and locks in the flavor. Then transfer the entire skillet into a preheated oven to finish the job. This recipe from Kitchen Swagger has all the detailed instructions, but if you’ve ever wondered how the steakhouses do it, this method is their secret.
Shrimp is considered high in cholesterol, so as with any food, you’ll want to eat it in moderation. But shrimp also has a ton of health benefits. It’s low in calories and carbs. It’s high in Omega 3’s, similar to salmon. And it’s high in iodine, which is huge for your brain and thyroid. For this recipe from A Couple Cooks, start by tailing and baking your shrimp. Then layer over a bowl of rice along with some black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, and roasted red pepper. Finally, drizzle a little bit of homemade chipotle ranch dressing and cilantro over the top, and you’ve got yourself a simple Shrimp Burrito Bowl to rival anything you could get at a restaurant.
Are you familiar with jackfruit? This is a great option if you’re vegetarian, but also a tasty change of pace if you’re not. Jackfruit is packed with calcium and antioxidants and, according to WebMD, contains all the vitamins and minerals that help prevent heart disease and cancer. Start by pan frying the jackfruit with garlic and onions in a light olive oil. About halfway through the cooking process, season the jackfruit with lime juice, agave, broth, and spices. Then toast your favorite corn tortillas and make yourself a few jackfruit tacos, topping them with red onion, avocado, and cilantro. You can find the detailed recipe at It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, and we can assure you: once you go “jack” you’ll never go back!
When you think about eating healthy, dessert probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that fruits like peaches are packed with a ton of nutrition and enough natural sugar to satisfy any sweet tooth. Peaches are also a great source of Vitamin C, which fortifies your immune system. They can even lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. This dessert, courtesy of master chef Bobby Flay from The Food Network, is easily adapted to use a grill pan on your stove in place of an outdoor grill. Just make sure to preheat your pan for at least 5 minutes to make sure the entire surface is heated evenly (and to help get those perfect grill marks). Then mix a little cinnamon sugar, regular sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl. Brush your glaze over a halved and pitted peach. Finally, slap it on the grill pan until it’s golden brown and just cooked through. It all makes for a treat that’s so good you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
If you see a common theme starting to emerge, you’re absolutely right: you don’t have to sacrifice on taste to eat healthy. So, whether you’re in the mood for steak, shrimp, or something sweet, bookmark a few of these flavor-packed recipes. Because eating healthy is about much more than swimsuit season. It’s about living longer, living better—and quite frankly, it tastes amazing!