’Tis the season for stuffing our faces. Whether it’s with a few extra slices of pie here or several celebratory glasses of wine there, we all know the feeling. And while there shouldn’t be any guilt for enjoying it all, there’s no denying that those little indulgences can add up to a sluggish start to the new year.
But instead of taking extreme measures that are destined to fall flat, like boycotting carbs or counting every last calorie (there’s a reason 80 percent of health and fitness-related New Year’s resolutions don’t last beyond the first month!), here are 29 more realistic — and more fun — ways to get back on track: I’m talking about simple, sensible meals that require just five main ingredients (or less), making it even easier to stick to your healthy-eating plan come January.
Cook once, eat all week — aren’t those the best kinds of recipes? Packed with spinach, cheese, and sourdough, these muffin versions of scrambled eggs and toast save you from dirtying dishes every morning and provide a complete, balanced breakfast that’s portable too.
If you’re going to use only five ingredients to make a meal, making sure cheese, sausage, and pasta are three of them is a good start. In the absence of tomato sauce, kale lends the dish its veggie component, while lots of garlic is really all you need for extra flavor.
When peanut butter is involved, you don’t really need much else, which is why it takes only three other ingredients to make a fantastically flavorful sauce for beef strips. Unlike other super-sweet peanut sauces, this one calls for just a tablespoon of brown sugar, while Sriracha gives it a spicy kick.
Even with the addition of tortillas (or lettuce wraps, or your other taco vehicle of choice), this recipe clocks in at just five main ingredients. Plus, the slow-cooker method means that you don’t have to be around to babysit the beef as it simmers down to shreddable tenderness.
Tenderloin might be one of the leanest cuts of pork, but when it’s slathered in a homemade honey-mustard sauce and roasted, getting crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, it tastes totally decadent. Oh, and it needs only five minutes of prep before the oven does the actual cooking.
Healthy conveniences such as canned pumpkin and ready-made salsa make up most of the ingredients in this shredded beef recipe, making prep time a cinch. Throw everything in the Crock-Pot to make the cooking process just as easy.
This recipe takes a fruity but buttery pork chop dinner from stove to table in just 15 minutes. No-sugar-added applesauce and caramelized onions give the meat just enough sweetness, and whole-grain mustard adds just enough zing. See? Making a healthy meal is possible even when you’re short on time!
Light strands of spaghetti squash balance out the richness of chorizo, while soaking in the flavors from the tomato and basil sauce. It may be lower in carbs, but the dish still makes you feel like you’re digging into a hearty pile of pasta.
From the fettuccini to the herby tomato sauce, all the ingredients in this light but filling dish cook in a single pan (yay for easy cleanup)! Plus, each serving provides an impressive 19 grams of protein and six grams of fiber; how’s that for a well-balanced dish?
Who says only salads can get the caprese treatment? The tomato, basil, and mozzarella combo tastes just as good on top of chicken — don’t forget the balsamic drizzle!
Little chunks of mango are like sweet surprises between the savory bites of chicken in these adorable mini patties. Pile them on a bed of greens for a light meal that comes together in just 20 minutes.
Many chilis require a ton of ingredients (not to mention a lot of time chopping all those veggies). This one strips the comfort food recipe down to its bare essentials — but packed with sweet potatoes, black beans, and ground turkey, it’s as hearty as ever.
Using almond flour instead of bread crumbs for binding, these turkey meatballs aren’t just lean and protein packed, they’re also gluten-free. Chopped peppers thrown into the mix give them a burst of color along with added vitamins. Eat them any way you like your meatballs.
Most marinades require hours of soaking time, but this one has so many tangy, spicy flavors from the Greek yogurt and lemon juice that the chicken needs to sit in it for as little as 20 minutes. Quick and easy, it goes perfectly with pretty much any side dish, from rice to salad.
When you’re working with a literal handful of ingredients, you’ve got to make them count. Ginger, garlic, honey, and soy sauce are all definitely bold enough flavors — use them as a sauce for shrimp, and you won’t need anything else.
Crusted fish of any kind sounds complicated, but this recipe, which calls for just five ingredients and fewer than 20 minutes, is anything but. Super healthy and super elegant, this one’s a keeper for both busy weeknights and weekend entertaining.
This salad may look like it’s got a long ingredient list, but trust us — there are just five main components, and the rest are spices you’re likely to have lying around already. Even better is the fact that there’s literally no cooking involved. Just toss everything in a bowl, mix thoroughly, and call it lunch or dinner.
Garlic and sage together make a pretty dynamic duo. Put them on thick pieces of cod and let the oven work its magic. Just 20 minutes later, you’ll be digging into a perfectly flaky and herby fish dinner.
If end-of-year indulgences leave you feeling kind of blah, pick yourself back up with a meal full of protein and fresh produce, like this one. Spiralized zucchini, shrimp, and low-fat feta are topped with a no-cook sauce of olive oil and lemon for a dish that’s a refreshing antidote to all the heavy holiday fare.
If you’ve never tried pairing fish with fruity flavors, start easy with this recipe. Just a tablespoon of fresh orange juice goes a long way toward giving the salmon a sweet, citrusy tang without being overpowering.
Who wouldn’t give a recipe with a title like this a shot? It’s not all talk either — pan-cooked and topped with a sauce made from chili paste, soy sauce, and honey, this salmon is fast, simple, and sumptuous indeed.
Here’s a recipe that proves it doesn’t take much to make healthy eating easy. Toss in some cranberries, roasted veggies, and some crumbled cheese, and even people who scoff at salads will want in on it.
Stir-fries are fast and easy by definition, but many involve chopping lots of veggies and complicated sauces. This one is on a whole other level of simple, using just Swiss chard and garlic and calling for a mere five minutes of cooking time. Speediest stir-fry ever.
When pasta isn’t doused in creamy sauce, it can most definitely help you get your healthy eating on. Take this spaghetti recipe — tossed with lots of fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, and basil in a light olive oil base, it’s highly unlikely to send you into a food coma.
Potato salad isn’t just for picnics! Here’s a healthy version, best served warm. The spuds are baked instead of boiled, while the dressing swaps out the mayo for olive oil, and the addition of chopped red peppers give the dish a welcome pop of color.
Fair game for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, frittatas are the ultimate convenience meal. This one goes classic with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and peppers, but really, go with the veggies you have on hand. After all, the beauty of a frittata is its versatility.
Canned beans and corn plus a jar of salsa (check out our favorite all-natural brands!) help dress up this quinoa dish in just 15 minutes. Stir it all on the stovetop, and it’s ready for serving. Putting a hot meal on the table doesn’t get much easier than that.
Even counting the cooking time for the quinoa, this recipe comes together in fewer than 30 minutes. Plus, there are really only three main components here, leaving you room to toss in slivered nuts or cheese and still come in under the five-ingredient mark.
Craving Thai curry but not in the mood to shop for (or cook with) all the ingredients it requires? Don’t deprive yourself; just make this. Red curry paste is the main flavoring agent here, and just two tablespoons can make cauliflower and tofu taste like a dish straight from the streets of Bangkok.
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Originally published at greatist.com on December 7, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com