Cook a veggie burger per package instructions and prepare 1 cup pasta of your choice (elbow, bowtie, cavatappi and fusilli are good options). Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and set aside ¼ cup for use. Cut up the veggie burger and combine with pasta and chickpeas, topping with pesto.
– Sean Pavlick
Ingredient Improv: Instead of a veggie burger, use 2 ounces of your choice of cooked meat such as chicken breast, ground turkey or ground beef. Protein-rich pastas made of lentil or beans work well, too. Don’t like pesto? Substitute marinara, chipotle mayo or any other sauce.
Freeze two sliced bananas. Thaw frozen bananas with 1 cup frozen mixed berries for 7 to 10 minutes. Then, blend the frozen fruit for 2 minutes until it has a smooth and creamy consistency. Add 2 tablespoons peanut butter for protein.
– Hannah Larson
Ingredient Improv: Instead of peanut butter, use peanut butter powder or protein powder — consider using chocolate or vanilla flavored varieties. Top the “ice cream” with a tablespoon of chia seeds for more dietary fiber and protein. Crushed walnuts or almonds add a little crunch.
Brown and cook a package of ground turkey in a large pan. Add 1 can each drained and rinsed black beans and corn, and 1 to 2 cups of your favorite salsa. Stir and heat until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Spoon ½ cup of mixture into a whole-wheat or corn tortilla, top with cheddar cheese and repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.
– Rachel Mariano, MS, RDN, LDN
Ingredient Improv: For a little heat and extra spice, add diced jalapeños, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder or taco seasoning. Bump up the nutrient density by adding more vegetables, such as bell pepper or sautéed spinach.
Kid-friendly Pizza: Lightly top a whole-wheat tortilla with your preferred pizza sauce and cheese, plus any leftover diced vegetables, such as carrots or peppers. Cook in a toaster oven at 350°F for 1 to 5 minutes or on a lined sheet pan in the oven at 350°F for 1 to 5 minutes or until evenly browned.
– Sarah Gallagher, MS, RDN, LDN
Ingredient Improv: While mozzarella is typically used on pizza, other cheeses such as cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, provolone or feta work well, too. Use leftover spaghetti sauce in place of pizza sauce and add spices such as oregano, fresh basil or cracked pepper.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese: Follow the directions on a box of mac and cheese with these modifications: Along with the boxed pasta, add ½ cup of regular, chickpea or whole-wheat pasta to the boiling water. When adding the powdered cheese packet, also stir in 1 cup canned pumpkin.
– Serena Ball, MS, RDN
Ingredient Improv: For a touch of warm spice, add a dash of ground cinnamon or a sprinkle of pumpkin spice seasoning. To make it a one-pot meal, add shredded cooked chicken or another lean protein, plus vegetables such as steamed green peas or broccoli.