Orzo Stuffed Mushrooms: Clean and trim portobello mushrooms, removing the stems. Place open faced on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. In a bowl, combine cooked orzo, diced black olives, diced cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, fresh chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fill mushroom tops and top with feta cheese. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until tender.
— Sarah Gallagher, MS, RDN, LDN
Ingredient Improv: Use button mushrooms and substitute cooked rice, couscous, quinoa or any other grain for orzo. To make this dish vegan-friendly, top with nutritional yeast instead of feta. Reduce food waste and incorporate leftover stems into a later meal.
Grilled Flatbread Sandwich: Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Place one flatbread in the pan and layer on marinara sauce, pepperoni and shredded mozzarella. Add a second flatbread on top and drizzle it with a light amount of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, if desired. Brown on both sides and cook until the cheese is melted.
— Amanda Kruse, MS, RD, LD, FAND
Ingredient Improv: Add herbs and spices such as basil, rosemary, oregano or garlic powder. Bump up the nutrition with vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, bell pepper or onions. Other combinations could include ham and pineapple; ricotta, mozzarella and Gouda; or sausage, peppers and onions.
Bean Pasta with Veggies: Cook a box of chickpea pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, dice an onion, place in a sauté pan and cover with low-sodium vegetable broth. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced. Once pasta is cooked, strain and rinse. Combine the pasta, onions, your favorite tomato sauce and a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas and enjoy.
— Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Ingredient Improv: Once served, add a dash of black pepper and nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese. Incorporate more vegetables such as canned or frozen peas and sautéed mushrooms or add leftover reheated rotisserie chicken.
One-Ingredient Almond Butter: Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill a greased sheet pan with unsalted almonds and roast for 10 minutes. Let almonds cool, then place in a food processor and process until creamy.
— Stephanie Dorfman, MS, RD
Ingredient Improv: For more flavor, add cinnamon, maple syrup or vanilla extract while processing. If you like crunchy nut butters, process the almonds until they are chopped into small pieces, then set some almond pieces aside and mix them back in once the rest of the almond butter is creamy. Use this “recipe” for any nut or seed.
Light and Creamy Ranch Dressing: In a small bowl, mix 1 cup plain yogurt with ½ teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder, 2 tablespoons each fresh chopped dill, fresh chopped parsley and fresh chopped chives, plus 1½ tablespoons lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Use it to dress salads or as a dip with fresh sliced vegetables and whole-wheat crackers.
— Gillean Barkyoumb, MS, RDN
Ingredient Improv: For extra protein, use plain Greek yogurt and, to thin the consistency, add low-fat milk or water. To create a vegan version, use a plant-based yogurt. Dried spices can be used in place of fresh but use less since dried spices are more potent.