Veggie Pasta Stir-fry: Sauté onion, garlic, mushrooms, black and green olives, bell and banana peppers, spinach and Italian seasoning or basil pesto — or both. Sauté chopped chicken with Italian seasoning and add to vegetables. Serve with spaghetti and freshly grated Parmesan.
— Lindsay Gabbard, RD, LD
Ingredient Improv: Make a meat-free version with tofu or tempeh in place of chicken. Try different flavor combinations, such as soy sauce and rice vinegar, and serve with a side of cooked brown rice, farro or even spaghetti squash.
Quick Chicken Soup: For a quick chicken soup, bring about 4 cups bone broth to a boil, then add a few chopped carrots and about 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken. Let simmer about 5 to 10 minutes. Add leftover or precooked pasta and some chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
— Jenny Harris, MS, RDN, CD
Ingredient Improv: Save time by using low-sodium boxed or canned broth and pre-roasted chicken. Amp up the nutrition with additional vegetables: broccoli, celery, onion and spinach. Swap parsley for other fresh or dried herbs, such as thyme or basil.
Easy Lentil Bolognese: Sauté 1 chopped onion in olive oil, then add pre-cooked lentils. Add your favorite jar of marinara sauce, plus some garlic powder, dried basil and oregano. Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash or my personal favorite — zoodles!
— Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, CDN
Ingredient Improv: Use unsalted canned lentils to save time. Or, substitute canned chickpeas or black-eyed peas in place of lentils. Spice it up by adding cayenne pepper and add cheese-like flavor with nutritional yeast.
Gourmet Avocado Toast: Sounds fancy, but it’s super simple. In a bowl, mash together ½ medium avocado and 1 cup rinsed and drained garbanzo beans. Sprinkle in ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper and a dash of kosher salt. Toast a slice of thick whole-grain, seeded bread. Slather that beauty with the mashed bean spread and top with a squeeze of lemon juice.
—Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT
Ingredient Improv: Make a spicier version by adding chili powder and topping with fresh chopped cilantro and a splash of hot sauce. Hosting a party? Serve the spread on toasted baguette slices or minitoast for an impressive appetizer.
Posh Beans: Drain and rinse 1 can cannellini beans and cook in a pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 clove minced garlic and a sprinkle of dried parsley, paprika and red chili flakes (optional) until heated through. Serve hot on toast, with pasta or in a salad.
— Abigail Gooding, RD
Ingredient Improv: Use any type of beans you have on hand. Substitute onion, shallot or other aromatics in place of garlic. Customize the flavor by choosing different herbs and spices.
“Seems Fancy” Steak Wraps: Thinly slice grilled flank steak (can be hot or cold). In a small bowl, mix some mayo with prepared horseradish (to desired spiciness) and spread on a burritosized tortilla. Cover with a layer of arugula or baby spinach, sprinkle on some chopped jarred roasted red peppers, add the steak and roll it up.
— Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN
Ingredient Improv: Use plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise. Not a fan of horseradish? Add hot sauce for spice or garlic powder for extra flavor. Add diced cucumber and red onion for crunch.