French Bread Pizza: Slice a loaf of French bread in half lengthwise and scoop out the doughy center. Cut each half into 6 or 8 slices and place them on a baking sheet. Fill each cavity with a spoonful of jarred pasta sauce. Add your favorite toppings such as caramelized onions and goat cheese. Bake at 400°F until cheese is melted and “pizza” is heated through.
— Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND
Ingredient Improv: For a fresh alternative, use tomato slices in place of jarred pasta sauce. Add whatever vegetables you have on hand such as baby spinach, arugula, sliced mushrooms or diced bell peppers. Want protein? Toss on a few pieces of precooked chicken or shrimp. Top with reduced-fat mozzarella or a sprinkle of feta cheese.
Protein-Packed Guacamole: Do more with less in this protein-packed “guacamole.” Into a food processor, add 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 1 handful (or more) fresh spinach, 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice from 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic, ½ avocado and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until desired consistency is reached.
— Cecilia Tran, MS, RDN
Ingredient Improv: Add diced tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, jalapeños, zucchini or cucumbers after pureeing to add extra texture and veggies. For more flavor, sprinkle in different seasonings such as cumin. Don’t have an avocado? Skip it for a bright green bean dip!
Perfect Pesto Pasta: Microwave a bag of steamable broccoli florets and a bag of microwaveable pasta per package directions. In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons pesto sauce with the cooked noodles and broccoli. Stir in 2 cups shredded precooked rotisserie chicken and garnish with Parmesan cheese.
— Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RDN
Ingredient Improv: Instead of broccoli, swap in any other vegetable such as carrots, peas or cauliflower. Chop up cooked sausage links or tempeh for a different protein. Give it a kick with hot sauce or red pepper flakes.
Tofu Stir-fry: In a pan, cover sliced mushrooms with low-sodium vegetable broth and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Slice a block of drained and pressed firm tofu. Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray, place tofu slices in the pan and cover with a mixture of low-sodium soy sauce and minced garlic. Cook until browned on both sides. Serve tofu and mushrooms over your favorite whole grain.
— Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Ingredient Improv: Save time by using tofu in vacuum-sealed packaging (it doesn’t require pressing). Try serving over a bed of greens with fresh chopped herbs as garnish.
Black Bean Quesadilla: Combine ½ cup rinsed and drained canned black beans with cheese and a sprinkle of chili powder. Place the mixture on a whole-wheat tortilla, fold it in half and place on an indoor grill or panini press. Grill until warm. Open the tortilla and add spinach, a drizzle of Sriracha sauce and a spoonful of sour cream.
— Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
Ingredient Improv: After grilling, add more fresh chopped vegetables such as cabbage, mushrooms or bell peppers, and use plain low-fat yogurt in place of sour cream. Give the quesadilla extra flavor with a squeeze of lime or splash of salsa.
10-Minute Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes: In a medium bowl, mix together ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 single-serve container Greek yogurt, ½ ripe banana (mashed), 1 egg and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Coat a nonstick pan with oil and place over medium heat. Pour ¼ cup batter into the pan, add blueberries and flip when bubbles appear. Makes 4 pancakes!
— Danielle Stadelman, RDN
Ingredient Improv: Use a fruit-flavored yogurt or try a variety of mixed berries. When preparing the batter, sprinkle in a hint of cinnamon. No fresh fruit in the fridge? Thaw frozen berries to use instead.