Baked crispy chicken: Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange three bowls on the counter: One with whole-wheat flour; one with 2 eggs and a splash of milk whisked together; and one with corn flake cereal smashed into crumbs. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch-wide strips and dunk in the flour, then egg-milk mixture, then cereal. Place coated chicken onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Repeat with remaining chicken and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
– Andrew Doherty, RDN
Ingredient Improv: Instead of chicken, try extra-firm tofu (drained and pressed). Substitute another corn- or wheat-based cereal, or opt for crushed crackers. Add a layer of flavor with your favorite spices.
My favorite go-to lunch for work: Empty a single-serving pouch of albacore white tuna in water into a small bowl and use a fork to break it up. Add ½ teaspoon olive oil, ¼ cup drained and rinsed black beans from a can, 1 tablespoon finely diced red pepper and juice from ½ small lemon. Stir together.
– Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD
Ingredient Improv: A pouch or can of salmon or chicken can be substituted for tuna. For a creamier version, add a scoop of low-fat plain Greek yogurt. For extra crunch and fresh flavor, add diced celery or sliced scallions. Serve with crackers, on whole wheat bread or in endive leaves.
Parmesan Pasta: Cook and drain ½ cup of your favorite pasta such as whole wheat shells or quinoa fusilli. Mist the same pot with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add cooked pasta, 1 teaspoon olive oil and a few shakes of smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add 2 eggs for every serving of pasta and stir with a rubber spatula to scramble the eggs. As the mixture starts to thicken, add 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and stir until eggs are cooked. Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
– Katy Zanville
Ingredient Improv: Give this pasta dish a nutrition boost with vegetables: serve over fresh spinach or stir in pre-cooked roasted veggies. Swap in your choice of cheese and top with slices of avocado for a cool and creamy element.
Lasagna roll-ups: Sauté mushrooms and fresh spinach until wilted, then combine with ricotta cheese. Add a scoop of filling to 1 cooked whole-grain lasagna noodle and roll. Repeat with remaining filling, place rolls in a baking dish and top with your favorite red pasta sauce and fresh mozzarella. Bake at 375°F for about 35 minutes.
– Nikita Grove, RDN, LDN
Ingredient Improv: Make it vegan by substituting pressed and crumbled firm tofu for ricotta and season with salt, garlic powder and nutritional yeast before combining with cooked vegetables. Use vegan “cheese” or omit cheese.
Quick Chili: In a large pot over medium heat, sauté chopped onion in a little oil. Dump in 2 cans of chili beans, 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans and 1 can of diced tomatoes. Add about 1 cup of leftover cooked meat (your choice) and a package of chili seasoning. Stir in water to thin chili to desired consistency. Heat to an internal temperature of 165°F. Serve warm with corn chips and cheese.
– Gretchen Stroberg, RD, LD, CDE
Ingredient Improv: For a vegetarian version, skip the meat and add more beans, such as kidney or navy beans. Amp up flavor and texture with other toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, sliced radishes or a drizzle of hot sauce.