No matter if you’re short on time, budget, cooking skills, or all three, you can still put together satisfying, heart-healthy meals that are perfect for kids, company, or dining on your own.
One of the keys to heart-healthy eating is planning. If you always wait until mealtime to think about what you want or have to eat, you run the risk of “grabbing anything” because you’re hungry or too tired to put much effort into meal preparation. Instead, take some time each weekend to give thought to the upcoming week’s meals, then shop, plan, and cook accordingly.
To get the ball rolling, check out these tasty recipes that are easy on your wallet and schedule, as well as healthy for your heart. Happy noshing!
Raspberry Basil Iced Tea
In warm weather or cold, this not-your-ordinary beverage packs a sweet little punch but almost no calories.
- Eight cups unsweetened decaffeinated iced tea
- Two cups raspberries, washed; Eight fresh basil leaves, washed
- Four tablespoons of no-calorie sweetener (granulated, 6 packets)
To prepare: In a two-quart pitcher, combine tea, raspberries, basil and no-calorie sweetener. Gently stir and refrigerate overnight. Add ice to individual glass and pour iced tea in each through a strainer to remove bits of herbs and fruit. Stir and enjoy.
Avocado and Tuna Salad
Perfect for a light meal, heavy snack, or side item, this delicious salad has only 130 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving, and yields enough to serve the whole table or provide leftovers throughout the week.
- One medium avocado, cut in half
- One-half cup pico de gallo
- Two tuna flavor seal pouches (6.4 oz.), packed in water
To prepare: Remove the pit from the avocado. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides of the avocado and place it in a medium bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher. Add the pico de gallo and mix well, then add the tuna to the bowl and mix again. Serve with your choice of whole-wheat crackers, whole-wheat pitas or lettuce wraps.
Black Bean Soup
This savory recipe is low on calories and fat but high on taste. You can pair it with a salad for a complete meal or serve as a side dish or a starter, or use it as a yummy and nutritious taco filler.
- Non-stick cooking spray
- One medium onion (diced); one jalapeño (chopped)
- One tablespoon of garlic (jarred/minced); two teaspoons of ground cumin;
- Two 16- ounce cans of low-sodium black beans (un-drained)
- One 15- ounce can of low-sodium tomatoes (diced)
- One cup of low-sodium chicken broth
- Chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)
To prepare: Spray a large pot with cooking spray, over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent (about five minutes). Add garlic, cumin and jalapeno and cook one minute more. Add beans and lightly mash with a potato masher or fork. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. If you like, serve topped with chopped fresh cilantro.
Meatloaf with Black-Eyed Peas
Even picky eaters are likely to enjoy this hearty dish, which weighs in at 322 calories and less than 4 grams of fat per serving. Bright idea: Bake in muffin tins instead of a pan. Kids will love it, and meatloaf muffins make an easy-to-freeze healthy snack you can heat and serve later. (Note that the bake time for muffins should be cut in half).
- Non-stick cooking spray
- One small onion (finely chopped); one medium bell pepper (any color, finely chopped)
- One teaspoon extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil; two teaspoons fresh garlic (minced)
- Two tablespoons fat-free, skim milk
- Two eggs (beaten)
- One-third cup quick-cooking oats
- One-and-a-half-pound extra-lean, fat-free ground turkey (or substitute extra lean ground beef or pork)
- One tablespoon Dijon mustard; one quarter teaspoon black pepper; one teaspoon dried parsley; one teaspoon cider vinegar
- 8-ounce canned, low sodium tomato sauce, divided use
- 31 ounce canned, low-sodium black-eyed peas
Meatloaf: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place onions and bell pepper in a glass 9x5 loaf pan, drizzle with oil, and toss to coat. Cover loaf pan with a plate and microwave on high for three minutes (NOTE: If you are using a metal loaf pan do NOT put it in the microwave!).
Allow vegetables to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine vegetables, minced garlic, milk, oats, turkey meat, eggs, mustard, two tablespoons of tomato sauce, pepper and parsley. Mix well with hands.
Spray loaf pan with cooking spray. Shape meat mixture into loaf and place in loaf pan. In the medium bowl, mix remainder of tomato sauce and cider vinegar and then pour over the loaf. Bake for 50-60 minutes until internal thermometer reads 165 degrees (for poultry) or 160 degrees for beef or pork. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and slice.
Black-Eyed Peas: Heat (but don’t drain) black-eyed peas in a microwave-safe covered dish on high for five minutes, or until warm. Serve nestled to your meatloaf and enjoy.
Apple Bread Pudding
This scrumptious treat boasts less than two grams of fat and 131 calories per serving, and is the perfect end to any meal, especially when served warm and paired with a glass of skim or low-fat milk.
- Cooking spray
- One whole egg; one egg white
- One cup skim milk
- Two tablespoons brown sugar blend
- One teaspoon of vanilla extract; one teaspoon cinnamon; a half teaspoon of cloves or allspice
- Six slices light, whole-grain or multigrain bread (cubed)
- Three medium apples, cored and cut into half-inch cubes
- Optional: One cup of any one of the following: Raisins, dried cranberries, fresh or dried blueberries, chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
To prepare: Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, milk, sugar blend, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves. Add bread and apple cubes. Add fruit or nuts if desired. Mix well. Pour mixture in to prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
Sources: American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association
Note that calorie and fat gram references are approximate and do not include optional ingredients.