Sure, most of us could eat celery sticks and lean fish protein and consider ourselves healthy, but what kind of existence would that be? Sometimes you need a little indulgence to keep you going. These 20 recipes represent a nice balance between tasty-enough-to-keep-your-interest and just-healthy-enough-to-keep-you-from-crashing.
1. Guacamole Turkey Burgers
Dark-meat turkey lends juiciness and flavor, and keeps these tasty burgers lower in fat than even regular lean-beef burgers. The guacamole keeps things extra-luxurious. Get our Guacamole Turkey Burgers recipe.
2. Vegetarian Black Bean Burritos
A cheesy chorizo breakfast burrito can drop enough calories on you to put you in the red. This one, with beans and roasted poblanos, is rich and satisfying and won’t blow your diet. Get our Vegetarian Black Bean Burritos recipe.
3. Quinoa Breakfast Porridge with Figs
Lighter than oatmeal, quinoa cooks with dried figs, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg to yield a breakfast you can feel good about. Milk and a sprinkling of chopped, toasted pecans and halved figs complete this nourishing breakfast. Get our Quinoa Breakfast Porridge with Figs recipe.
4. Mustard Greens Caesar
Everybody loves Caesar salad, especially when it’s coated in rich, yolky dressing enriched with a ton of Parm. Thos one, with mustard greens instead of romaine, keeps overindulgence in check. Get our Mustard Greens Caesar recipe.
5. Baked Chicken Fingers
Baked instead of fried and coated in whole-wheat cracker crumbs, these tender chicken strips are a much healthier alternative to fast food or frozen chicken nuggets. Serve them hot out of the oven. Get our Baked Chicken Fingers recipe.
6. Spicy Turkey Chili
Lower in fat than beef chili, more satisfying than veggie chili, this recipe calling for ground turkey is spiked with hili powder, cayenne, cumin, and little bit of cinnamon. Get our Spicy Turkey Chili recipe.
7. Blackberry Frozen Yogurt
Thick Greek yogurt provides tangy goodness and a soft-serve texture without excessive butterfat. A swirl of blackberries adds plenty of sweetness, no extra-calorie toppings necessary. Get our Blackberry Frozen Yogurt recipe.
8. Carrot Chips
A minimum of olive oil and some carrot shavings are essentially all you need to make beautiful, crisp, and satisfying munchies that won’t leave you kicking yourself for over-indulging. Get our Carrot Chips recipe.
9. Quinoa Chowder with Spinach and Feta
Healthy quinoa, vegetables, and feta cheese stand in for the cream and seafood in this vegetarian soup that’s perfect for lunch or a light dinner. Get our Quinoa Chowder with Spinach and Feta recipe.
10. Grilled Fish Tacos
Fish tacos can be filled with either fried fish (not healthy!) or grilled fish (healthy!). Here’s the healthy version, with a citrus marinade and tangy cabbage slaw. Get our Grilled Fish Tacos recipe.
11. White Bean and Edamame Hummus
Regular hummus isn’t a diet breaker, but the amount of oil-rich tahini it contains can keep you from pigging out. This healthier version with cannellini beans and frozen edamame relies on a mere ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil for richness. Get our White Bean and Edamame Hummus recipe.
12. Turkey Chipotle Meatloaf
Ground dark-meat turkey is a juicy stand-in for beef (or veal, or pork) in this American classic with a spicy, smoky kick. Get our Turkey Chipotle Meatloaf recipe.
13. Red Lentil Pâté
Okay, so nobody would consider vegetarian pâté a close second to traditional meat charcuterie, but this version—made from dried red lentils, cremini mushrooms, and white wine, flavored with smoked paprika—is a genuinely luxurious spread for crackers or veggie chips. Get our Red Lentil Pâté recipe.
14. Roasted Shrimp with Romesco Sauce
Shrimp cocktails with Louie dressing are delicious but, from a diet perspective, deadly. This romesco sauce alternative provides all the luxurious texture and depth of flavor with much less fat. Get our Roasted Shrimp with Romesco Sauce recipe.
15. Mango-Raspberry Vegan Shake
Coats your upper lip and gives you a brain freeze just like a full-fat shake, but with none of the butterfat heaviness. Mango sorbet, fresh raspberries, soy milk, and toasted coconut are al you need. Get Mango-Raspberry Vegan Shake recipe.
16. Whole Wheat Margherita Pizza
The simple margherita (tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil) is already an exercise in restraint. Giving it a whole-wheat crust inches up its nutritional rating. Get our Whole Wheat Margarita Pizza recipe.
17. Grilled Tofu Torta
The Mexican torta is a thing of heft and diverse textures. Here, marinated and grilled tofu (first marinated in hot sauce) is a healthy stand-in for meat. Get our Grilled Tofu Torta recipe.
18. Easy Chicken Meatloaf
Ground chicken makes meatloaf lighter and more delicate than the one Mom used t make. A bit of shredded aged Gouda cheese gives it just enough complex flavor. Get our Easy Chicken Meatloaf recipe.
19. Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff
Ah, the beef stroganoffs of childhood: rich, beefy, creamy, and caloric. This vegetarian version swaps out cremini mushrooms and kale for the meat, and it’s enriched with just enough sour cream to keep it close to the original. Get our Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff recipe.
20. Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
An indulgent-textured sauce of walnuts blended with coconut milk gives this comfort dish plenty of, well, comfort, while the addition of roasted cauliflower and broccoli florets give it a ton of nutrients and fiber. Get our Vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe.