Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: A Certified Nutritionist's Favorite Tips

Quick healthy meal ideas straight from Gina Paulhus' ..."ehem"...kitchen

trainer preparing quick healthy meal ideasFinding quick healthy meal ideas that you like are the key to unlocking your weight loss.

Need some quick healthy meal ideas? You're not alone. One of the hardest parts about eating healthy is figuring out what to make for dinner...again.

I had a few clients request what they can do to jazz up their high protein, lower carb diets. They feel bored with the same old chicken and turkey. I don't know how helpful this will be, as I am a very simple "cook," but what I am used to is creating varied high protein meals that are interesting to me time after time. I also need things that are simple and quick to prepare, and things prepared in a single serving rather than family style. 

Ok, so the truth is I am really a very boring cook, but I do make a bunch of quick things for myself. I don't tend to do much in the way of seasonings so I really can't help you there. This website has simple recipes that don't use many ingredients for some ideas. 

Simply Recipes A resource for lots of tasty quick healthy meal ideas.

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Dairy

  • Cottage cheese (1%) mixed with fruit like strawberries or blueberries mixed with Fiber One cereal or other high fiber cereal, mixed w/ sweetener if desired
  • Cottage cheese mixed with canned pineapple (lower sugar than pre-mixed cottage cheese and pineapple. some people prefer the no-salt added cottage cheese when mixing with fruit, or for those following lower salt diets)
  • Cottage cheese mixed with canned pumpkin and a little sweetener and cinnamon 
  • Slice of whole grain bread or high fiber english muffin or low carb pita/tortilla, with scoop of cottage cheese and piece of low fat cheese, in microwave for 30 sec. or toaster oven 
  • Slice of whole grain bread or high fiber english muffin or low carb pita/tortilla, topped w/ marinara sauce and piece of low fat cheese, in microwave for 30 sec. or toaster oven 
  • Yogurt mixed with fruit and/or high fiber cereal 
  • String cheese (part skim) and fruit 

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Whole Grains

  • High fiber bread or english muffin toasted with peanut butter.
  • Pita or tortilla toasted with hummus.
  • Oatmeal mixed with peanut butter, or oatmeal mixed with cinnamon and raisins (2 Tbsp is a good amt. of raisins). You can also add a scoop of protein powder to oatmeal along with some blueberries or low sugar craisins.
  • 94% fat free microwave popcorn is 200 calories for the entire bag. Not a bad deal if you want to nosh!
  • Microwave a sweet potato for 8-10 minutes (pierce with a fork) and eat as is. If you have more time, coat a pan with olive oil and bake "sweet potato fries." Leave the skin on and dip in ketchup. 
  • Toast up some high fiber english muffins. They have 5 g protein and 100 calories each.
  • Quinoa is a higher protein grain that makes a great side dish. It can be prepared like rice or in a crock pot, and seasoned however you would rice. 

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Eggs

  • Hard boiled eggs, 1-2 whole and 4 whites, made with avocado mayo and chopped cucumber as egg salad; can put on high fiber whole grain bread or in pita or a kale wrap 

  • Omelet with peppers, onions, low fat cheese, and strip or two of bacon crumbled; 1-2 whole eggs and 4 whites 
  • Egg beaters or egg whites; start cooking and add some slices of roast beef, turkey or ham, and cook it up together 
  • Veggies microwaved from frozen, any type with chopped egg mixed in and topped w/ olive oil and sea salt and pepper

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Turkey

  • I take 99% or 93% lean ground turkey, take 4 sheets of aluminum foil and put one pattie (20 oz. package of turkey) onto each sheet. Top w/ any veggie you like, add any spices you want, close up the foil like it's a baked potato, and cook in oven 40 min. at 350 degrees. Turkey will stay moist. Add olive oil after if desired before eating. 
  • High fiber wrap with turkey slices and veggies, either cooked or salad type, and low fat cheese if desired
  • Take prebagged lettuce/salad mixes, and slices of turkey, and wrap the turkey around some of the veggies and eat
  • I love to add crumbled lean turkey patties to minestrone or veggie soup

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Beef

  • You can get precooked beef strips; I like the Tyson ones best. Make veggie mix from frozen by heating in microwave and then add the beef strips. Can add to salads too
  • Roast beef veggie wraps - cook veggies from frozen in microwave, then take a slice of roast beef and put veggies on it, wrap it and eat
  • I make ground beef patties on my George Foreman grill, then break one up and add it to microwaved or roasted vegetables topped with marinara sauce
  • Bison and venison are much leaner than steak and can be cooked like steak 
  • I love to add crumbled lean beef patties to minestrone or veggie soup

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Chicken

  • Bake or boil chicken tenderloins, then smother w/ frank's red hot sauce. 
  • I like to take mustard (honey is my favorite) or A1 sauce and dip plain chicken tenderloins into it. 
  • Check out chicken marinades which are near the salad dressings, and make the foil packets I described for the turkey but with chicken and veggies instead. 
  • Get a roasted chicken and remove the skin and use the meat on salads.
  • Greek salad with chicken can be a lean option as long as you go easy on the dressing and the cheese.

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Fish

  • Pan sear scollops with olive oil/chicken broth just for 2 min. or so, serve over veggies, squeeze lemon juice on top. 
  • Pan sear fresh tuna, serve with soy and ginger sauce and steamed veggies or sauteed spinach and garlic. You can use chicken broth or olive oil to saute, and add onions if desired.
  • If you like imitation seafood it's good on salads and you can mix w/ low fat mayo. Or top microwaved veggies with imitation seafood or salad chunks. 
  • Shrimp cocktail is a quick "meal" anytime. If you eat a ton of cocktail sauce it can add up, but a few Tbsps. is fine. 
  • Foil paks as described w/ the turkey, with salmon, or a whitefish. Top with fresh or frozen veggies. Lemon, vinegar and dill are good on fish. 
  • Sashimi at a sushi place is great - it's all protein and healthy fat. If you get sushi which has the rice, just eat part of the rice. Avoid rolls with added sauces, but rolls with just fish, veggies, and avocado are ok, but have less protein than the straight up fish which is the sashimi. Miso soup is fine to have with your meal, as is edamame (soybeans).

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas: Legumes

  • I absolutely love black bean, edamame or chick pea pastas. I typically add some olive or coconut oil and sea salt/pepper. You can also add marinara sauce which counts as a veggie.
  • I also like to make a faux mac and cheese - black bean, edamame or chick pea pasta with pureed butternut squash as well as bragg's nutritional yeast plus salt and pepper as the "sauce." You can also make the same thing with spaghetti squash. Pureed cashews can also help make the sauce "cheesier" instead of the nutritional yeast.

General Tips

  • Add things like capers, olives, lemongrass, chestnuts, water chestnuts found in the asian section or pickles or jarred veggies like roasted peppers (find ones without added fat by reading nutrition label) or sundried tomatoes to veggies and salads to jazz them up. 
  • Low or no calorie shiritaki "noodles" which you can find in the refrigerator section of most health food stores and some grocery stores, are great to add to eggs, veggies, or any dish you would normally use pasta. 
  • Most asian based seasonings like soy sauce are practically calorie-free - just be conscious of the sodium. 
  • Use taco seasoning packets to mix w/ meats or into veggies. Or use asian seasoning packets like sweet/sour chicken or whatever you like 
  • Protein shakes and bars are always a good fallback, particularly if you have an on-the-go lifestyle. Go here for our best protein shake and bar recommendations. 
  • Top microwaved veggies (frozen or steam in bag ones) with marinara sauce or other low fat sauce you would normally put on pasta. You can also sprinke 1-2 Tbsp. parmesean cheese on veggies. 
  • Nuts make a good snack, but a serving is 1/4 cup nuts (shelled). Pistachios are the highest in protein. 
  • Get precut fruit salad or presliced watermelon. 
  • Although its common to start a meal with salad, I feel more satisfied starting a meal with protein, and it digests better.
  • Grapefruit (red or white) w/ sweetener on it is good to have and good for the metabolism. I usually cut it w/ the peel still on and eat like an orange. 
  • Grapes are a good snack. 
  • Apple slices and celery are better with peanut butter, and carrot and pepper slices are better with hummus. Just watch portion sizes. 
  • Check out veggie type burgers or soy type burgers in the freezer section. Find ones w/ higher protein. 
  • Drink green tea. 
  • Squeeze half a lemon into water or seltzer water and add a little sweetener if you want. 


  • If you consume the occasional protein shake and have fruit regularly, you will be surprised that you will crave sweets less. However, if you do, try vitatops, which can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. They are muffin tops, brownies, and other cake-type items that have fiber and protein and 100 calories each. 
  • Protein shakes are better with milk and ice in the blender. Some add yogurt or fruit as well. Go here for the best-tasting protein powder I recommend.
  • The lower calorie frozen deserts like ice cream sandwiches and larger size fudge bars or weight watchers deserts tend to be more satisfying, for the same calories, than a measly 1/2 cup of low fat ice cream or frozen yogurt. Sugar free popsicles and fudgeicles are low in calories for a sweet treat, as are sugar free puddings. Sugar free jello can be jazzed up with some cool whip or whipped cream. 


  • Light beer, wine, or simple mix drinks like diet tonic water/club soda/diet soda with hard liquor are better, versus cocktails and frozen drinks.
  • Drinking makes your body store fat while you drink, so try not to both drink and eat bad at the same time. If you are having pizza, don't drink at the same time and vice versa.

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