My Favorite Healthy Recipes

I am certainly not a bona fide healthy recipe blogger, but I do happen to have a couple hundred healthy-ish recipes residing on this blog, and because it seems as though every January brings forth the same tidal wave of searches for healthy recipes, I hand-picked my favorite 50 healthy recipes so you can catch them all in one place (below!).

Little Quinoa Patties

Of course, I must give the disclaimer that some of these may not fit everyone’s definition of healthy.

I get that.

But these are, in my mind, lightened up, healthy meals that still pack a delicious punch.

I am a firm believer (and encourager) of making intuitive changes to help a recipe be even healthier or adapt it to your dietary needs.

For instance, if you are eating low-carb, make that skillet chicken taco filling and eat it over quinoa or lettuce, don’t hesitate to go easy on the cheese, swap a healthier oil for butter…you know, things like that.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos

I actually despise the topic of dieting, I really do.

I don’t do well when I omit whole food groups for dieting purposes – as in, I get sad, angry, and I usually fail and end up binge-eating the very thing I was supposed to go 30 days without.

I’m definitely more of a moderation type gal.

However, I certainly can’t get away with eating anything I want whenever I want (I wish!), so I have a few little standby rules that help this old, mom-of-5 body stay on track and continuously try to slim down and tone up.

1) I don’t eat after dinner (we usually finish up eating by 6:45 or 7:00 p.m.).

Sure, there’s the occasional holiday/church/friend party, birthday, or hormonal fluctuation that break this rule quicker than you can say “late night snack,” but in general, I try to live by the mantra that once dinner is finished, so am I.

2) I drink lots of water…and hardly anything else.

I shoot for the standard eight glasses of water a day and am really stoked if I can get 10. I know it sounds terribly boring, but I don’t usually drink anything other than water (besides my beloved kefir smoothies in the morning and my hot chocolate fix).

I’d much rather eat my calories than drink them.

3) I exercise to support my eating habit. My goal is 3-5X a week for 30-45 minutes.

I have more exercise videos than should be legal, and so I rotate through them (including some very, very old school ones I love more than life).

Lately, I’ve been doing weights 3X a week and fitting cardio in the other days (often HIIT or Tabata workouts).

I also love Fitness Blender for free workouts and to stream some of my favorite Beachbody workouts, like P90X3, T25, Insanity Max 30 (not affiliated with any of the above).

Chicken Taco Salad

So yeah, the above tips are obviously not rocket science, but since I get asked about it constantly, those are a few rules the little angel on my shoulder always reminds me of.

Stop eating! Drink more water! Get off your lazy behind and workout!

And now that I’m done talking, I hope you love this roundup of my favorite healthy meals!

20-Minute Asian Noodles

30-Minute Asian Garlic Noodles with Shrimp {or Chicken}

30-Minute Quinoa Enchilada Skillet Meal

30-Minute Quinoa Enchilada Skillet Meal

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps {Quick and Delish}

BBQ Chicken Salad Cilantro Lime Rice Bowl

BBQ Chicken Salad Cilantro Lime Rice Bowls

Black Bean and Butternut Enchilada Skillet

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos

Butternut Squash and Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp and Rice Noodles

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps {20-Minute Meal}

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Pepeprs

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Peppers {With a Slow Cooker Variation}

Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites

Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Quinoa Bites

Pressure Cooker Chicken and Black Bean Chili

Chicken and Black Bean Chili {Pressure Cooker}

Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

Chicken and Mango Basil Stir Fry

Chicken and Mango {Or Pineapple} Basil Stir Fry

Chicken Apple Sausage Couscous

Chicken Apple Sausage Couscous

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Chicken Taco Salad

Chicken Taco Salad {InstantPot, Slow Cooker, or Stovetop}

The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Instant Pot, Stovetop, Slow Cooker}

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa {Grill or InstantPot}

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad

Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad with Homemade Creamy Cashew Dressing

Chopped Taco Salad

Chopped Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing

Chopped Thai Crunch Salad

Chopped Thai Crunch Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Fabulous Orange Chicken

Fire Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Fire-Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Fresh Corn Salsa

Foil Packet Sweet Potato Tacos

Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

Ginger Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry

Greek Pita Salad

Greek Pita Salad

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Yogurt-Hummus Sauce

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Yogurt-Hummus Sauce

Grilled Lemon Chicken Wraps with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Grilled Lemon Chicken Wraps with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Lime Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice

Grilled Lime Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice

Broiled Fish Tacos

Healthy and Delicious Broiled Tilapia Tacos {30-Minute Meal}

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Healthy Chicken Nuggets {Baked}

Little Quinoa Patties

Little Quinoa Patties

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

Mexican Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Mexican Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Mexican Chopped Chicken Salad

Mexican Chopped Salad with Simple Honey Vinaigrette

Creamy Spinach Chicken Soup

No-Cream Creamy Basil Spinach Soup

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Roasted Balsamic Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Satay Chicken Noodle Salad

Shrimp and Mango Lettuce Wraps {20-Minute Meal}

Simple Orange Chicken with Broccoli

Simple Orange Chicken with Broccoli

Skillet Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos

Skillet Cilantro and Lime Fish Tacos

Skillet Honey Garlic Chicken {20-minute meal}

Skillet Honey Garlic Chicken {20-Minute Meal}

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

Stir Fry Basil Chicken

Stir Fry Basil Chicken

Simple Chicken Lo Mein

Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein

Stuffed Zucchini Enchilada Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Enchilada Boats

Thai Chicken Crunch Wraps

Turkey and Brown Rice Taco Burritos

Turkey and Brown Rice Taco Burritos

White Bean and Sausage Ragout

White Bean and Sausage Ragout {with Tomatoes, Kale and Zucchini}

63 Responses to My Favorite Healthy Meals + My Go-To “Dieting” Tips

  1. Kristin says:

    Love your blog, LOVED your realistic tips to being healthy. I’m a healthy weight mom of three – even thinner than my high school and college days – because I’ve established healthy habits but nothing crazy (moderation!), I drink a ton of water, and I work out regularly. People always want to know “the secret” … You nailed it!

  2. Shara says:

    Hi Mel! I tried to send a message through your website, but could never tell if it was sent or not . I saw on your Instagram awhile back that you taught some ladies (prob st RS) how to get dinner on the tables. I’ve been asked to teach a similar sounding class at our stake RS night and I feel a little clueless, ha. They think I’m capable and confident (neither of those terms come to mind, ha). Anyway, I was curious if you would be willing to share your handouts/info/documents with me? You seriously rock at this food/organization/momming thing. I’ve learned a lot from you through this blog of your. Thank you!!

  3. Dr.shahana says:

    Thanks for the tips and advice! inspiration and goals..I really have to try not to eat after dinner.

  4. Allyson says:

    Somehow I missed signing up for the newsletters a long time ago and just did this weekend. However, I am sad I have to miss the recipe referenced above that was sent in this past Friday’s newsletter. Is there any way to access the archives of newsletters? Thank you!

  5. Bethany says:

    I’ve been wanting to tell you that last summer I did the Whole30 and survived because I modified a bunch of recipes from your site! It felt familiar to cook things we eat often from a source I trust. It was incredibly easy to adjust things. Not at all recommending the Whole30, by the way, just saying I loved that I could still cook the meals we love.

  6. Ashley says:

    Hi Mel! Love the blog. I signed up twice for the newsletter–but haven’t see one yet. Could you check for me? I love the blog!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Ashley – I just checked the email database and your email address is in there and it looks like all the emails (newsletters included) have made it to your inbox. They haven’t bounced or been rejected. Do you have a promotions tab? Sometimes they’ll end up in there on gmail. Check there and your junk folder and let me know if you still don’t see them.

  7. Vickie says:

    I just registered for the newsletter, will I be able to get yesterday’s edition?

  8. Jan says:

    I love your white bean tuna for a healthy meal!!!

  9. Melanie says:

    I love how normal you are, Mel. Those quinoa bites caught my eye yesterday, and so I made them. Wow, they were fantastic!! Also, I am loving your newsletter. It is one of the few things in my email I actually read 🙂 Happy New Year!

  10. megan rich says:

    Love these recipes Mel! I just can’t resist commenting that I feel the Thai quinoa salad has to be on this list! Although maybe it is categorized as a side? It is one of my favorite recipes and so filling, with or without added chicken.

    • Mel says:

      Yes, I agree! I love that one. I kind of slid that into a side dish category…but we actually eat it most often as a main dish, so I really should have included it. 🙂

  11. Kim says:

    Can’t wait for the newsletter–I keep checking my email!

  12. Mamalala says:

    I totally agree with your healthy tips.
    My take: I don’t count calories and I splurge now and then, and I see water as key. I would eat my calories any day than drink them. Diet drinks are not allowed nor regular soda. I love this post and counted that I made 11 of these recipes. Love your real food that is real easy to make. Thanks for making me a rock star in the kitchen!

  13. Laura says:

    Thank you for great recipes and sound exercise advice! Maybe it will motivate me. 🙂 Do you have any idea why your blog isn’t showing up in my feedly feed anymore? The last post I saw there was the Best of 2016 one. It could be happening with other blogs — I just noticed with yours because I also get the newsletters (but usually read from feedly). Anyway, I suspect it’s nothing you’ve done but thought I’d ask if you’d heard that from others. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Laura, sorry about the feedly issue. It’s been something I’ve been working on this week to fix, and it should be good to go (there was an issue with my auto-generated feed and the XML file needed to be fixed). If you don’t see it next week, be sure to let me know!

  14. Anna says:

    I agree 100% about dieting. I know what is healthy, and try to eat that way generally, and when I start to feel yucky and flabby I just recommit to eating better. I’m kind of frustrated now, though, because I am pregnant and for the second time I have gone milk intolerant during a pregnancy! (This is my sixth and it also happened with my third, who ended up having a milk allergy.) I’m much better at moderation than total elimination of whole food groups, and wish I didn’t have to do it now! 🙁 But, for these precious babies, we do what we have to do, and it works out. Thank goodness.

  15. Catherine says:

    I’m with you. Moderation in all things and grumpiness when it isn’t there. Some of these are our favorite recipes. So glad for reminders of others I haven’t made in awhile.

  16. You’re site has always been my favorite but this seals the deal! You should add your banana oat snack bars to this. I make them all the time and sometimes sub pumpkin and/or applesauce for the bananas. And always Greek yogurt. So yummy. I like to add chia seeds too. I have four boys and moved to Boise from the Midwest about the same time you did so I totally feel bonded. 😉 Did you see B.B. Is offering a whole year of streaming all their workouts? Pretty awesome. Thank you for all you do. You pretty much rock!!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Natalie – you are sweet!
      I kept this list to main dish only but I agree, those banana oat snack bars are divine! I DID see that about Beachbody…I was pretty stoked.

  17. Deanna says:

    Thanks for these great tips! I too only drink water but definitely still don’t get enough of it. On another note: I signed up for newsletter back in dec to get your yummy cookie recipes and then tried again when I didn’t get them. I have been getting the email updates but never the newsletter. Any suggestions?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Deanna, I just did a quick search of your email in the database and it looks like the last newsletter made it to your inbox (on December 23). Did you see that one? I can resend the other ones from December if you’d like.

      • Deanna says:

        Thanks for checking on my newsletter! It somehow slipped through the cracks but I found it! You are absolutely amazing!

  18. Debbie K says:

    Your blog is one of my favorites! I also don’t eat after dinner. And to make sure I am not tempted to snack on anything afterward, I floss my teeth and brush right after dishes are cleaned up. (I don’t like flossing enough to have to do it twice : ) It might sound silly, but it really helps!

  19. Liz says:

    I’m in the moderation camp, although like Julia Child said “Everything in moderation, even moderation!” I have definitely upped my vegetable intake in recent years and also discovered that I love all kind of beans (Rancho Gordo is my fav source) and thank you Instant Pot for a great way to cook them no fuss! And I pay attention to portion sizes. Also, as you noted, I think about “do I need that much cheese or cream or whatever” in a recipe and maybe back off a bit on some ingredients to lighten up a dish.

    I am not a gym/video/exercise routine fan except for a yoga DVD that stays in my computer. I like that it has some short 10-15 minute routines which work well for me from my home office – one is even called “computer break”. I keep hand weights under my desk and if in an internet meeting and I’m just watching/listening, I can do some curls, squats or lunges. But, primarily, I get outside and walk/snowshoe/pick up sticks in the yard/split firewood – whatever to get moving and get some fresh air. BUT – this works because I work from home AND no children.

    Thanks for this discussion! I find it helpful to maybe adjust what I’m doing when I read what has worked for other people.

  20. Jill Lehman says:

    I never comment much on blogs but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog! Thank you for all your work, delicious recipes and keeping life real! Your one of my favorite resources and I tell others about your blog 🙂

  21. SallyBR says:

    I could have written this post myself, we are very similar, although I’ve been drinking shrubs lately and found out I love them! I am addicted to Tony Horton routines, been doing them for almost 8 years now, but also have more exercise videos than I care to admit. T25 is pretty good, Insanity a bit much, I think – I don’t care for that woman from Biggest Loser (her name escapes me), I find her nasty and unpleasant as an instructor, but I own several of her DVDs (told you I have a problem… 😉

    I need to investigate Fitness Blender – am I going to regret it? 😉

    BTW I reviewed on my blog all the three series of Tony Horton – 90X, 90X2, and 90X3, as well as T25. Not sure it’s ok to include a link, but in case it’s fine, here it is


    • Mel says:

      I agree about Jillian Michaels – I’ve never been a super fan of her workouts and there are definitely some trainers I like more than others. Thanks for the tips and your reviews!

      • SallyBR says:

        YES!!! I’ve been searching for her name in my mind, did not want to look in the net because I “NEED” to work my brains. But it was killing me…

        oh, well… glad I got that out of my chest!

    • Natalie says:

      BEachbody has a deal right now on access to all tony Hortin WO and thousands of others.

  22. Melinda says:

    Question: I don’t looooove my crock pot and I’m on the hunt for one that will knock my socks off. What pretty piece of slow cooking machinery sits in your kitchen??

  23. Ashley says:

    Just curious, when you say you don’t eat after dinner, do you mean you don’t usually eat dessert with dinner? Or do you include dessert when you say “dinner?”

    I totally agree on the water…I would way rather eat my calories than drink them! (Except the occasional chocolate milk…that’s my weakness, so I never have it in the house)

    • Mel says:

      If there’s a treat…I eat it and then start the no eating rule. 🙂 Having said that, we don’t eat dessert after every meal (usually save the special desserts for Sundays), but I’m a sucker for a little piece of dark chocolate after dinner.

  24. Heather bell says:

    Thanks for the collection. And I only drink calories in a can of Dr Pepper a day. Afternoon snack lol

  25. Abbie says:

    I very rarely comment but I had to today. This post makes me so happy!!! You are so down to earth and realistic it’s great. I have been reading your blog for about 4 years nowand it is my go blog for recipes as I know they will be good and not wasted ingredients.

    Just so you know I asked for an InstantPot for Christmas because of you. I made the sweet ham today and it was so good even before adding the brown sugar mixture and baking. This will definitely be a family favorite. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s newletter recipe as well.

    Thanks for all you do!!!

  26. Amanda says:

    This is great Mel! Whenever I read your blog I feel like we are so similar. I definitely share your feelings on moderation rather than cutting out certain things, being hangry is a scary thing LOL! Also, I have 4 boys and 1 girl too I think I’ll be making the Asian chicken salad for my lunches next week. Thanks for everything, you’re the best!

  27. Lucy says:

    So would you mind sharing what those old school exercise videos are?

  28. Sophie says:

    Unlike the others, I’ve made approx 1 of those recipes. We clearly don’t lean towards the lighter side of your recipes, lol! Well have to add a few in to the rotation to feel better about all the crud we ate over the Holidays!

  29. SBakes says:

    Another shout out for Fitness Blender. I gave up my long-standing gym membership six months ago and haven’t missed it at all. Fitness Blender offers hundreds of free videos to fit anyone’s fitness level and goals. Pick the type of workout you want based on what body parts you want to target and how much time you have. Between Fitness Blender and Mel’s awesome healthy recipes, there’s no reason we can’t get and stay in great shape!

    • Natalie says:

      What is Fitness Blender?
      Is Fitness Blender YouTube videos you can watch anytime?

      • Mel says:

        Yes, it’s all free videos you can watch anytime:

        • Melissa K says:

          Oh how I wish broadband would come to rural Kansas so I could stream stuff like Fitness Blender!

          As a fellow exercise DVD addict I’m interested in hearing your fav HIIT/cardio workouts, Mel. Preferably low impact 😉

        • Mel says:

          Hi Melissa, I do a lot of the HIIT workouts from Fitness Blender (which doesn’t help you if you can’t stream workouts, bummer!) and also some from trainers like Chalene Johnson (she has an older workout program called Turbo Fire that I love). But I’ve also gotten some printable ones from – you might try searching there to see if they have any that might be low impact enough!

  30. Grace says:

    Like Marci, it was fun to realize I’ve made lots of these recipes! I’m stoked to find that they’re on the “healthy-ish” list, because they’re so good! Those are “diet” foods I can handle. 😉

  31. Teresa R. says:

    Great advice on dieting! It’s basically common sense – exercise, drink water (don’t drink your calories) and eat sensibly. My Dad always said “all things in moderation.” I look forward to your Friday instant pot recipe!

  32. Marci says:

    I’m feelin a little Julia Julia goin on here as I realize I’ve made 90% of those recipes You kill it in the veggie loaded, whole grains department. You’re amazing Mel!

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