Welcome to Start TODAY. Sign up for our Start TODAY newsletter to join the 30-day challenge and receive daily inspiration sent to your inbox.
You asked, we answered! Hundreds of Start TODAY members told us they wanted more healthy, balanced meal ideas to help them reach their health goals. This dietitian-designed meal plan gives you the flexibility to ease into spring and summer - all while learning the building blocks of healthy eating.
It's officially summer, so we're lightening up the menu by getting creative with leafy greens. Think: as a pizza topper, sprinkled on sheet-pan chicken and blended into pasta sauce.
We're also doubling down on seafood options. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of non-fried fish per week to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. While red meat should be eaten less often than other types of meat, you don't have to eliminate it if you like it. When eating red meat, choose a lean cut and trim it of any visible fat. And instead of making meat the featured ingredient, include it with plant-based foods. The steak salad on this week's dinner menu is an excellent example of this strategy.
This week, basic toast gets a tasty upgrade with elevated toppings. The first version is a spin on a caprese salad, spread with creamy, heart-healthy avocado. A large study found that higher avocado intake is associated with a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease and a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease in general. The second is the perfect combo of crunchy and creamy with just a dash of sweetness.
Avocado Caprese Toast by Joy Bauer
Make it with whole-grain toast and serve with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese on the side.
Ricotta and Pear Toast by Andrea Lynn
Make it with whole-grain toast. You can also swap in cottage cheese or Greek yogurt if you have those on hand.
Choose plain or lower-sugar Greek yogurt with one piece or one cup of fruit and up to ¼ cup of nuts or seeds.
This week's lunch menu shows you how easy it can be to put together heart-healthy meals in minutes. We're talking no-recipe-required easy!
Top ½ to 1 cup cooked brown rice with ½ cucumber and ? avocado, diced, 1 piece roasted seaweed, crumbled, 2 ounces smoked salmon and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Drizzle with reduced-sodium soy sauce to taste.
Top each half of a toasted whole grain English muffin with pesto, warm, lower-sugar marinara sauce, tomato slices and cottage cheese. Serve with snap peas on the side.
This week's rotation includes heart-healthy spins on pasta, pizza and steak. If you want to streamline meal prep, choose the recipes that catch your eye and double (or triple) them to serve later in the week. You can also serve leftovers for lunch.
Dylan's Green Noodles by Dylan Dreyer
This spin on pesto uses baby spinach instead of basil. We recommend using chickpea pasta so you'll get enough protein to make it a balanced meal. Fix yourself a side salad for an easy veggie boost.
Sheet-Pan Fish with Tomatoes and Green Beans by Yasmin Fahr
This sheet-pan dish is as easy to make as it is to clean up. Most markets sell pre-washed and prepped green beans if you want to simplify it further. Serve it with roasted new potatoes, which you can cook on a separate sheet pan.
Lavash Thin Crust Salad Pizza by Joy Bauer
Made with store-bought, whole grain lavash, this pizza will be on the table faster than takeout. It's heavy on the veggies and light on the cheese - a ratio that's better for your heart than a typical slice. Since this meal lacks protein, serve it with rotisserie chicken or sautéed shrimp.
Lucky Greens and Steak Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing by Jet Tila
Heart-healthy superstars in this steak salad include lentils, leafy greens, pear, pomegranate and pecans. Balancing red meat with nutritious plant foods is a good way to incorporate it into a healthy menu.
Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt by Melissa Clark
Chicken and potatoes are seasoned with cumin and harissa and drizzled with a yogurt sauce in this sheet-pan dish. A sprinkling of arugula is used to add a pop of color to this dish, so we recommend making a separate side salad.
Snacks that contain whole food sources of protein and fiber offer a winning formula that keeps you full for hours. Here are a few ideas:
This article was originally published on TODAY.com