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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 a new year — all while learning the building blocks of healthy eating.
Meal planning isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Spend just 10 or 15 minutes mapping out your meals, jot down what you need and head to the store. That’s it. And since the beginning of a new year is busy enough, we’ve also got suggestions for streamlining meal prep — and, best of all, you can even take the weekends off if you’re dining out or getting together with family and friends.
What to Eat This Week, January 30, 2023
This week marks the beginning of February, also known as American Heart Month. So, this week’s focus is on a nutritious, plant-filled diet that includes healthy sources of fat (such as seeds, nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil). Seafood is another top food to reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of seafood per week. So, we’ve followed their guidance when planning this menu. And since we know that convenience is a top priority, we’ve kept things simple with easy meal prep, quick staple ingredients (like frozen brown rice and prepped veggies), and even fast food options (though they’re higher in sodium than we’d like). Whether you’re actively trying to lower your risk for heart disease or working on healthier eating habits to boost your energy, mood, brain skills, and quality of life, we know you will enjoy the menu we’ve selected for the week ahead.
Make mornings easier by spending five to 10 minutes prepping the night before. Come breakfast time, you’ll be happy you did.
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Using leftover coffee, make the coffee-chia topping before you head to bed. Then assemble the rest of the parfait in the morning.
Pumpkin Overnight Oats with Greek Yogurt
To make, mix 1/2 cup each oats and unsweetened almond milk with 2 tablespoons pureed pumpkin, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with Greek yogurt on top or on the side.
Serve tots with hard boiled eggs and a cup or piece of fruit.
Continuing with the heart-health theme, we incorporated several heart-smart strategies into the lunch selections. For instance, smoked salmon is a convenient way to score heart-protective omega-3 fats. We dressed up the meal like a bagel but made it heart healthier by using a whole grain English muffin and Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese. If you’re not fond of smoked salmon, you can try canned or pouched salmon or tuna, which have been featured on previous menus. In addition, the quinoa salad is loaded with antioxidant-rich produce to protect your heart.
Leftovers or Takeout
Need inspiration? Choose one of the healthiest things to eat at Starbucks.
Chicken Quinoa Salad
To make, toss ½ cup shredded rotisserie chicken with ½ cup quinoa, ½ chopped apple, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of bottled vinaigrette. Spoon mixture over pre-washed salad greens and add 1 tablespoon of shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top.
Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwich
Toast a whole grain English muffin and spread with Greek yogurt. Top each half with capers, red onions, lettuce, tomato slices, and smoked salmon. Serve with cucumber slices.
Dinners include multiple heart-smart swaps, like ground chicken and lentils in place of ground beef and whole grains instead of refined grains. But the best part about this week’s dinner lineup is that you’ll be too tuned into the flavor to think about how wholesome the meals are.
Marinating chicken breasts in yogurt is as simple as it gets, but it transforms dry chicken breasts into the most tender meal. Serve with quinoa (microwavable or frozen if you want to save time) and roasted vegetables.
A Chinese takeout dish could have 77% more sodium than what’s recommended in a day. We’re not saying this dish is low in sodium, but making a Chinese-style dish at home will save you tons of salt and sugar. You’ll also get more veggie goodness when cooking yourself since restaurants tend to serve skimpy portions. To get an even bigger veggie boost, double up on the red pepper and asparagus, and make more sauce if needed. Serve your stir-fry with brown rice.
Courtesy Sweet Potato Soul
Eating a meatless meal at least once a week helps you boost your intake of plant foods, and a higher consumption of these nutritional gems lowers several risk factors for heart disease. We chose tacos for this menu because they’re an easy way to dip your toe into meatless meals. This version calls for making guacamole, but if you don’t have time, you can swap it with a store-bought variety and garnish with cubed mango for a special touch. While you have the kale out, saute some extra to serve with your tacos.
Making meatballs with ground chicken instead of ground beef reduces saturated fat — the kind that can raise your risk of harmful LDL cholesterol. And you won’t miss the beef in this insanely tasty meal. Feel free to swap broccoli for the broccolini, and serve your meatballs over whole grain, chickpea, or lentil pasta with a lower-sugar jarred pasta sauce.
Courtesy Olive and Mango/ Grandbaby Cakes
Salmon is loaded with heart-protective omega-3 fats, and this easy marinade makes it the perfect thing to cook when you don’t want to fuss in the kitchen. The recipe calls for soy sauce, but we’d suggest swapping that with lower-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos — a milder, less salty alternative. Serve your salmon with broccoli and brown rice (frozen or microwavable to save time).
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:
- Grape tomatoes with creamy taco dip. To make the dip, add some taco seasoning to Greek yogurt and mix.
- Red pepper strips with egg salad
- Cucumber slices and edamame
- Freeze-dried apple or strawberry chips with nuts
- ½ grapefruit with Greek yogurt