New year, new you — at least, that’s what all the magazines say. If, like many of us, you’ve indulged just a bit too much over the holiday season (what, cookies and eggnog aren’t a balanced meal?), it might be a good time to detox (but don’t run away just yet).
The word “detox” tends to bring to mind scary-intense juice cleanses or a gluten- dairy-meat-grain-sugar-caffeine-free diet that will make you run away screaming (and hungry). But never fear — when we say “detox,” we’re talking about refocusing the mind, body, and palate on healthy, tasty, and nutritious foods. Instead of going crazy-restrictive and nixing all food groups except kale and steamed fish (not exactly a sustainable diet), let’s use the first weeks of 2014 to explore new tastes, textures, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Most of these recipes are based on healthy staples like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and both vegetarian and meat protein sources.
The following collection of recipes will get you psyched about eating well again (and might even help kick that cookie-a-day habit you picked up over the past two weeks). For a super-easy meal plan, just pick one recipe from each category per day.
1. Blueberry-Coconut Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal
This year, make your New Year’s resolution to eat a healthy breakfast every morning. Kick off 2014 on a tasty note with this flavorful, baked version of steel-cut oats. Since it’s a baked oatmeal dish, you can make it the night before and heat it up for on-the-go mornings.
2. Vanilla Chia Pudding
Start the day right with a healthy dose of chia seeds, which are loaded with protein, calcium, antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Not bad for a bunch of tiny seeds, right? Whip up this tasty breakfast-worthy pudding by mixing seeds with a cup of milk (soy, almond, or cow’s), a dash of vanilla, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Let the mixture sit for a few hours (or overnight) and watch the chia seeds create a creamy, pudding-like texture.
3. Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins
These gluten-free beauties are far from ginormous (gut-busting) bakery muffins. Instead of a carb-fest of processed sugar and white flour, these healthy little guys are made with brown rice flour, flax seeds, and applesauce. They’re sweetened with dried dates and topped with fresh blueberries and sliced almonds. Healthy enough for seconds, we think.
4. Veggie Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Is your breakfast style more savory than sweet? With just a tiny bit of olive oil and plenty of veggies and protein, this bowl is the real breakfast of champions. Pro tip: If your stomach isn’t ready for so much protein (egg, cheese, and quinoa) in the morning, this dish would make a bomb-diggety lunch or dinner, too.
5. Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast
Elevate your breakfast ritual with this flavorful take on eggs and toast. Rub slices of whole-wheat toast with garlic and a touch of olive oil, then top ‘em with charred tomatoes and fried (or poached) eggs.
6. Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins
Who needs sugar or white flour when you can make delicious, healthy muffins out of buckwheat flour, mashed banana, apples, walnuts, and not much else? With plenty of fiber and healthy fats, and a bit of protein (from the eggs and buckwheat), these wholesome pastries will keep you full all morning.
7. Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl
Loaded with bananas, chia seeds, almond milk, raw almonds, hemp seeds, cinnamon, and dried fruit, this breakfast is a veritable superfood spectacular. Since most of the work takes place the night before, it's ideal for busy mornings.
8. Wholesome Winter Fruit Granola
Pre-packaged granola (and especially granola bars) are often loaded with sugar, preservatives, and other unsavory ingredients that won’t exactly help you recharge after a decadent holiday season. The solution? Make your own! This easy recipe contains just whole grains, a tiny bit of oil and maple syrup, and nuts and dried fruit for flavor.
9. Rainbow Salad
The best way to eat healthy (without thinking about it too much) is to make sure there are a variety of colors and hues on your plate at every meal. This one-bowl salad takes care of lunch on that front. Chopped romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, red pepper, and avocado provide a veritable rainbow of produce. Add sesame seeds and salt and pepper on top for flavor.
10. Detox Salad
What’s in a name? This recipe title says it all. Made with raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit, this salad is a nutritional powerhouse that’ll have you feeling strong and healthy (and satisfied) in no time.
11. Pumpkin-Lentil Soup with Maca
Fall’s definitely over, but we’re not willing to forget about pumpkin just yet. This flavorful soup features maca, a cruciferous plant native to the Andes that has similar health benefits to cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. If you can’t find it in your area, feel free to omit and enjoy the blend of lentils, coconut milk, curry powder, and kale all on their own.
12. Autumn Arugula Salad with Caramelized Squash + Pomegranate Ginger Vinaigrette
This salad has something for everyone. Love crunch? You’ll enjoy the pomegranate seeds, cucumber, and chopped pecans. Need something more filing? The cooked squash rings and creamy avocado slices will keep you satiated all afternoon. Live for spice? The arugula and gingery dressing will keep taste buds happy.
13. Sweet Potato, Fennel, and Olive Salad with Crispy Kale and Quinoa
This savory lunch option is reason #58462 that “detox” doesn’t have to mean “hungry all the time” and “boring” and "juice cleanse." Top quinoa with roasted sweet potatoes, crispy baked kale, marinated fennel, and olives for a healthy, filling lunch (or dinner).
14. Baked Sweet Potato with Greens
For a hearty, healthy lunch that comes together in a jiffy, look no further. Simply roast a sweet potato (if you’re short on time, pop it in the microwave for seven to 10 minutes), fill it with sautéed onion and greens and fresh avocado, and season with cayenne pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
15. Winter Greens, Kabocha Squash, and Pear Salad
Usually, we want nothing to do with celebrity diets — but we couldn’t pass up this tasty-looking salad created by Gwyneth Paltrow. The fresh lunch dish contains spicy arugula, radicchio, and endive, filling kabocha squash, and sweet pear. Top it all with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and a sprinkling of fresh Parm.
16. Quinoa-Cranberry Chicken Salad
On days when you’re hungry like the wolf, a light veggie salad is not going to cut it. Instead of inhaling the contents of the vending machine, prep this super-filling, super-healthy chicken salad. Loaded with quinoa, chicken, and almonds, this nutritional powerhouse will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.
17. Vegetarian Sushi
Variety is the spice of life — or at least the spice of lunch. Sick of blah-looking salads? Mix things up with this homemade vegetarian sushi. Pick your own fillings (crunchy veggies, tofu, seitan, or even slices of omelet), choose white or brown rice, and get rolling.
18. Black Bean and Quinoa Chili
For cold winter days, there’s no better lunch than a cup of homemade soup. Kick it up a notch with this spicy, veggie-rich chili. This stew gets its unique flavors from a variety of spices and herbs, including cinnamon!
19. California Chicken, Veggie, Avocado, and Rice Bowls
The weather outside may be frightful, but these grilled chicken bowls are delightful (and well worth a trip outdoors). Combine grilled chicken, red peppers, and zucchini with rice (choose brown for more fiber), easy homemade guacamole, tomatoes, and a sprinkling of cheese.
20. Wild Rice and Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole
We’re happy to present a healthy casserole that doesn’t involve dumping a can of cream-of-something soup on top of egg noodles and topping with a mountain of cheese. This wholesome baked dish is loaded with nutritious ingredients such as butternut squash, ground turkey, wild rice, spinach, and just a bit of cheese.
21. Lentil, Kale, and Sweet Potato Stew
Warm up after a long day in the cold (or at the office) with this rich, hearty, and 100-percent vegetarian stew. With seven different veggies (and plenty of room for more), this is a flexible dinner option to keep in your back pocket for long, dark winter nights.
22. Fall Mexican Rice Bowls
Pretty much anything tastes better when it’s served in a bowl, which is probably why this dish (basically a deconstructed burrito) is so darn appealing. Layer spicy rice, sweet potatoes, kale, and chicken in bowls and serve with plenty of lime wedges, avocado, and salsa.
23. Lemon Chicken Stew
When life gives you lemons (or cold, gloomy days), make lemon stew! This rib-sticking concoction features dark meat chicken, celery, carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, orzo pasta, and of course, lemon. Make it more of a one-pot meal by subbing in a heartier whole-wheat pasta like penne or rotini.
24. Chickpea Stuffed Eggplant with Couscous and Tahini Sauce
Get psyched for this fancy-looking Mediterranean-inspired dinner that takes only 30 minutes to make and only 10 minutes of active prep time. Roast the eggplant in the oven, cook couscous and mix in sautéed onion, garlic, tomatoes, diced eggplant, and chickpeas. Once the eggplant is done roasting, scoop some couscous filling into each eggplant half and top with the flavorful tahini dressing.
25. Green Goddess Enchiladas
Healthy enchiladas? Nope, it’s not a joke. This Tex-Mex entrée features chickpeas and veggies and gets its creamy consistency from Greek yogurt and a small sprinkling of low-fat cheese. Rev up the flavor by adding more chilies, scallions, and plenty of pepper.
26. Thai Curry with Tilapia and Veggies
Fish and vegetables, the mainstay of any detox program or low-cal diet, gets the royal treatment with this exotic recipe. Coconut oil, coconut milk, cilantro, lime, and red curry paste make this light, fish-focused meal far from boring. Feel free to sub in tofu to make this dish a vegetarian option.
27. Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Store-bought veggie burgers can be a dangerfood, so we’re all about making our own at home. It’s as simple as mixing up cooked quinoa, black beans, tomato paste, egg, corn, rolled oats, flour, cumin, and chipotle chilies. Once you’ve made the “meat,” shape patties and store them in the fridge or freezer until burger night.
28. Maple Roasted Chickpeas
Whip up a batch of these tasty chickpeas to ensure plenty of healthy snacks for the week. With a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkling of brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon, they’re a healthy way to enjoy a sweet treat.
29. Minty Pea Dip
For those times when you’re just sick and tired of hummus, salsa, and guac, this fresh dip hits the spot. Whiz peas, mint leaves, lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Dip in with homemade pita chips, veggies, or thin slices of whole-grain baguette for a healthy snack.
30. Ham and Broccoli Quinoa Bites
This slightly more substantial snack is ideal for the 3pm munchies. Made with quinoa, eggs, ham (omit for a vegetarian-friendly recipe), broccoli, and cheese, these little nuggets are loaded with protein and will keep you full ‘til mealtime.
31. Savory Pumpkin-Flaxseed-Onion Crackers
Looking for something crunchy to eat with your favorite dips and spreads? These healthy crackers contain just nine ingredients (including salt and pepper) — compare that to your favorite brand of store-bought crackers. Plus, with flax seed and pumpkin seeds making up two of the main ingredients, these crispy crackers pack quite a nutritional punch.
32. Sweet Potato Hummus
It’s no secret — we’re pretty obsessed with all varieties of hummus around here. This tasty variation gets an extra boost of fiber and beta-carotene from a baked sweet potato. Just blend the sweet potato, chickpeas, cider vinegar, tahini, olive oil, and a touch of maple syrup or agave in a food processor and you’re ready to snack!
33. Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips
Kale chips are the perfect solution for when you want to eat junk food but also feel good about your dietary choices. They’re super easy to make at home — just toss chip-sized pieces of kale with a bit of olive oil, and let them crisp up in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. This version — reminiscent of salt-and-vinegar potato chips — gets flavor from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkling of sea salt.
34. Cinnamon Fruit Kebobs
Turn regular old raw fruit into a fancy snack (or dessert) with this simple cooking technique. Cut fruits into bite-size chunks, put them on skewers, and cook them on the grill, basting with a mixture of cinnamon and honey, until they’re golden brown. The recipe calls for pineapple, white nectarines, and plums, but other similarly-sized fruits would probably work just fine.
35. Vegan Pesto
Nobody should live a life without pesto — even those who choose to avoid dairy. This “pesto” recipe is a little unconventional. Instead of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, it gets flavor and texture from an eggplant, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, and cilantro. Serve as a base for pizza, or enjoy as a dip with veggies or multi-grain bread.
36. Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Peas, Avocado, and Lemon Basil Dressing
Get excited about eating healthy with this fresh and bright grain salad that’s far from boring. Combine quinoa, asparagus, peas, basil, and avocado, and top it all with lemon juice and salt and pepper.
37. Honey-Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Crispy Sage
Crispy, herby, and slightly sweet, this side dish hits plenty of flavor high notes. With just a few tablespoons of olive oil in the whole dish, it’s a super-light way to take advantage of cauliflower’s cancer-fighting nutrients.
38. Long Weekend Grilled Salad
This salad — loaded with grilled veggies like peppers, zucchinis, and corn — makes a delicious side dish or even a light lunch. Black beans and wheat berries add some protein and fiber to keep you fuller, longer.
39. Detox Slaw
Cabbage (both purple and green), carrot, onion, and sesame seeds come together to make this super-bright, super-healthy raw veggie salad. Drizzle the shredded vegetables with homemade tahini dressing to give it some bright, nutty flavor. You’ll feel healthier after just one bite!
40. Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese
Take advantage of these slightly sweet winter root vegetables by making this side dish, stat. It’s super simple — just roast beets in a sauce made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme. When the beets are cooked all the way through (about 30 minutes), slice them up and sprinkle with creamy goat cheese.
41. Citrus Salad
Did you know that citrus fruits are at their best during the winter? Brighten up cold gloomy days with this summery (and healthy) salad. Peel and slice up two oranges, two clementines, a grapefruit, and a few slices of red onion. Top the sweet-and-savory concoction with chopped basil and mint.
42. Oven-Braised Artichokes
Braising artichokes (aka cooking them for a long time in hot liquid) is an excellent way to bring out the veggies’ complex flavor and soften up even the toughest leaves. Before sticking them in the oven, make sure to remove the hard outer leaves, choke (the fuzzy stuff in the middle), and the pointy spines at the top of each leaf.
43. Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette
Need a break from all those mashed potatoes, buttered rolls, and breakfast breads? Squash is here to save the day — it provides some healthy (and satisfying) starch but doesn’t send you into a carb-induced coma after one bite. This acorn squash recipe, which features garlic, lime juice, honey, hot red chili, and cilantro, will wake up your taste buds in no time.
44. Roasted Cabbage Wedges
For some reason, cabbage is not exactly the season’s hottest vegetable (it’s especially odd given that Brussels sprouts, basically mini-cabbages, are super trendy right now). Join Team Cabbage for good with these crispy roasted wedges. Seasoned minimally with just salt and pepper, olive oil, and fennel or caraway seeds, this easy recipe lets cabbage’s texture and flavor really shine.
45. Almond Antioxidant Smoothie
Get your daily dose of antioxidants with this berry-rich blend. Mix up fruit of your choice (tart cherries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are all loaded with the healthy compounds) with a dash of almond milk, honey, and vanilla for an energizing way to start the day.
46. Ginger Cucumber Juice
While juice cleanses are usually not a good idea, we won’t turn our noses up at a glass of green juice first thing in the morning (as long as it’s not the only thing being consumed all day). This pungent beverage features cukes, cayenne pepper, lime juice, parsley, and ginger — it’ll definitely wake you up in the morning.
47. Coconut-Lime Detox Drink
This green machine drink manages to be the oh-so-elusive combination of super-healthy and super-tasty. To make it, just blend together baby spinach, lime juice, lemon juice, coconut water, and a drizzle of maple syrup (to keep it from getting too sour).
48. Green Holiday Detox Smoothie
Feeling like Santa himself after one too many trips to the holiday party dessert table? We’ve all been there. Feel fresh ‘n’ clean after just one sip of this superfood-filled green smoothie. Combine kale leaves, raw cranberries, frozen strawberries, juice, and a bit of water, and hit “reset” on your diet.
49. Purple Power Smoothie
This blended drink is absolutely loaded with healthy fruits and veggies, from carrots to spinach to blueberries. Pump up the flavor with fresh ginger, mango, and your favorite milk.
Do you “detox” for the New Year? Share your ideas in the comments below.