29 Light Meals to Help You Reset After Thanksgiving
After Turkey Day, the last thing you want to do is eat *another* heavy meal. So when the hunger creeps in again—and, yes, it will happen—here are some of our favorite recipes for light meals to help get you back on track. From breakfast to dinner, these healthy recipes are under 500 calories and full of fiber-rich veggies and lean protein to keep you full and fueled all day long.
Ratatouille is a type of veggie-forward, Provençal-style stew. Our sheet-pan ratatouille features tangy goat cheese and sweet balsamic glaze that complement the tender charred vegetables. Bake the tomatoes on a separate pan so that the steam from the tomatoes won't steam the other vegetables.
Coconut Black Rice Bowls with Tofu & Purple Asparagus
Black beans, black rice and black sesame seeds all contain anthocyanins, potent antioxidant compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation. So "forbidden" rice isn't just striking, it's also a serious nutrition upgrade. Simmering it in coconut milk adds rich aroma and flavor.
Slow-Cooker Minestrone with Smoky White Beans
An abundance of vegetables, beans and pasta makes this soup so hearty you'll hardly notice the lack of meat. The drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan at the end adds a special touch to this slow-cooker minestrone.
Cajun Skillet Pork Chops with Asparagus & Cheesy Polenta
The Cajun pork chop rub adds a delicious smoky flavor to this easy skillet dish. This polenta has a nice sharp bite thanks to Cheddar cheese. Don't have any on hand? Try Parmesan or Gouda instead.
Cabbage Diet Soup
Loaded with cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, tomato and plenty of seasoning, this healthy vegetable soup packs in lots of flavor and is ultra-satisfying the way comfort food should be. This easy recipe makes a big batch for lunches or veggie-packed snacks all week. If you want to bump up the satisfaction factor even more, feel free to add other vegetables like green beans or squash.
Roasted Salmon with Smoky Chickpeas & Greens
In this healthy salmon dinner, you'll get a dose of greens and green dressing! Chowing down on six or more servings of dark leafy greens a week can help keep your brain in top shape. This dish features the Test Kitchen's current go-to method for doctoring a can of chickpeas: spice them up and roast until crispy.
Goddess Veggie Bowls with Chicken
Dark green dinosaur kale contrasts with the warm tones of bell peppers and tomatoes in these hearty chicken and veggie bowls.
Avocado & Kale Omelet
Move over, avocado toast. Top a high-protein omelet with avocado and fiber-rich kale and you'll keep hunger at bay for longer whether you have it for breakfast or you're serving it as a healthy dinner.
White Bean & Veggie Salad
This recipe can be a meatless main-dish salad or a satisfying side dish. It combines creamy, satisfying white beans and avocado. Try mixing it up with different seasonal vegetables.
Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Dressing
This hearty vegan salad is loaded with plant-based power ingredients: chickpeas, quinoa and hummus. We love the crunch of the sunflower seeds and the unexpected flavor of roasted peppers for this meal that can be on the table in 20 minutes.
Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes, Beans & Almond Pesto
Looking at a tangle of spaghetti squash tricks your brain into thinking you're about to eat a serving of eggy noodles, when in fact, you get a nice calorie and carb savings in this healthy recipe. Giving tomatoes a stint in a hot oven makes them candy-sweet.
Healthy Detox Salad
Skip the cleanse and make this part of your healthy meal plan. Packed with veggies, avocado and seeds, this healthy salad recipe is bursting with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Everything can be prepared ahead of time except the avocado. If you love beets, shred one raw and add it to the salad for extra color, crunch and flavor.
Veggie & Hummus Sandwich
This mile-high vegetable and hummus sandwich makes the perfect heart-healthy vegetarian lunch to go. Mix it up with different flavors of hummus and different types of vegetables depending on your mood.
Roasted Pistachio-Crusted Salmon with Broccoli
This easy one-pan roasted salmon with broccoli is quick enough for busy weeknight dinners but elegant enough for company. The lemony pistachio crust would also be lovely on other types of fish or chicken breasts.
Spaghetti Squash & Chicken with Avocado Pesto
Give pesto pasta a healthy makeover with this easy recipe that combines low-carb spaghetti squash with high-protein chicken breast. Top this powerhouse combo with homemade basil pesto that gets a creamy upgrade from ripe avocados to complete a mouthwatering chicken dinner.
Arugula Salad with Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Pears & Blue Cheese
Toasted walnuts and roasted pork tenderloin make this elegant salad worthy of company, yet it's easy enough to prepare on a weeknight!
In this healthy oatmeal recipe, cook apples into your morning oatmeal and you'll start the day right with whole grains and a serving of fruit.
Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto & Shrimp
Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Basil Sauce
Swapping spaghetti squash for pasta is a great way to cut back on carbs and calories in this saucy vegan dinner. Here, we have tossed the squash with a simple fresh tomato sauce. Jazz up the sauce with crushed red pepper flakes, Kalamata olives and/or capers, if you like.
Slow-Cooker Vegetable & Chicken Meatball Soup
Don't skip cooking the onions for the meatballs. This step softens the onions so they more easily add their sweet flavor to the meatball mixture. Best part? This slow-cooker meatball soup only requires 25 minutes of hands-on time.
Farro Salad with Kale
In this easy vegetarian recipe, hearty kale and other fresh veggies come together with nutty farro for an easy main-dish salad. The many varieties of kale vary in color and texture; all can be enjoyed cooked or raw. You can gently rub raw kale to make it more tender—massaging will help break down the thick, sturdy leaves. Pearled or semi-pearled farro has some or all of the bran layer removed, so it cooks more quickly.
Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts
Roasting salmon on top of Brussels sprouts and garlic, flavored with wine and fresh oregano, is simple enough for a weeknight meal yet sophisticated enough to serve to company. Serve with whole-wheat couscous.
Roasted Root Veggies & Greens over Spiced Lentils
This earthy bowl of lentils bursting with Middle Eastern flavors is topped with leftover roasted root veggies from a large batch for an easy weeknight dinner. Keep it vegan or add a drizzle of plain yogurt for extra richness.
Kale & Roasted Sweet Potato Hash
This one-pan hash makes an easy fall dinner or a simple dish for a healthy brunch. You can even poach the eggs ahead of time—slip them into steaming-hot water to rewarm them just before serving.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas
This healthy high-fiber salad comes together in just 10 minutes. Serve it right away or pack it in individual servings for four super-satisfying high-fiber lunches for the week ahead. To cut down on prep time, we're using preshredded Brussels sprouts from the produce department and store-bought roasted chickpeas. Look for roasted chickpea snacks with the healthy snacks or nuts at your grocery store.
Rainbow Buddha Bowl with Cashew Tahini Sauce
This vibrant bowl is packed with nutrients to keep you full for hours. Look for precooked lentils in the refrigerated section of the produce department.
Slow-Cooker Italian Vegetable & Farro Soup
The farro—an ancient whole grain rich in iron and fiber—and butternut squash make this slow-cooker soup hearty and filling. If you're looking for an easy way to work whole grains into your diet, this is it.
Date & Pine Nut Overnight Oatmeal
Chopped dates, honey and cinnamon provide natural sweetness to these overnight oats, and pine nuts balance each bite.
This salad is a helpful tool for weight loss because it provides a good balance of fiber, protein and healthy fats from loads of veggies and beans, all tossed in a tangy apple-cider vinaigrette. To meal-prep these for lunch throughout the week, pack the dressing and the salad separately and make sure your veggies are thoroughly dried before packing them together.