EatingWell recipes are as good for you as they are delicious. So our recipes start with healthy ingredients—mainly nutrient-rich, unprocessed and seasonal whole foods.
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EatingWell's reputation is built upon recipes that are as good for you as they are delicious. This starts with healthy ingredients. Our recipes emphasize nutrient-rich, unprocessed and, whenever possible, in-season foods.

All EatingWell recipes are analyzed for their nutrient content and are consistent with nutrition parameters set by EatingWell's team of registered dietitian nutritionists. 

A dietitian reviews all recipe analyses as well as other published nutrition content.

How We Test Our Recipes

Each of our recipes is thoroughly tested in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. We create healthy, delicious recipes that are easy for anyone to cook at home.

  • Each recipe is tested by multiple people.
  • Testers shop major supermarkets to research availability of ingredients.
  • Testers measure active and total time to prepare each recipe.
  • A Registered Dietitian reviews each recipe to ensure that the recipe is not only delicious, but fits within our nutrition guidelines as well.
Cheesy Spinach-&-Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Nutritional Analysis

EatingWell conducts a complete nutritional analysis of all recipes using Food Processor® SQL software (ESHA Research), which uses USDA nutrition data.

The nutrient content published for EatingWell recipes is similar to what is included on the Nutrition Facts panels of packaged foods. The following information is included: calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, total sugars, added sugars, protein, fiber, sodium and potassium. The nutrient content published on EatingWell.com includes these values, plus phosphorus, monounsaturated fat and Carbohydrate Servings (also known as Carbohydrate Choices). 

Analyses are given in whole numbers. Nutrient values less than 0.5 are rounded down to 0; 0.5 to 0.9 are rounded up to 1.

How We Analyze

Trans fat: We do not include trans fat content in our published analyses because it would almost always be zero. 

Salt: Occasionally a recipe will call for a "pinch" of salt or salt "to taste"; in these cases we analyze the recipe with 1/16 teaspoon or 1/8 teaspoon of salt, respectively. Recipes are tested with iodized table salt unless otherwise indicated. Kosher or sea salt is called for when the recipe will benefit from the unique texture or flavor. We assume that rinsing reduces the sodium in canned ingredients, such as beans, capers, artichokes and roasted red peppers, by 35%.

Butter, brines, breadings and marinades: Butter is analyzed as unsalted unless salted is specified. We do not include trimmings, breadings, brines or marinades that are not used or absorbed; we have a proprietary protocol for determining sodium and sugar absorption from brines and marinades.

Alternative ingredients: When multiple ingredient options are listed in a recipe, we analyze the first one suggested. Optional ingredients and garnishes are not included in our analyses.

Added sugar: EatingWell calculates the grams of added sugar in every recipe using nutrition data from the USDA.

Nutrition Bonuses: When a recipe delivers 20% or more of the Daily Value of a key nutrient, we list it as a nutrition bonus.

Serving Sizes

EatingWell's portions are determined based on meal type, included food groups and what is commonly accepted as a healthy serving of a particular food item. For example, suggested servings for meat, poultry and fish are generally 3 to 4 ounces, cooked. A recommended portion of a starch-based side dish, such as rice or potatoes, is generally ½ cup. Vegetable side dishes are a minimum of ½ cup. Portion suggestions are intended to help people eat in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Quinoa Avocado Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Nutrition Parameters and Health Considerations

Our recipes are developed taking into consideration specific target goals for calories and sodium (see chart below). Numbers in parentheses indicate the maximum amount per serving of recipes in that category. 

Category

Calories

Sodium (mg)

Entrees

≤500

≤480

Combination Meals

≤750

≤750

Side Dishes

≤250

≤360

Appetizers

≤250

≤360

Muffins & Breads

≤250

≤360

Desserts

≤300

≤360

Dips & Salsas

≤100

≤140

Sauces

≤100

≤240

Salad Dressings

≤100

≤140

Drinks

≤250

≤140

Our health and diet tags help readers quickly identify recipes appropriate for specific eating plans and health conditions. The only tags that apply to drink recipes are Allergies, Vegan, Diabetes-Appropriate, and Gluten-Free.

All of the nutrition and health consideration tags can be found with each recipe on EatingWell.com.

Allergies

Dairy-Free: Contains no dairy products or ingredients that have been derived from or contain dairy. Such ingredients include, but are not limited to, butter, cheese, cream, all forms of milk (fluid, dry, evaporated and condensed), sour cream and yogurt. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established dairy-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education.

Check the labels of processed foods, such as chocolate, some breads, nondairy products and processed meats like deli meat and sausage, to make sure they don't contain hidden sources of dairy.

Egg-Free: Does not contain any type of egg (including, but not limited to, chicken, turkey, duck, quail and goose eggs) or ingredients that are derived from or contain any egg component. Such ingredients include, but are not limited to, whole eggs, egg whites, egg powder, eggnog and egg-based mayonnaise. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established egg-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education. 

Check the labels of processed foods, such as ice cream, pasta, pretzels and breakfast foods like pancakes to make sure they don't contain hidden sources of egg.

Nut-Free: Contains no peanuts or any varieties of tree nuts, nut butters or nut-containing ingredients, with the exception of coconut. The FDA identifies coconut as a tree nut, but it is responsible for very few allergic reactions, and the reactions that do occur are not generally observed in people with other tree-nut allergies. It is recommended that individuals with tree-nut allergies talk to their allergist before consuming coconut. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established peanut and tree nut–containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education. 

Check the labels of processed foods, such as condiments and chocolate, to make sure they don't contain hidden sources of nuts.

Sesame-Free: Contains no sesame seeds or ingredients derived from sesame seeds, such as tahini, gomasio or halva. Starting January 1, 2023, sesame will become the ninth major allergen that must be labeled in plain language on packaged foods in the U.S. While some manufacturers may begin labeling for sesame sooner, they are not required to do so. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established sesame–containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education. 

Check the labels of processed foods, such as condiments, hummus, crackers and other snack foods, to make sure they don't contain hidden sources of sesame.

Soy-Free: Made without any form of soy or soy-containing ingredients. Such ingredients include, but are not limited to, edamame, miso, soymilk, soy sauce, soy yogurt, soybean oil, tamari, tempeh and tofu. We review the ingredients of each recipe using an established soy-containing ingredient list from Food Allergy Research & Education. 

Check the labels of processed foods, such as broths and condiments, to make sure they don't contain hidden sources of soy.

Anti-Inflammatory:

While there is no scientifically defined protocol for reducing inflammation through diet, there are specific nutrients, food groups and eating patterns that research associates with having an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Thus, recipes tagged Anti-Inflammatory are those that promote getting sufficient amounts of two or more of the following: vitamin D (>4 mcg); leafy greens (>1 cup per serving); fresh or unsweetened frozen berries (>1/2 cup per serving); deep orange or dark green vegetables (>1/2 cup per serving); omega-3 fatty acids (at least a 3-ounce serving of a fish determined to be high in omega-3s: anchovies, herring, mackerel, sablefish (black cod), salmon, sardines, sea bass, swordfish, oysters, trout and tuna (albacore or yellowfin)).

Bone Health:

Recipes that receive a Nutrition Bonus for calcium (≥260 mg calcium per serving, or 20% DV) and/or ≥4 mcg (20% DV) vitamin D per serving.

Diabetes Appropriate:

Recipes are low in calories and are consistent with general recommendations for average carbohydrate intake per meal (30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates or 3 to 4 Carbohydrate Servings/Counts). Additionally, recipes are limited in saturated fat and sodium (at levels recommended by the American Diabetes Association), as people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke compared to people without diabetes.

Category

Calories

Sat. Fat (grams)

Sodium (mg)

Carbohydrate Servings

Entrees
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian, fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood

≤375

≤3

≤4

≤480

≤2.5 (≤37g)

Combination Meals
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian, fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood

≤575

≤5

≤6

≤750

≤4 (≤60g)

Side Dishes

≤200

≤2

≤360

≤2 (≤30g)

Appetizers

≤200

≤2

≤360

≤1 (≤15g)

Muffins & Breads

≤200

≤2

≤360

≤2 (≤30g)

Desserts

≤225

≤2

≤360

≤2 (≤30g)

Dips & Salsas

≤75

≤1

≤140

≤1 (≤15g)

Sauces

≤75

≤1

≤240

≤1 (≤15g)

Salad Dressings

≤75

≤2

≤140

≤1 (≤15g)

Drinks

≤150

N/A

≤140

≤2 (≤30g)

Gluten-Free:

Does not contain wheat, barley or rye or any ingredient that contains or is derived from one of these ingredients (e.g., triticale, spelt, kamut, wheat bran, durum flour, enriched flour, semolina). 

We review the ingredients of each recipe using the gluten-containing/gluten-free food and ingredient lists of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (available through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) and the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Check the labels of processed foods, such as broths and condiments, to make sure they don't contain hidden sources of gluten.

Healthy Aging:

Recipes that promote getting sufficient amounts (providing a minimum of 20% DV) of two or more of the following: dietary fiber (≥5 g), protein (≥10 g), vitamin D (≥4 mcg) or calcium (≥260 mg). A recipe that alone delivers ≥25 g protein is also eligible for the Healthy Aging tag. These are the nutrients identified as nutrients of concern for this population by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that consuming 25 to 30 grams or more of protein at each meal can help to slow or prevent age-related loss of lean body mass.

Healthy Immunity:

While there is not ample scientific evidence that, for a healthy person, any one nutrient boosts immunity, certain nutrients—including protein, vitamins A, C, D and E, and zinc—are needed for the immune system to function properly. Thus, Healthy Immunity recipes promote getting sufficient amounts (providing a minimum of 20% DV) of two or more of these nutrients: protein (≥10 g), vitamin A (≥180 mcg RAE), vitamin C (≥18 mg), vitamin D (>4 mcg), vitamin E (≥3 mg alpha-tocopherol), zinc (≥2 mg).

Healthy Pregnancy:

Recipes that are considered to be an excellent source of at least one of the following nutrients, which are identified in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as particularly important during pregnancy: vitamin D (≥ 4 mcg), iron (≥ 3.6 mg), iodine (30 mcg) or folic acid/folate (≥ 80 mcg DFE).

Recipes will not include: raw or unpasteurized cheese; alcohol (unless it is optional or a nonalcoholic substitute is suggested); raw sprouts; raw or undercooked eggs (e.g., Caesar salad dressing or hollandaise sauce); deli or luncheon meats (unless instructions include reheating until steaming); raw fish; fish to be avoided during pregnancy (tilefish, shark, swordfish, king mackerel).

Note that it is recommended during pregnancy to consume no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna per week due to the potentially high mercury content. Recipes that contain less than 6 ounces per serving may still qualify as pregnancy-appropriate.

*People who are pregnant should speak with their medical team about any dietary concerns or questions

Heart Healthy:

To receive a Heart-Healthy tag, recipes must meet the following thresholds for saturated fat and sodium. Recommendations are based on the guidelines for the American Heart Association Heart-Check program and general recommendations for reduced saturated fat (≤5-6% of total calories) and reduced sodium (≤1,500 mg/day).

Category

Sat. Fat (grams)

Sodium (mg)

Entrees
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish, seafood

≤2
≤3
≤4

≤360

Combination Meals
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish and seafood

≤4
≤5
≤6

≤600

Side Dishes

≤2

≤240

Appetizers

≤2

≤240

Muffins & Breads

≤2

≤240

Desserts

≤2

≤240

Dips & Salsas

≤1

≤140

Sauces

≤1

≤140

Salad Dressings

≤2

≤140

Drinks

N/A

N/A

Healthy Cholesterol:

Research shows that foods high in dietary cholesterol do not directly impact blood cholesterol levels, though other components of cholesterol-containing foods can, such as saturated fat. To receive a Healthy Cholesterol tag, recipes must follow the American Heart Association Heart-Check program recommendation for reduced saturated fat (≤5-6% of total calories).

Category

Sat. Fat (grams)

Fiber (grams)

Entrees
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish and seafood

≤2
≤3
≤4

≥6

Combination Meals
     Beef, poultry, pork, vegetarian
     Fish, seafood
     Omega-3-rich fish and seafood

≤4
≤5
≤6

≥8

Side Dishes

≤2

≥3

Appetizers

≤2

≥3

Muffins & Breads

≤2

≥3

Desserts

≤2

≥3

Dips & Salsas

≤1

N/A

Salad Dressings

≤2

N/A

Sauces

≤1

N/A

Drinks

N/A

N/A

High Blood Pressure:

To receive a High Blood Pressure tag, recipes are consistent with the nutrient recommendations of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which promote a reduced intake of saturated fat and sodium and encourage intake of potassium.

Thus, these are recipes that qualify for a Heart-Healthy tag plus provide a minimum of 20% DV of potassium (≥940 mg).

High Calcium:

Recipes that receive a Nutrition Bonus for calcium (≥260 mg calcium per serving, or 20% DV).

High-Fiber:

To receive a High-Fiber tag, entrees must contain 6 grams or more of dietary fiber per serving. This fulfills 20% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber (DV for dietary fiber = 28 g/day) and, according to the FDA, can be considered an "excellent source" of this nutrient. Because combination meals have larger serving sizes and typically contribute more calories to your day, they must contain 8 g or more of dietary fiber per serving. All other recipe categories (see below), where serving size is likely to be smaller, must contain a minimum of 3 g of dietary fiber per serving. This fulfills 10% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber and, according to the FDA, can be considered a "good source" of this nutrient.

Category

Fiber (grams)

Entrees

≥6

Combination Meals

≥8

Side Dishes

≥3

Appetizers

≥3

Muffins & Breads

≥3

Desserts

≥3

Dips & Salsas

≥3

Sauces

≥3

Salad Dressings

N/A

Drinks

N/A

High-Protein:

Contains ≥7 g protein per serving (1 protein serving) for a side, snack, dessert or appetizer recipe, which is >10% DV. Contains ≥15 g per serving (2 protein servings) for any entree or combination recipe, which is >20% DV.

High Vitamin D:

Recipes that receive a Nutrition Bonus for Vitamin D deliver ≥4 mcg Vitamin D per serving, or 20% DV.

Low Added Sugars:

Contains 3 g of added sugar or less, approximately 5% of the Daily Value for added sugars.

The DV for added sugars is 50 grams per day based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

A generally accepted principle for reading Nutrition Facts labels is that any food containing 5% or less of the Daily Value for a given nutrient is considered to be low in that nutrient. Since there is currently no standard definition for what defines "low sugar" or "low added sugar," EatingWell applies that same principle to determine which recipes should be considered low in added sugars.

Low-Calorie:

Nutrition parameters for EatingWell recipes are based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, an intake level that is appropriate for an average healthy person who is trying to maintain a healthy weight. Recipes that qualify as Low-Calorie are consistent with a 1,500-calorie-per-day diet (indicating a 25% total calorie reduction per day), an intake level that enables most people to lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Category

Calories

Entrees

≤375

Combination Meals

≤575

Side Dishes

≤200

Appetizers

≤200

Muffins & Breads

≤200

Desserts

≤225

Dips & Salsas

≤75

Sauces

≤75

Salad Dressings

≤75

Drinks

N/A

Low-Carbohydrate:

Any recipe with ≤14 g of total carbohydrate.

The current Daily Value for carbohydrate is 275 g, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This recommendation is in line with the generally accepted principle for reading Nutrition Facts labels that any food containing 5% or less of the Daily Value for most nutrients is considered to be low in that nutrient. (5% of 275 g is 14 g.)

It is the position of the American Diabetes Association that, for most people with diabetes who practice carbohydrate counting, it is not necessary to subtract the amount of dietary fiber from total carbohydrates when evaluating the carbohydrate content of a food. Therefore, whether a recipe receives a Low-Carbohydrate tag is based on its total carbohydrate content (including fiber, starch and sugar).

Low-Fat:

Recipes that provide ≤4 g total fat. The current Daily Value for fat is 78 g, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, and this value is consistent with ≤5% DV for total fat.

Low-Sodium:

To receive a Low-Sodium tag, recipes must meet the following thresholds for sodium (see chart below). Recommendations are based on the guidelines for the AHA Heart-Check program and general recommendations for reduced sodium (≤1,500 mg/day).

Category

Sodium (mg)

Entrees

≤360

Combination Meals

≤600

Side Dishes

≤240

Appetizers

≤240

Muffins & Breads

≤240

Desserts

≤240

Dips & Salsas

≤140

Sauces

≤140

Salad Dressings

≤140

Drinks

N/A

Check the labels of packaged and processed foods, such as broths and condiments, and canned foods, such as beans, for their sodium content, and seek out versions that are lower in sodium to use in recipes. 

Omega-3:

Recipes that provide at least a 3-ounce serving of a fish determined to be high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish that are eligible for this tag include: anchovies, herring, mackerel, sablefish (black cod), salmon, sardines, sea bass, swordfish, oysters, trout and tuna (albacore or yellowfin).

Vegan:

Vegan recipes are tagged based on their omission of all animal-based products (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs) and ingredients from animal sources (e.g., butter, lard, gelatin, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, animal-based broths, honey, etc.).

Check the labels of ingredients, such as chocolate, to make sure they do not contain any hidden sources of animal products.

Vegetarian:

Meatless (i.e., no meat, poultry or seafood) or includes meatless options and contains no ingredients derived from meat-based products (e.g., gelatin, animal-based broths, fish sauce, oyster sauce, etc.). These recipes may still include eggs, egg products, butter and milk or other dairy-containing ingredients.

On a regular basis, EatingWell reviews the current scientific literature to assess whether additional nutrients should be considered for Nutrition Bonuses or if our Nutrition and Health Considerations need to be revised.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does EatingWell still use a Low-Fat tag?

While following a diet low in total fat is not necessary from a health-guidance perspective, information on recipes that qualify as low-fat may be appropriate for some people. 

Because fat contains more calories per gram of fat (9 calories per gram) than either carbohydrates or protein (both contain 4 calories per gram), recipes that are higher in fat are typically also higher in calories. Therefore, people who are aiming to reduce their total caloric intake may also choose to limit their fat intake to more easily meet their calorie goal and may find it helpful to search for recipes based on fat content. It is important to note that scientific evidence does not suggest there is a greater benefit to following a low-fat diet for weight loss compared to another calorie-controlled diet. 

Reducing the fat content of meals may also be indicated for individuals who have had their gallbladders removed. While there are no specific diet recommendations after gallbladder removal, for individuals who experience trouble with diarrhea post-removal, following a lower-fat diet may help to minimize the problem.

2. Why aren't there calorie recommendations for Heart-Healthy parameters?

The nutrition parameters for a heart-healthy diet are limited to those that are known to have an impact on overall heart health—sodium and saturated fat. 

Not everyone who chooses to follow a heart-healthy diet is also aiming—or needing—to lose weight. Therefore, calorie restrictions for this tag are not indicated. Recipes tagged as heart-healthy follow EatingWell's general nutrition parameters for calorie content, which are based on a 2,000-calorie diet, a calorie intake level determined to be adequate for weight maintenance in most adults. Individuals who want to lose weight are advised to look for recipes that are also tagged as Low-Calorie.

3. How were the recommendations for the Healthy Immunity tag established?

While there is not sufficient scientific evidence to support immune-boosting capabilities of any one particular nutrient, getting enough of certain nutrients is important for maintaining normal immune function. Individuals who are deficient in these nutrients may also be immunocompromised. 

The nutrients emphasized in the Healthy Immunity tag are those that play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. These nutrients, however, have not been shown to enhance immunity when consumed in excessive quantities. As such, recommendations are intended to help individuals meet the recommended intake levels without promoting excessive intake. 

4. How does EatingWell determine its guidance on omega-3 fatty acids?

The only established guideline for intakes of omega-3 fatty acids is AI, or Adequate Intake. According to the National Academy of Medicine, "intake at this level is assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy; established when evidence is insufficient to develop an RDA [Recommended Dietary Allowance]."

Because most Americans do not consume seafood every day, consuming a higher quantity of omega-3 fatty acids in a given meal a couple of times a week will help meet the recommended AI. 

Therefore, EatingWell considers seafood with at least 500 milligrams of omega-3s per serving as acceptable to receive an Omega-3 designation.

There are several plant-based foods that are considered good sources of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, including flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil. However, the benefits of ALA independent of EPA and DHA are not well documented. And, while the body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, the conversion rate is limited at best. For these reasons, recipes high in plant-based omega-3s do not currently qualify for an Omega-3 tag.

5. Why aren't there limits on added sugar for all recipes?

EatingWell aims to limit the added-sugar content of all recipes, using the minimum amount necessary while still making a concerted effort to not completely sacrifice flavor and texture.

For those interested in limiting added sugar in their diet, EatingWell does use a Low Added Sugar tag that has been established based on the Daily Value for added sugars. 

6. Why do some recipes exceed your target guidelines?

Some types or categories of recipes, such as pizza, sandwiches or cakes, often include ingredients that are naturally higher in sodium (e.g., pizza dough, sandwich bread, tomato sauce, cheese, etc.), added sugars (e.g., icing, baked-good mixes, etc.) or saturated fat. Also, if changing the recipe too much to meet our guidelines jeopardizes the authenticity of the recipe, we don't. 

Where possible, healthier alternatives that are lower in so-called "less- healthy" nutrients will be recommended, but even so, meeting the general EatingWell thresholds for these recipes may still be challenging, if not impossible, while preserving the flavor of the dish. 

To balance out the higher levels of less-healthy nutrients in such dishes, EatingWell aims to emphasize other nutrient-dense ingredients, such as vegetables and whole grains, in each of these recipes, if and when applicable.