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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 enjoy the comfort food you crave — all while learning the building blocks of healthy eating.
This week’s menu is full of heart-smart meals. The good news: You’ve already got a head start against heart disease by cooking most meals at home. Those who cook more meals at home are more likely to eat less saturated fat, sugar and salt–substances that contribute to your heart disease risk. Eating at home more frequently also boosts your intake of protective ingredients like vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
The meals throughout this week feature heart-protective foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and seafood. With meals ranging from meatballs to a roasted veggie flatbread to spaghetti, your heart and belly will be content.
What to Eat This Week, October 2, 2023
Cereal lovers will be happy with these tasty breakfasts that satisfy sweet cravings without a ton of added sugar, plus they include filling protein and heart-healthy foods, such as nuts, seeds, fruit and oats. Oats stand out for beta glucan–a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels. Make a big batch of oatmeal to eat throughout the week and add the toppings right before breakfast.
Serve with plain Greek yogurt on top or on the side.
This recipe may sound like dessert, but it can also be eaten as a nutritious breakfast. For more fiber and nutritional goodness, serve it with a cup or piece of fruit. Cherries, strawberries, pineapple and bananas are a good flavor match for this sweet-tart, protein-rich pudding.
Replacing processed lunch meat with a veggie burger or rotisserie chicken are easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease. Sodium and protein levels vary with veggie burgers, so choose one with no more than 500 mg of sodium and at least 10 grams of protein.
Don’t have time to go homemade? Cook a frozen veggie burger according to package directions. Serve on a whole-grain bun or English muffin stacked with lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado. Have it with baby carrots.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Mix ½ cup rotisserie chicken meat with 1 ½ teaspoons mayonnaise, 1 ½ teaspoons Greek yogurt, and hot sauce to taste. Scoop mixture over chopped romaine lettuce and diced cucumbers. Serve with whole-grain crackers (such as Triscuits).
This week’s dinner lineup includes two seafood meals, a pattern that aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendation. We’ve also included crowd pleasers like meatballs and a veggie-rich flatbread that are sure to make it to your recipe collection. To make dishes heart-healthier, we’ve suggested swaps, like using a whole-grain pita or naan to make the flatbread.
An easy, coconut-infused spice topping transforms mild, flaky cod into a flavorful and impressive dish. Serve it with sautéed spinach and brown rice (microwavable or frozen if you’d like).
Between the herbed goat cheese and the hot honey drizzle, this veggie-packed flatbread is bursting with flavor. Although the recipe gives instructions for roasting your veggies during dinner prep, prepping them in advance will make this a lightning-fast meal. To make a heart-healthier flatbread, use a whole-grain pita or naan for the base, and serve it with a chickpea salad. To make the salad, toss canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed, with chopped tomatoes, cucumber and a bottled vinaigrette.
Several stealth swaps make these meatballs healthier than the traditional version. Lean ground turkey replaces the classic ground beef and pork blend. And whole-grain oats replace the usual breadcrumbs. In this case, the creamy gravy is flourless and butterless and uses a small amount of light cream cheese instead of heavy cream. The result tastes indulgent but spares you unhealthy amounts of saturated fat. Serve the meatballs with steamed green beans and brown rice egg noodles.
Chicken piccata is typically cooked in 4 to 6 tablespoons of butter. This version slashes the butter to just one tablespoon, and it replaces white flour with almond meal – a nutrient-rich, grain-free alternative. Enjoy it with roasted broccoli and baby potatoes.
Pasta is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is often noted as the healthiest diet. Here we’re serving it as they do in the Mediterranean region–as a side dish. While you’re cooking the pasta, sauté shrimp in olive oil to eat as your main dish. Serve with an easy salad or any veggie you like.
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:
- Baby carrots and roasted chickpeas.
- ½ grapefruit with nuts.
- Grape tomatoes and edamame.
- Snap peas with avocado dip. To make the dip, mash ⅓ avocado with ¼ cup defrosted frozen peas. Add a squirt of fresh lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
- Frozen blueberries (thawed) with ricotta cheese.