Power-Packed Recipes for Maximum Nutrition

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on October 14, 2013

Eating right is important no matter what age you are. You can feel better, have more energy, reduce the risk of disease and stay healthy by choosing nutrient-rich foods -- whatever your age.

As you get older, eating well becomes more challenging. You need fewer calories and those calories need to be packed with nutrients because your body doesn't absorb them as well. Good nutrition gets even trickier when appetite, medications, conditions, or diseases are factored in.

Boost your health with these quick, delicious, nutrient-rich meals that are packed with good nutrition and are low in calories -- perfectly suited for mature adults.

Nutritious Recipes for Breakfast

Breakfast Taco. Scramble 1 to 2 eggs, top with salsa and a tablespoon of cheese, and serve in a 5-inch whole-grain tortilla or corn taco shell. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and have only 73 calories each. One egg a day is fine for your heart, according to the American Heart Association. Salsa adds disease-fighting antioxidants found in tomatoes, onions, and peppers -- plus zesty low-calorie flavor.

Greek Yogurt Fruit Parfait. Layer fat-free Greek yogurt with bananas or your favorite fruit. For a healthy dose of fiber, top the dish off with low-fat granola, whole-grain cereal, muesli, or ground flaxseeds. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, and has twice the protein of regular yogurt. Bananas are available all year long and are a great way to add potassium to your diet.

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal. Whole grains with fruit are a nourishing way to start the day. Prepare oatmeal according to package directions. Add a handful of frozen blueberries while cooking. Top the prepared oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted slivered almonds. This powerhouse breakfast is rich with cholesterol-lowering fiber, antioxidants, and the protein that will keep you satisfied until lunch time.

Light and Nutritious Lunches

Ultimate Entree Chopped Salad. Start with a base of mixed greens (the richer in color, the more nutritious). Top it with a variety of chopped vegetables such as red peppers, jicama, mushrooms, and carrots. Add some rinsed canned beans, avocado slices, a tablespoon of feta cheese, and drizzle with a flavorful Asian salad dressing. Toss the salad and serve. This vegetarian meal tops the chart in nutrient-rich ingredients. It's packed with fiber, protein, healthy monounsaturated fats, and vitamins A and C. If you prefer animal protein, add a few slices of chicken breast, a hard-cooked egg, or a few shrimp.

Tomato Crab Bisque. Sounds complicated but this soup is a cinch. Saute a chopped onion, red bell pepper, and a few garlic cloves in a little olive oil. Add two 28-ounce cans of low-sodium fire-roasted tomatoes, 2 cups of low-fat milk, and one 6-ounce can of drained crabmeat. Heat thoroughly on medium low (do not boil). This soothing bisque is packed with antioxidant-rich veggies, including lycopene in the tomatoes, and calcium and vitamin D in the milk.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Layer thinly sliced pears or apples, your favorite sliced cheese, and basil or sage on some crusty rye bread. Use cooking spray on the outside of both slices of bread and brown lightly on both sides in a sauté pan. The fruit and cheese add fiber, calcium, protein, and important vitamins to your diet. Rye bread is whole grain, and according to a recent study, it may be more effective than laxatives in relieving mild constipation.

Delicious Healthy Dinners

Pistachio Crusted Salmon. Here is an easy way to eat fatty fish twice a week for heart health. Paint a salmon filet with a thin layer of honey mustard, and top with a combination of bread crumbs, parsley, and chopped pistachios. Broil in toaster oven or the regular oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Salmon is rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The pistachios add natural fiber, antioxidants, and protein. Complement this delicious dish with whole-grain brown rice and sautéed spinach. Spinach tops the list of super foods rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals, iron, folate, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin. Cut a pork tenderloin into 1-inch slices and brown the slices in a nonstick skillet on high heat, about 2 minutes per side. Mix 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons grainy mustard. Add to browned pork slices, cover, reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Serve it with a baked sweet potato, an excellent source of beta carotene, and a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, fiber, potassium, and iron. Pork tenderloin is a lean source of protein. It rivals the chicken breast as one of the leanest meats available, and is a good source of vitamin B12 and iron. For diabetic people, you can delete the maple syrup and still have a tasty dish.

Chicken Divan. Poach four boneless chicken halves in simmering water for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain, chop the chicken, and reserve liquid separately. Mix a can of fat-free cream of chicken soup with 1/2 cup light mayonnaise, 1/2 to 3/4 cup poaching liquid, and 1 teaspoon curry. In a casserole dish, layer broccoli and chicken. Cover with sauce and bake 30 minutes in 350 oven. Lean chicken breasts are a great source of nutritious and satisfying protein. Topped with broccoli, this dish adds fiber, vitamins C, K, A, folate, potassium, and cancer-fighting sulforaphane.

Super Snacks for Health and Nutrition

Pumpkin Smoothie. Blend 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree with 1 cup skim milk, a few ice cubes, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. This makes a delicious and energizing smoothie packed with vitamins A, C, K, E, D, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber. A half cup of canned pumpkin has 3.5 grams of fiber, more than most breakfast cereals.

Easy Baked Apple. Core an apple and stuff it with a teaspoon of brown sugar, squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of cinnamon. Microwave for 5 minutes. Top the tasty treat with a dollop of low-fat yogurt and chopped walnuts for added protein, fiber, and plant-based omega 3 fatty acids. For diabetic people, use chopped walnuts instead of brown sugar, or be creative and add another fruit.

Hummus With Veggies. Store-bought hummus paired with grape tomatoes baby carrots, celery, or bell pepper is an energizing and nutritious low-calorie snack. Hummus made from chickpeas is high in protein and fiber. It easily satisfies hunger between meals. Carrots, tomatoes, celery, and peppers boost vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.

Show Sources


USDA Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory.

Holma, R. J. Nutrition, March 2010.

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