This year for Lent, I gave up pasta thinking it would inspire me to create healthier meals options. Not only did it not do that, it was surprisingly much harder than the 24 Day Challenge! I ended up replacing pasta with way worse meals like pizza, burgers, fries and sweets because I was still craving those heavenly white carbs. Instead of losing weight (like I thought would happen), I gained several pounds! Not having protein and vegetables in my diet was the reason giving up pasta was so much harder than the challenge. It’s funny what eating balanced meals will do for you!
Post challenge, I wanted to find recipes that were satisfying and healthy to keep me on track! Obviously, I wanted healthy replacements for pasta to help satisfy my inner carb goddess. Here are my four favorite recipes that not only helped me get through the challenge, but have become staples.
- No Bake Energy Bites (courtesy of Gimme Some Oven): I love these little bites because it’s almost like eating cookie dough but instead of providing guilt, they deliver a nice burst of energy and calm the hunger. During the cleanse, I made them without the chocolate chips and used just enough honey to keep them together. I am allergic to peanuts, so almond butter is a great alternative. Almonds, pecans and walnuts are great add-ins for a crunch! These are great to keep at my desk for a snack to help get through the day without caving and getting pretzel M&Ms. Although they do have added sugar (honey), it is a much better trade to have two of these than candy.
- Brown Rice Noodle Pad Thai (courtesy of Brownies for Dinner): There is an awesome Thai place near work that I would frequent (sometimes three times a week) to get my Thai fix! I was looking for recipe so I could skinny it up and make it at home. I mostly followed this recipe with a few tweaks. To ensure there was enough protein, I added another egg in and grilled up some chicken. I added in a few peppers, roasting them before, to get my veggies in. Using half the noodles helped to cut down on the carb intake and I made sure to buy brown rice noodles. Instead of using brown sugar, I added a tablespoon of honey. This recipe lasted me 5 meals and it definitely was a great substitute for take-out Thai!
- Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir Fry (courtesy of Skinny Taste): Skinny Taste is one of my favorite places to look for healthy recipes and I have yet to be disappointed. This is a super easy and fast recipe that has basic ingredients that I can usually find in my pantry and refrigerator on any given day.
- Zucchini Noodles in Chunky Tomato Sauce (courtesy of Gimme Some Oven): Zucchini noodles are one of my all-time favorite healthy dinners these days! You have dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes and it’s not only filling but very satisfying. I always grill up some chicken or chicken sausage to get my protein in! This recipe is great but sometimes a jar of your favorite pasta sauce does the trick when you don’t have all the ingredients.
Finding healthy dishes that remind you of your favorite restaurant or homemade meals make it much easier to get through the week while still eating healthy. I have learned to make sure I have protein and vegetables in my meals so these are some ways that I have beef up the recipes above. Without them, I notice I get hungry shortly after and start looking for a snack. It’s much easier to spend a few extra minutes making a rounded meal then scavenging for snacks late night!
Happy healthy eating! Post what your favorite healthy meals are in the comments below!