Jumpstart your slim-down success with five days of nutritious meal ideas
Nutrition expert Joy Bauer, RD, came up with this menu based on the Live Longer & Stronger challenge. The six participants lost nearly 300 pounds combined, and you can shed weight, too. Just stick with the plan on the next few slides. "The best part? You can still eat some of your standbys, but you'll also discover new favorites!" says Joy. Also, keep these guidelines in mind:
1. Eat on a schedule. Choose 1 breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 dinner each day. Plus, enjoy an afternoon snack and the option of a daily splurge from the "Snacks & Sweets" list (slide 5).
2. Drink water during the day, including 8 oz before lunch and dinner. The glass of H2O will fill you up, helping you eat less at mealtime.
3. Start with vegetables at dinner. Try a salad or a broth-based vegetable soup. (The high-fiber content of the vegetable course helps to curb hunger.)
Oatmeal with fruit & nuts
Prepare ½ cup plain oats with water. Top with 2 Tbsp raisins or fresh fruit (1 cup berries; 1 chopped apple, peach or plum; or ½ banana) + 1 Tbsp chopped nuts. Optional: Add 1 tsp sugar, honey or maple syrup + a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
In a bowl, mix ½ cup quick-cooking oats + 4 egg whites + ½ tsp vanilla extract + 1 Tbsp sugar + ½ tsp ground cinnamon. Pour the mixture into a heated skillet that has been coated with oil spray. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes each side.
In a small skillet coated with oil spray, scramble 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites (beaten). Split and toast a whole-grain English muffin or whole-wheat sandwich thin. Layer the bottom half with a tomato slice + scrambled eggs + 1 slice reduced-fat cheese + an optional squirt of ketchup or hot sauce. Top with the other muffin half.
In a blender, combine ¾ cup milk (skim, soy or unsweetened almond) + ½ banana + 1 cup frozen berries + 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder + 3 to 5 ice cubes. Blend until smooth.
Toast with cream cheese, tomato & onion
Split and toast a whole-grain sandwich thin. Top each half with 1 Tbsp light cream cheese + a few tomato and onion slices.
Pile a mix of vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, onions and mushrooms onto your plate. Add 2 of the following proteins: ½ cup beans or chickpeas; 3 oz plain tuna; 3 egg whites; or 3 oz chicken, turkey, fish or tofu. Top with ¼ avocado and toss with 2 Tbsp low-calorie dressing.
Skinny tuna melt
Mix 6 oz chunk light tuna + 2 tsp reduced-fat mayonnaise + 1 Tbsp minced onion in a bowl. Toast 2 slices low-calorie whole-grain bread and top each slice with the tuna salad + 2 slices tomato and onion each + 1 oz lowfat cheese. Place open-faced sandwich under broiler until cheese is bubbly.
Layer lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted peppers + 3 or 4 slices turkey + a spread of light mayo, mustard and/or hummus between 2 slices low-calorie whole-grain bread (no more than 50 calories per slice). Serve with carrots and cherry tomatoes.
Curried chicken salad
Mash 4 oz cooked chicken breast + 1 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise + 2 Tbsp minced onion + 1 tsp curry powder + ½ cup thawed frozen green peas. Serve with red pepper and celery sticks.
Soup & side
Enjoy 2 cups vegetable, lentil or minestrone soup, or vegetarian chili. Serve with 2 cups steamed edamame (in the pod).
Slim-style chicken Parmesan
Cook 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (bake, roast or panfry in oil spray), top each with 2 Tbsp marinara sauce + ¼ cup grated part-skim mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is melted. Serve with green beans.
Balsamic chicken with broccoli
Sauté ½ onion + 1 red pepper (chopped) + 1 tsp garlic powder + ¼ tsp red pepper flakes in a skillet coated with oil spray for 5 minutes. Add 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to the pan, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Add ? cup balsamic vinegar + a 15-oz can diced tomatoes (drained) and bring the liquids to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Fish with salsa
Top four 6-oz grilled or baked fish fillets (cod, halibut or tilapia) with ¼ cup salsa each. Serve with steamed asparagus.
Sauté ½ chopped onion + 1 sliced red pepper + ½ cup sliced mushrooms + ½ cup sliced carrots + ½ cup snow peas in a skillet coated with oil spray until just tender. Add 1½ lb peeled shrimp and sauté until just cooked, about 2 minutes. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce.
Mini turkey meat loaves
Dice and sauté 1 onion + 1 red pepper + 2 carrots; allow to cool. Mix vegetables + 1¼ lb lean ground turkey + 2 egg whites + ¼ cup ketchup + 1 tsp dried thyme + ½ tsp each salt and pepper. Divide among 8 muffin cups; bake at 425°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
Enjoy one afternoon snack per day:
• Granola bar (180 calories or less)
• 1 piece fruit
• Nuts, raw or roasted (one ¼-cup handful)
• Baby carrots with ¼ cup hummus
• Celery sticks with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
• 1 oz lowfat cheese
• 1 container nonfat/lowfat Greek yogurt
And one daily treat:
• 8 oz soft-serve frozen yogurt
• 150 calories' worth of any light popcorn
• 1 oz dark chocolate
• 1 glass wine
JOY BAUER, MS, RD, is the nutrition and health expert for NBC's TODAY show. For more recipes and weight-loss plans, visit and check out her bestselling books: and . Follow Joy on Facebook and Twitter (@joybauer).