Is there an easy way to figure out what I should eat today Google? Ask that question and you will be flooded with results from nutritionists, recipe sites, and food bloggers. The biggest problem is deciding on what you’ll be eating. you don’t want to eat too little, but you don’t want to overdo it either. Let’s go through just a few of the things that can help you figure out what to eat today.
Healthy foods to eat every day: 6 of the best
Experts suggest that there are certain foods that people should eat every day. These include lean protein and a variety of vegetables. Additionally, including foods such as olive oil, nuts, and berries can help people lower their risk of certain chronic conditions.
Consuming a healthy diet that includes all the food groups can help a person improve their intake of essential nutrients.
Many people eat repetitive diets and the same foods every week. However, incorporating the following foods into weekly meal plans can help them stay healthy and perform at their best.
For example, a person could try a 2-week rotating meal plan and vary their protein sources, vegetables, and berries. This adds variety and a range of nutrients.
This article looks at some of the healthiest foods to include in the diet every day. It explores what the research says about their health benefits and offers some tips for consuming them.
1. Lean protein
People need protein for healthy growth and development and to maintain muscle mass.
Eating protein at each meal can help balance blood sugar levels and avoid the spikes that may happen when eating carbohydrates on their own. This approach can help people maintain their energy levels and concentration.
The amount of protein a person needs depends on factors such as their sex, age, and weight. Additionally, protein requirement varies according to how much and what type of activity the person does and if they are pregnant or nursing.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that most people in the U.S. eat enough protein but need to select leaner varieties of meat and poultry and increase the variety of protein foods they eat, choosing meats less often.
According to the USDA, adults need 5–7 ounces (oz) of protein each day. The following are examples of common healthy protein foods and their protein content:
- 1 sandwich slice of turkey = 1 oz
- 1 small chicken breast = 3 oz
- 1 can of tuna, drained = 3–4 oz
- 1 salmon steak = 4–6 oz
- 1 egg = 1 oz
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter = 1 oz
- 1 cup of lentil soup = 2 oz
- 1 soy or bean burger patty = 2 oz
- one-quarter of a cup of tofu = 2 oz
People should try to vary their protein sources to consume a wide variety of amino acids and other essential nutrients.
2. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfurous compounds called glucosinolates. These are beneficial to health.
According to one 2020 review, glucosinolates regulate cell pathways and genes and may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects.
The compounds may also be beneficial for treating and preventing metabolic syndrome, but scientists need to conduct more research to prove this.
The following is a list of cruciferous vegetables that people can aim to eat every day:
- broccoli sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
Also, as well as sulfur compounds, cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals.
Leafy greens such as arugula and watercress also contain beneficial sulfur compounds.
3. Different colored vegetables
Health experts including the American Heart Association (AHA) recognize the Mediterranean diet as one of the healthiest ways to eat.
Diets that emphasize vegetables, such as plant-based diets and the Mediterranean diet, can help lower the risk of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Eating a range of different colored vegetables every day helps ensure an intake of a wide range of phytonutrients, which are beneficial plant compounds.
The USDA’s MyPlate resource recommends that adults eat 2–4 cups of vegetables per day depending on their sex, age, weight, and activity levels.
The USDA also advises that people eat different colored plant foods, including leafy greens, beans, and lentils.
Consuming berries can help people achieve some of their daily nutrient goals.
For example, one 2015 study suggested that eating a 100-gram portion of raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries could provide more than 50% of someone’s daily requirement for manganese, vitamins such as vitamin C and folate, and phytochemicals.
Berries are excellent sources of bioactive compounds such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. Because these compounds act as antioxidants, they may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower the risk of some cancers.
Some berries to eat every day include the following:
Fresh or frozen berries are better than dried types, which only have 20% as many phytonutrients.
Research indicates that eating nuts every day can be beneficial for health.
For example, a 2019 prospective study involving over 16,217 adults with diabetes found that people who ate 5 or more servings of nuts each week had a lower risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and mortality than those who ate fewer than 1 serving of nuts per month.
Specifically, tree nuts were more beneficial than peanuts in preventing chronic conditions.
One 2020 study suggested that some people may be reluctant to eat nuts because of their high fat content.
However, the authors pointed out that nuts are nutrient dense foods that do not have an adverse effect on body weight. Indeed, when they replace other less healthy foods in the diet, they may help reduce body weight.
Some people are unable to eat nuts because of an allergy. For those who can eat nuts, choosing plain, unflavored, and unsalted nuts is a healthy option. All nuts contain essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
Brazil nuts are one of the best dietary sources of the mineral selenium, with a single nut providing 95.8 micrograms (mcg). This is significantly more than the daily adult requirement of 55 mcg.
6. Olive oil
Olive oil is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. Olives are rich in polyphenols. These act as antioxidants, protecting the body against oxidative damage.
One 2018 study suggested that the phenolic compounds in olive oil have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties in test tube studies.
Although scientists need to conduct more human research, the authors of this study suggested that people who consume less olive oil may benefit from increasing their intake.
Extra virgin and unfiltered olive oil contain the highest levels of beneficial polyphenols. However, quality olive oil is usually more expensive, so people can reserve this for drizzling over salads and vegetables. Using standard olive oil for cooking may be more cost effective.
Dinner Ideas That Don’t Need a Recipe
Chicken & Veggie Pan Roast
What You’ll Need: Chicken breasts, dried herbs and spices (garlic powder, rosemary, ground pepper, oregano, etc), roasting veggies (we like onions, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes), and olive oil
We love sheet pan meals because all you need to do is put your meat and veggies on a pan, drizzle with a bit of EVOO, spice everything to taste, set it, and forget it. The best part? All of these ingredients can easily be paired with some lettuce and some rinsed chickpeas for the next day’s lunch.
We recommend setting the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll have a well-rounded dinner ready to eat in 30 to 40 minutes.
Pesto Zoodles with Chicken, Tomatoes & Pine Nuts
What You’ll Need: Zucchini, olive oil, jarred pesto, grilled or pan-cooked chicken, grape tomatoes (cut in half), and pine nuts
Love the taste of pasta dishes, but looking to cut back on calories? Zoodles, or zucchini noodles, are the perfect solution. After you create noodles with the vitamin C-rich veggie, toss ’em in a sauté pan with some olive oil and let them get a bit soft. Then, add in the pesto, chicken, and tomatoes. After you’ve plated your meal, top with pine nuts. Done and done.
No spiralizer? No problem. A veggie stripper can also create zoodle-like strands in seconds.
Berry, Goat Cheese, & Quinoa Salad
What You’ll Need: Berries (we like blueberries and raspberries), spinach, chopped almonds, goat cheese, your favorite vinaigrette dressing
As the quinoa is cooking on the stove, wash and chop your berries and nuts. After the quinoa has cooled a bit, add it to a bed of spinach, along with the nuts, fruit, goat cheese, and dressing.
We love this lazy dinner recipe because it’s easy to pull together and serves up a host of antioxidants and a source of complete protein. Not to mention, it’s 100% Instagram-worthy.
Chicken & Veggie Teriyaki Stir-Fry
What You’ll Need: Cubed chicken breasts, dry Asian seasoning, low-sodium teriyaki sauce (we like Organicville Island Teriyaki), frozen Asian-style veggies, brown rice or black bean noodles (we like Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti)
After you put up a pot of water to boil for the spaghetti, place the chicken breasts in a lightly greased skillet and sprinkle it with some seasoning. Once it starts to cook a bit, dump in the vegetables and cover the skillet with a lid. After a few minutes, add some more seasoning to the vegetables and a bit of teriyaki sauce, to taste. Once the meat, veggies, and your starch of choice are fully cooked, it’s time to plate your protein and veggie-filled meal.
Chicken Fajita Salad
What You’ll Need: Cubed chicken breasts, Mexican seasoning (we like Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning Blend), sliced bell peppers, sliced onion, drained and dried black beans, chopped romaine lettuce, sliced avocado, low-sodium salsa (we like Newman’s Own Mild)
See ya, Chipotle. Thanks to this quick and easy recipe, you won’t need to waste your hard-earned cash on pre-made food again. Throw the chicken and veggies on a lightly greased skillet, sprinkle it with Mexican seasoning, and cover with a lid. Once the meat is cooked and the veggies are soft, remove from the heat and allow it to cool. Next, begin to construct your salad. Start with the greens and then pile on the avocado and salsa. Last, top it off with the chicken and veggie mixture.
Grilled Steak with Roasted Asparagus & Brown Rice
What You’ll Need: 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, crushed red pepper, chopped scallions, sirloin tip side or top round steak, asparagus, olive oil, salt, pepper brown rice
In a shallow bowl, combine the first five ingredients and place the steak in the marinade. Let the flavors mingle in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. While the meat is tenderizing, snap off the ends of the asparagus and toss the top part into a bowl with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Oh, and don’t forget to make the rice. Next, heat your grill to high and place the meat and asparagus on the slats and cook until slightly charred.
Caprese Entree Salad with Whole-Grain Pita
What You’ll Need: Spinach, chopped tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, ground pepper, shredded basil, toasted whole-grain pita
If you’re a fan of Insalata Caprese apps from Italian restaurants, you’ll be a fan of this entree-sized bed of greens, too. To make this stress-free recipe at home, toss spinach or your favorite green into a large bowl, and top with ingredients two through eight. Serve with a toasted whole-grain pita for a complete and filling meal.
Skeptical that this dish will be enough to sate your appetite? Add your favorite source of protein. Grilled chicken and steak both make for appetizing additions. And if you’re looking to put a fun twist on this classic dish, add some sliced fresh peaches. It may seem like an odd combination, but we promise you that it tastes divine.
Chicken Israeli Salad Over Greens
What You’ll Need: Cubed chicken breasts, chickpeas, diced onion, diced tomato, diced cucumber, diced red bell pepper, ground pepper, dry parsley, red wine vinegar, olive oil, your favorite salad green
This refreshing Middle Eastern salad is beyond tasty and takes less than 20 minutes to make. Start your culinary adventure by tossing the chicken on a hot skillet and seasoning it with your favorite spices. While it’s cooking, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and combine them with the vegetables. Once the chicken is cooked and cooled, add it to the bean and vegetable mixture, and sprinkle everything with pepper, parsley, vinegar, and oil, and serve over a bed of your favorite greens.
Eat This! Tip:
Use the leftover mixture to make a pita for the next day’s lunch.
Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries & Roasted Asparagus
What You’ll Need: Pre-formed raw turkey burgers, dry rosemary, garlic powder, ground pepper, sliced sweet potatoes, paprika, asparagus, extra virgin olive oil, your favorite salad green, sliced tomato
To make this better-for-you “cookout,” throw the turkey burgers on a grill pan and season with rosemary, garlic powder, and ground pepper—this should all be happening while your oven is pre-heating to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, chop the sweet potatoes and snap the ends off the asparagus. Lay each veggie on their own bake pan and drizzle both with some olive oil and pepper, and give the spuds a dusting of paprika.
Instead of serving your burger on a bun, enjoy it with some lettuce and tomato—you know, the stuff you typically find snuggled up with your burger in between the bread. Your body doesn’t need the additional carbs when it’s already getting a potent punch of the nutrient from the taters.
Veggie Frittata with Avocado Toast & Berries
What You’ll Need: Eggs, cracked and whisked, your favorite chopped veggies, grated parmesan, salt, pepper, Ezekiel bread, avocado, your favorite fresh berries
Sometimes brinner is the only thing that will hit the spot. And for those nights, we suggest whipping up this simple—yet flavorful—meal. Here’s how to make it: Grease a 9×9 baking dish and pour in the veggies and eggs. Add parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. In the meantime, wash the berries, toast the bread, and top each slice with some mashed avocado. And speaking of the creamy, delicious fruit, check out these avocado recipes for weight loss.
Veggie Soup & Grilled Cheese
What You’ll Need: Olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, chopped zucchini, canned crushed tomatoes, 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock, dried thyme, ground pepper, cannellini beans, Ezekiel bread, your favorite cheese, grass-fed butter
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until it starts to become fragrant. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, stock, thyme, and pepper, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for up to 45 minutes, and toss in the beans right before you turn off the burner. Round out your meal with an ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwich.
Eat This! Tip:
You might have noticed we suggest using grass-fed butter over conventional varieties. That’s because it’s an excellent source of fatty acids that can support weight loss. One acid, conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, is sold commercially as a fat-burning supplement.
Black Bean Quesadillas & Salad
What You’ll Need: Can of black beans, can of corn kernels, 1/2 small minced red onion, 1 minced clove garlic, minced cilantro, shredded Mexican-style cheese, taco seasoning, corn tortillas, romaine lettuce, diced tomato, diced avocado, diced cucumber, lime dressing
To make this family-friendly Tex-Mex dish, drain the can of beans and the can of corn and rinse them lightly with water. Place the beans in a large bowl and mix in the onion, garlic, cilantro, cheese, and taco seasoning. Spoon the mixture on one side of each tortilla and fold over, sandwich style. Cook over a hot skillet until the tortilla has browned and the cheese has melted.
Best Healthy Lunch Foods to Eat
1. Canned Tuna
“Seafood is packed with protein, helping you feel full and satisfied. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, known for their role in heart and cognitive health,” says Chrissy Carroll, RD at Snacking in Sneakers. “Canned tuna is by far one of the most inexpensive and accessible ways to include seafood in your diet, and since it’s shelf stable you can keep it on hand at all times,” she adds.
Canned tuna (and other fish) can be used in sandwiches, salads, casseroles, pasta and so much more. A classic tuna melt is a no-brainer.
Not a fan of tuna? Allison Knott, M.S., RDN, CSSD, endurance sports dietitian based in New York City notes that other canned fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel are also great to keep in your pantry. Knott likes to mix it with a little mayonnaise, lemon and pepper for a simple salmon salad. She also recommends topping whole grain toast or crackers with canned sardines or mackerel for a quick and easy lunch that satisfies.
2. Mini Sweet Peppers
If making half your plate vegetables is a challenge at lunch, try keeping a bag of colorful mini peppers or other ready-to-eat vegetables in your fridge. “Ready-to-eat vegetables like mini sweet peppers or carrot chips are convenient and have a satisfying crunch, which can be a great alternative to chips when paired with a sandwich,” says Knott.
With no cutting, cooking or prep required, there’s little excuse not to eat them! Knott recommends finding vegetables that you enjoy eating raw and keeping them on hand as a simple addition to a meal. If mini peppers aren’t your thing, try snap peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots or cucumbers. Vegetables not only add important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to keep you healthy, but they also add fiber, which can help you stay full for longer.
Don’t be afraid to add your favorite dip or dressing to make them more fun to eat.
If you’re tired of quinoa (or don’t love it), make farro the base of your next grain bowl. With 6 grams of protein and 3 g of fiber per ½ cup (45 g) cooked, it’s guaranteed to help keep you full all afternoon. According to Symone and Chantel Moodoo, dietitians for busy lifestyles, the protein and fiber found in farro take longer to digest, slowing the rate at which sugar gets released into your bloodstream. This helps you feel full longer and avoid a mid-afternoon slump.
Farro can replace almost any grain (unless you eat gluten-free). It’s a great base for salads, grain bowls or even stuffed peppers. Try our Farro and Grilled Chicken Salad, or our Cherry, Almond, and Farro Salad for easy make-ahead lunches.
4. Veggie Burgers
Veggie burgers are a great way to add more plant-based meals to your week. “They are convenient, filling, and can be a good source of fiber and protein,” says Knott. Make your own on a weekend (try our lentil burger or zucchini chickpea burger) and freeze for easy lunches.
Alternatively, grab a box from the freezer aisle. Knott notes, “While frozen options are very convenient, sodium can add up quickly.”
A good rule of thumb is to aim for less than 400 milligrams of sodium per burger (see all our tips for buying the healthiest veggie burgers). Whether you’re making your own or using store-bought (no shame!), look for higher protein options, especially those made with beans, lentils, tofu or other soy products, to stay satisfied for hours.
Beyond the traditional bun with your favorite toppings, you can add veggie burgers to grain bowls, salads or wrap them in butter leaf lettuce. Get creative with your toppings, too! Try pesto or guacamole for healthy fats that add a ton of flavor.
5. Ricotta Cheese
Think this ultra-creamy cheese is just for lasagna? Think again. “It’s a versatile dairy product that can add flavor and texture to a sweet or savory lunch. Plus, it has both protein and fat to help you feel full longer,” says Carroll. As with any dairy product, much of the fat is saturated fat, so you’ll want to consider your whole diet and how it fits in. If you eat other full-fat dairy and red meat, you may want to choose part-skim ricotta.
To serve, spread a layer of ricotta on whole grain toast and add your favorite toppings. For a savory option, Carroll recommends arugula, sliced beets or roasted winter squash, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. For a sweet option, try sliced banana or strawberries with sliced almonds and honey. Pair either option with a piece of fruit or, for some crunch, some raw veggies for a quick, well-balanced lunch.
6. Black Beans
Black beans (along with other beans) are an under-appreciated superfood. Packed with fiber, protein and important vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium and folate, they offer a lot of bang for your buck (literally!) as one of the least expensive protein options available. “Black beans can be used in a ton of different lunch-time combos,” says Carroll. “Because they’re canned and shelf-stable, they’re easy to keep on hand for a quick meal. Plus with all their digestive-friendly fiber, beans support gut health,” she adds.
The simplest way to use beans is to add them to any salad or grain bowl for a quick protein and fiber boost. If you have some time on the weekends, “make a big batch of black bean soup or chili, then store them in individual grab-and-go containers for lunch throughout the week,” suggests Carroll. Try our slow-cooker vegetarian chili for a hands-off make-ahead lunch or our bean and beef taco soup.
Would it even be an article on healthy foods if we didn’t mention avocado? This fiber and healthy fat-filled fruit bring a ton of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to your lunch. Eating avocado (and the nutrients found in this fruit) may be linked to better cholesterol, weight maintenance and even improved attention.
Use mashed avocado as a spread on sandwiches, or as Carroll recommends, mix it with canned tuna instead of mayonnaise. Add it to salads, tacos, grain bowls, wraps or on top of your black bean soup or chili. And yes it’s still healthy if you make it into guacamole!
Made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, herbs and spices, hummus is packed with good-for-you ingredients linked to many health benefits. Upgrade your wrap or sandwich using hummus instead of mayonnaise or other condiments. It’s also perfect for a “snack lunch,” which Carroll likes to make with tuna salad, whole grain crackers, nuts and fruit.
Or, take it up a notch with our Chicken Hummus Bowls or Lemon-Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowls.
There’s some truth to the old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Eating apples has been linked to numerous health benefits including reduced risk for heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease as well as better gut health—thanks to all the phytonutrients, vitamins and prebiotic fiber they contain. Plus, they are easily portable and require no packaging, making apples a perfect complement to almost any lunch.
While we think they are delicious as-is, they also add great flavor and crunch when sliced and added to a sandwich, grilled cheese or a wild rice salad.