Recipes: Main Meals

The home-cooked recipes below are simple, nutritious, and delicious. They will give you the confidence and motivation to prepare fresh meals on your own. These suggestions are just a starting point - experiment with vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and sauces to satisfy your taste buds.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice

This meal is quick, healthy, and great for leftovers. You can save time and make the rice in advance – cooked rice lasts up to 5-7 days if stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Brown rice has more fiber and nutrients than white rice, and chicken breasts are a lean protein. Get creative with vegetables or make this a vegetarian dish by replacing the chicken with tofu.

  • Total time: 30-40 minutes
  • Servings: 2
  • Serving size: 1.5 cups stir fry mixture, 2/3 cup rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts (~1 lb), boneless and skinless, diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup apricot or marmalade jam/preserves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
  • 1/2 large broccoli head, chopped into small florets
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas, frozen
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

  1. In a medium pot over high heat, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice to a boil. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low/simmer for about 40 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  2. While the rice is cooking, cut the vegetables and chicken accordingly.
  3. In a large pan or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat, and add the chicken; cook for 4-6 minutes or until nearly cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the heat and set aside in a bowl, leaving the juices behind in the pan.
  5. Add the vegetables and cook for 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the jam/preserves, water, soy sauce, and garlic powder.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan and add the sauce; cook for another 4 minutes stirring occasionally or until the mixture is warmed through.
  8. Serve over brown rice.

Lemon Herb Chicken with Couscous

This is a simple, fast, and nutritious lean protein dish. The lemon herb marinade adds the perfect flavor. Couscous is made from crushed semolina wheat, the same ingredient used to make pasta. It is a versatile grain that makes an excellent side dish for chicken, fish, and tofu. This recipe calls for broccoli, but any vegetable like zucchini, asparagus, or cauliflower will be just as delicious. Add frozen vegetables like peas and carrots to the couscous for additional nutrients and flavor.

  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 2
  • Serving size: 1 piece chicken (4-6 oz), 1/2 cup couscous, 3/4 cup broccoli

Ingredients

  • 1-2 chicken breasts (~1 lb), boneless and skinless
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 medium broccoli head, cut into small florets
  • 1.5 cups water (divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, defrosted
  • 1 teaspoon original seasoning blend (ex. Mrs. Dash)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken into two thin slices, lengthwise.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning.
  3. In a baking dish, add 1 tablespoon of marinade to the bottom of the dish.
  4. Add chicken to the dish and cover each piece equally with the remaining marinade.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until cooked through (or until internal temperature is 165°F).
  6. While the chicken is cooking, start the broccoli.
  7. In a medium pan on high heat, add the broccoli and 1/2 cup water (or enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, without fully covering the broccoli). Cover and cook until water starts to boil.
  8. Reduce heat to low, cover, and steam broccoli for 2-3 minutes.
  9. For the couscous, add 1 cup of water to a saucepan/pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  10. Add couscous, stir, and remove immediately from heat; let stand for 5 minutes; add vegetables and seasonings as desired.
  11. Serve chicken on top of couscous with the side of broccoli.

Chicken Tacos with Creamy Cucumber Salad

Easy, quick and healthy. Get creative and add some pico de gallo, hot sauce, cilantro, or lime juice. The creamy cucumber salad adds a refreshing bite for people that like their tacos with some extra spice.

  • Total time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 2
  • Serving size: 3 tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 cup tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup lettuce or cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup homemade salsa or salsa of choice
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (divided into 1/4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dill, dried (or 1/4 cup fresh)
  • 6 soft corn tortillas

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the seasonings and mix.
  2. Cut the chicken into small pieces/dices.
  3. Add the chicken to the seasonings and mix.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet/pan over medium high heat and add the chicken; cook 4-6 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally, adding the tomato after 2 minutes of cooking.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, start the salad.
  6. Mix 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dill, then add the cucumber.
  7. Warm the corn tortillas in the microwave for 10-20 seconds or in the oven for 2-3 minutes on 350°F.
  8. Once the chicken is done, divide the mixture evenly between the tortillas, and top with yogurt, salsa, and lettuce, and serve with the cucumber salad.

Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

You still get your burger fix with this delicious, yet healthy alternative to a classic burger and fries. You can use lean or extra lean ground turkey or chicken, and get creative with toppings – grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, or pineapple, tomato, jalapenos, relish, and different cheeses.

  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 2-4
  • Serving size: 1-2 burgers (4 oz each) and 1/2 cup sweet potato fries

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce package 93% lean ground turkey (or 99% extra lean)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 whole wheat buns
  • Cooking spray
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Grilled onions (optional)
  • Other optional toppings: lettuce, tomato, mustard, relish, ketchup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil and spread olive oil on foil.
  3. Peel and cut one large sweet potato into thin sticks (about 1/4 inch thick).
  4. Toss sweet potato fries in olive oil, then evenly arrange in a single layer in a pan/baking sheet; bake for 25 minutes (if potatoes start unevenly browning, turn the potatoes a few times during cooking).
  5. While the fries are cooking, in a large bowl, mix the turkey, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  6. Spray a large skillet/pan with cooking spray and preheat pan on medium heat.
  7. Form four turkey patties and place into pan; cook on each side for 5-6 min.
  8. Add any cheese during the last 2 minutes and cover the pan so cheese melts faster.
  9. Serve burger on a toasted whole wheat bun with any additional toppings with a side of sweet potato fries (salt and pepper to taste).

BBQ Chicken with Mashed Cauliflower

Baking the chicken in barbecue sauce will preserve the chicken’s tenderness and add a sweet flavor. Cauliflower is a low carbohydrate substitute for potatoes or rice. Add a whole wheat dinner roll for additional carbohydrates. A blender, food processor, or potato masher can be used to purée the cauliflower.

  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 2
  • Serving size: 2 chicken thighs, 1/2 cup cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (low sodium preferred, see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cauliflower head, washed and chopped into medium pieces
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place the chicken thighs on top.
  3. Evenly divide the barbecue sauce between the chicken thighs.
  4. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, start the cauliflower.
  6. In a large, covered skillet/pan over high heat, bring the cauliflower and 1/2 cup water to a boil.
  7. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low; cook for another 10 minutes covered or until cauliflower is very soft, then turn off heat.
  8. In a large bowl, add the cauliflower, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley, and mash until smooth (If using a blender, add all ingredients directly into blender).
  9. Serve chicken thighs on top of cauliflower and drizzle with remaining barbecue sauce.

Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, (no salt added)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients.
  2. Heat over medium heat until the sauce simmers. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until the sauce has been reduced by half (down to about 1.5 cups).

Salmon with Roasted Cauliflower

Salmon is very simple to cook at home, pairing well with any vegetable and grain. This recipe uses cauliflower, but you can roast any vegetable like broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, or carrots. Season the brown rice with a little pepper or seasoning blend for extra flavor. You can save time and make the rice in advance – cooked rice lasts up to 5-7 days if stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can also make rice in the microwave; follow the ingredients on the package.

  • Total time: 30-40 minutes
  • Servings: 3
  • Serving size: 5 oz salmon, 1/2 cup cauliflower, 2/3 cup rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cauliflower head, washed and chopped into medium pieces
  • 16 ounces salmon, whole
  • 1 teaspoon original seasoning blend (ex. Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium pot over high heat, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice to a boil. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low/simmer for about 40 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  2. While the rice is cooking, preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Spray a large baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and add cauliflower to pan.
  4. Spray the cauliflower with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 20 min.
  5. In a second baking pan, season the salmon as desired (this recipe uses Mrs. Dash Original Seasoning Blend) and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Top the whole salmon with lemon juice for added flavor.
  7. Cut salmon into three smaller filets, crosswise and serve with cauliflower and rice.

Tip: save clean-up time by lining the pans with tin foil

Note: Good rule of thumb is to cook salmon for 4-6 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness. Salmon is done when internal temperature is 145°F or the inside is pink and flakes with a fork.

Vegetable Frittata with Roasted Potatoes

Switch things up and have breakfast for dinner! Frittatas are Italian egg dishes similar to an omelet, with added meats, vegetables and cheeses, and then baked. Get creative and use a variety of vegetables like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and asparagus. This recipe uses parmesan cheese, but you can also use cheddar or pepper jack. The potatoes are lightly covered in olive oil to give them just enough crunch.

  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 frittata (about 1.5 cups) and 1/2 cup potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 whole large potatoes, red or russet (skin on)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided into 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 medium broccoli head, chopped into small florets
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1/2 tomato, diced)
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. Wash the potatoes and cut a slit lengthwise into each one; microwave for 4 minutes and let cool.
  4. Once cooled, dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil and desired seasonings.
  6. Bake potatoes for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
  7. In a large pan/skillet with 2 tbsp olive oil, sauté the broccoli and spinach on medium heat for 4 minutes, then cover and set aside.
  8. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites until completely blended; add the broccoli, spinach, tomato, and cheese and mix.
  9. Transfer the mixture to a medium baking dish and bake frittata for 20-25 minutes or until the egg is no longer liquid and the top starts to brown.
  10. Top with hot sauce, salsa or ketchup; slice and serve with roasted potatoes.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla

Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, specifically vitamin A, and the beans are full of fiber and protein. These quesadillas make a satisfying meal or snack any time of day. Add even more flavor with the homemade salsa recipe. Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry!

  • Total time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 5
  • Serving size: 1 quesadilla

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (low sodium preferred)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 3/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 5 medium whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/4 cup homemade salsa (see separate recipe)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream/Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut a lengthwise slit in the sweet potato and microwave for 6-8 minutes, or until completely soft.
  2. Scoop the flesh into a large bowl.
  3. Add the black beans, cilantro, chili powder, garlic and red pepper flakes, and mix well.
  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sweet potato mixture on one side of the tortilla.
  5. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cheese on top and fold in half.
  6. Place the quesadilla in a pan or skillet and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes; cut in half.
  7. Serve with desired topics like salsa or sour cream (or Greek yogurt).

Buddha Bowl

Buddha bowls are a quick and easy plant-based meal! Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry! The combination of rice and beans form a complete protein. Follow #buddhabowlrecipes on social media to find many creative ways to build your own buddha bowl.

  • Total time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 3
  • Serving size: 1 bowl = 1 cup rice and beans, 1 cup vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 cups, instant brown rice, cooked (or any kind of rice)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or any beans, low sodium preferred)
  • 3 cups mixed vegetables, chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the rice and beans.
  2. Heat mixed vegetables on the stove for 5 minutes in a pan/skillet or microwave for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Top rice and beans with cooked vegetables and enjoy!

Mixed Vegetable Casserole

This dish is perfect when you’re in a hurry! Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry! Simply put all the ingredients in a dish and press start on your microwave. Within 10 minutes, you have a meal that is packed with vitamins from the vegetables, fiber and protein from the beans, and calcium from the cheese. Enjoy this casserole as is or with a whole wheat dinner roll.

  • Total time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 3
  • Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 can mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed (low sodium preferred)
  • 1 can green beans, drained and rinsed (low sodium preferred)
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (low sodium preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 roll crackers of your choice (about 20 crackers), crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large microwave safe dish, combine the mixed vegetables, green beans, pinto beans, and onion powder; top with mozzarella cheese and crumbled crackers.
  2. Microwave for 10 minutes on high or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  3. Serve hot and add salt and pepper to taste.

Southwestern Pasta

Very easy, delicious, and makes a large batch for leftovers. The recipe uses southwestern-inspired seasonings and ingredients to create a satisfying meal. Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry! This recipe uses penne pasta, but you can use any pasta you want.

  • Total time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 5
  • Serving size: 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked pasta
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce or pasta sauce
  • 3/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix cooked pasta, black beans, corn, and broccoli.
  2. Add the sauce and cheese. Mix well once again.
  3. Heat on the stove for 5 min to melt cheese, or microwave for 1-2 min with 1 tbsp of water to maintain the moisture.

Italian Pasta with Red Peppers

This sauce-less pasta is simple and satisfying! Whole wheat pasta adds more fiber than white pasta, making it a more filling, nutritious dish. This recipe uses roasted peppers and spinach, but you can use any vegetables. For additional protein, add grilled chicken or tofu.

  • Total time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 4
  • Serving size: 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers (canned or fresh)
  • 1 small tomato, diced (or cherry tomatoes, halved)
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove, minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups cooked whole wheat pasta of choice
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (optional topping)

Directions

  1. In a skillet/pan warm olive oil on high heat, then sauté peppers, tomatoes, and spinach for 5 minutes; sprinkle on garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, peppers, tomato and spinach and top with mozzarella cheese.

Tuna Mac and Cheese

This macaroni and cheese recipe is versatile and includes many of the necessary macro and micronutrients. Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry! This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious after a long day at school or work. Get creative with vegetables like peas, carrots, or zucchini.

  • Total time: 10 minutes
  • Servings: 5
  • Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 box macaroni and cheese
  • 1 5-ounce can tuna, drained
  • 1 cup peas, frozen or canned
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped, frozen or fresh

Directions

  1. To cook the pasta, follow the instructions on the box.
  2. While pasta is cooking, defrost the peas and broccoli if needed (microwave for 1 minute).
  3. When pasta is done, drain in a colander, return to pot and mix in the cheese.
  4. Add tuna, peas and broccoli, and mix until incorporated; serve warm.

Tuna Potato Cakes

These tuna cake patties are easy to make and taste delicious! Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry! Tuna is an excellent lean protein that is ready to eat, so you’re only cooking the cakes long enough for the egg. The potato helps hold the cakes together and adds a nice texture.

  • Total time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 3
  • Serving size: 2 cakes

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large potato
  • 1/4 red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 head green leaf lettuce

Directions

  1. Wash the potato and cut a slit lengthwise; microwave for 4-5 minutes or until fork tender; let cool and dice into small cubes.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, use nonstick cooking spray and sauté the onions and potatoes for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the tuna, egg, potatoes, onions, lemon juice, and garlic powder and mix until combined; form golf-ball size patties and flatten to 1/2 inch thickness.
  4. In a pan over medium heat, use nonstick cooking spray (or 1 tbsp olive oil) and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  5. Top with a mixture of ketchup and Greek yogurt, and serve on a bed of lettuce.

Tuna Salad with Mixed Vegetables

There are many ways to make a tuna salad, but this is a healthy version using Italian dressing. Plus, most ingredients are found at the UNLV Food Pantry! Serve with crackers, on a bed of salad greens, or in a whole wheat wrap.

  • Total time: 10 minutes
  • Servings: 4
  • Serving size: 1.5 cup

Ingredients

  • 3 5-ounce cans tuna, drained
  • 1 can mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together.
  2. Serve with crackers, pita bread, sandwich or salad.