Popular Lean and Green Optavia Recipes

The OPTAVIA approach to eating and good health

The OPTAVIA brand offers a health and wellness lifestyle program, introduced by the team at Medifast, a nutrition and weight loss company based in Baltimore. The OPTAVIA diet includes food products, called “Fuelings,” which have the same macronutrient profile as original Medifast products but are made without colors, flavors or sweeteners from artificial sources. By integrating healthy habits, working with its coaches and following OPTAVIA’s nutritional guidelines, Medifast helps you attain a “lifelong transformation, one healthy habit at a time.”

OPTAVIA’s “lean & green” meals

The OPTAVIA eating regimen calls for supplementing their Fuelings products with a “lean & green” meal. Such meals consist of protein, non-starchy veggies and healthy fats. These meals are geared toward keeping you satiated and well-nourished while also helping you learn a healthy habit: cooking for yourself.

These meals “include 5 to 7 ounces of cooked lean protein, plus three servings of non-starchy vegetables and up to two servings of healthy fats,” says Lana Nasrallah, manager of clinical nutrition at UNC Health, a not-for-profit integrated health care system based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It’s owned by the state of North Carolina.

Weight loss approach

The OPTAVIA program promotes weight loss with the incorporation of low-calorie, pre-packaged foods, consuming low-carb homemade meals and participating in one-on-one coaching with independent OPTAVIA coaches. It also provides support from the OPTAVIA community. The OPTAVIA program includes two primary weight loss plans and one weight maintenance plan.

Most of the OPTAVIA plans recommend at least one Lean & Green meal daily. The popular Optimal Weight 5 & 1 plan calls for adults to consume 800 to 1,000 calories daily, including 80 to 100 carbs.

Here are 10 meals fitting the “lean & green” profile that OPTAVIA adherents can enjoy:

1. Avocado, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, shrimp and mixed greens

This dish is delectably fresh, light and balanced, Nasrallah says.

Directions:

Layer the ingredients on a bed of mixed greens, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with lime juice and olive oil and then toss. Top the salad with raw pumpkin seeds for more texture and healthy antioxidants, such as carotenoids, which research suggests can boost your immune system and protect your eye health. These seeds also have vitamin E, which studies suggest protects your cells from free radicals.

Research suggests free radicals may contribute to causing or exacerbating a number of diseases, including:

— Atherosclerosis.

Cancer.

— Degenerative heart disease.

Diabetes.

Heart disease.

2. Beef Stroganoff with broccoli and cauliflower rice

“Beef up your lean and green meals (with) a classic beef Stroganoff,” Nasrallah says.

Directions:

Cut your favorite tender beef cut, like beef tenderloin or sirloin steak, into narrow 2-inch strips and cook in a bullion and low-fat sour cream sauce seasoned with dill weed. “Serve with buttered broccoli and steamed cauliflower rice on the side for a low carbohydrate and high fiber meal. “

3. Celery and tuna sticks

This snack has only 80 calories and provides 20 grams of lean, high-quality protein, says Kaylee Jacks, a sports dietitian with Texas Health Sports Medicine in Dallas.

“It features tuna packed with protein to keep dieters fuller for a longer period and contains valuable vitamins and minerals, such as iron, which supports energy by carrying oxygen to muscles throughout the body,” Jacks says. “Celery has a high water content, which contributes to overall daily fluid intake to support digestion and weight loss.”

The ingredients you’ll need are:

— 1 to 2 full celery sticks, or 10 to 12 chopped 4-inch celery sticks.

— 1 sealed pack of tuna, or 1 can of tuna.

— 3 to 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Directions: Mix the tuna with lemon juice for flavoring. Scoop out the tuna/lemon juice mixture onto each celery stick.

4. Chicken and zucchini noodles with parsley almond pesto

The ingredients you’ll need to make this dish are:

— Almonds.

— Garlic.

Olive oil.

— Parsley.

— Salt.

Directions: In a blender, puree the pesto ingredients until smooth. Mix the parsley pesto with cooked chicken and zucchini noodles, which you can find in the produce section of many grocery stores as well as online. “The secret is to use a lot of parsley,” Nasrallah says. Serve warm with lemon wedges for an extra boost of vitamin C.

5. Farro and mixed berries breakfast bowl

“Farro is a type of wheat with a wonderful nutty flavor and toothsome texture,” Nasrallah says.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

— 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

— 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.

— 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

Directions: Mix up cooked farro with Greek yogurt and frozen berries that have been cooked on the stovetop or defrosted in the microwave. Top the mixture with pistachios and, if you choose, drizzle with honey for sweetness.

This dish contains an array of nutrients, including:

— Magnesium.

— Niacin.

Zinc.

6. Crispy kale and tofu over cauliflower rice

Start by making the dressing for this dish in a small bowl with these ingredients:

— 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

— 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.

— 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

To a large mixing bowl, add half of the dressing and your preferred amount of:

— Unsweetened shredded coconut.

— Chopped kale.

— Cubed tofu.

Directions: Toss these ingredients to coat with the dressing. Transfer the mixture to a sheet pan and bake at chopped kale, cubed tofu and unsweetened shredded coconut and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until browned and crisp. Return the mixture to the mixing bowl with the remaining dressing and gently toss the ingredients together. Serve warm over cauliflower rice.

7. Sheet pan salmon with roast asparagus

When fish is on the dinner menu, nothing could be easier than a sheet-pan meal, Nasrallah says. In just 30 minutes total, you can have a complete dinner ready to serve.

Directions: Start with lining the sheet pan with parchment paper, which will make cleanup a breeze. Place the salmon in the middle of the sheet pan and surround with asparagus spears, brush both the fish and the veggies with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt, minced garlic and chopped parsley. Bake until salmon flakes easily with a fork and the asparagus is tender. This delicious meal is full of healthy fats and protein.

To make this meal greener, add cherry tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinegar mid-way through the cooking time and scatter chopped basil over the sheet pan before serving.

8. Spiced lentils and mushroom with greens

Use these healthy ingredients:

— Cooked brown or green lentils.

Mushrooms.

— Ground coriander.

— Cumin.

— Chopped garlic.

— Olive oil.

— Pepper.

— Salt.

Directions: In a saucepan with water, combine cooked green or brown lentils with sliced mushrooms sautéed with olive oil, chopped garlic, ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle the lentils into bowls with garlic and parsley; then it’s ready to serve.

Eat these stew-like lentils as a lunch or dinner and serve along your favorite cooked leafy green, Nasrallah suggests.

Leafy greens you could serve with this dish include:

— Collard greens.

— Kale.

— Swiss chard.

— Turnip greens.

Lentils are packed with protein, very filling and a good source of iron. For extra protein, serve with an egg, poached or over easy.

9. Zucchini noodles with lean ground meatballs

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make four servings of this dish:

— 3 to 4 zucchinis.

— 1 pound of 99% lean ground turkey meatballs.

— 1 cup of Rao’s Homemade Sauce (or any other tomato sauce of your choice).

— 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Directions: Use a spiralizer, julienne peeler, mandoline, knife or a regular vegetable peeler to make noodles from each zucchini. Lightly brush a skillet with olive oil, add the zucchini noodles and heat until warm. Heat turkey meatballs to the noodles and top with Rao’s Homemade Sauce.

“This dish is a good option for dieters because it is low in calories and high in protein,” Jacks says.

Lean proteins are vital for an array of body functions, including:

— Energy.

Hormone function.

Muscle recovery.

10. Quinoa and cannellini bowl with vegetables and tahini

In a large skillet, cook sliced onions until translucent then add:

— Swissh chard.

— Yellow squash.

— Sliced zucchini.

Directions: Cook until tender and season with salt. In a small bowl, prepare a dressing by mixing tahini with lemon juice, and water until runny.

“Add in lean flavor by mixing chopped garlic and parsley to the dressing,” Nasrallah says. Layer the cooked vegetables in a serving bowl over a mixture of cooked quinoa and cannellini beans. Serve with the tahini dressing for zest and bonus antioxidants.

10 lean and green meals people on the OPTAVIA diet can enjoy:

— Avocado, cilantro, grapefruit, pumpkin seeds, shrimp and mixed greens.

— Stroganoff beef with broccoli and cauliflower rice.

— Celery and tuna sticks.

— Chicken and zucchini noodles with parsley almond pesto.

— Farro and mixed berries breakfast bowl.

— Crispy kale and tofu over cauliflower rice.

— Sheet pan salmon with roast asparagus.

— Spiced lentils and mushrooms with greens.

— Zucchini noodles with lean ground meatballs.

— Quinoa and cannellini bowl with vegetables and tahini.

More from U.S. News

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12 Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

10 Tips for Starting a More Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Diet

Popular Lean and Green Optavia Recipes originally appeared on usnews.com

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