The 14 Best Weight-Loss Recipes You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less
Vegan, pescatarian, omnivore—there's a great weight-loss recipe for every type of eater here—and they can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Thai steak salad
Steak lovers rejoiced in 2015 when research in the International Journal of Obesity proclaimed the high-protein diet was the winner of weight-loss diets. The conclusion: Increasing your protein, decreasing your carbs slightly, and focusing on getting higher-quality carbohydrates like whole grains and produce helps you lose weight and keep it off. That’s where this fresh-tasting weight-loss recipe for Thai steak salad by celebrity Food Network chef Ellie Krieger comes in. It’s brightly flavored with lime juice, ginger, basil, and cilantro, and once the meat is marinated, it comes together in just half an hour. Learn 12 more diet secrets of people who maintained their weight loss.
Red beans and coconut rice
Forget complicated, expensive diet plans (which don’t work anyway) and just focus on fiber, suggests a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015. The findings indicate that making just one dietary change—setting a goal of eating 30 grams of fiber each day—can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and improve your body’s response to insulin. As a shortcut, make a meal of rice and beans, which provides a bowl full of plant-based protein (20 to 25 grams) and fiber (about 15 grams). Beans and rice don’t have to be boring! Make this simply delicious 30-minute island-inspired coconut rice and beans recipe from Epicurious, using light coconut milk. Don’t miss these other 10 high-fiber recipes that help you lose weight.
Green tea smoothie
You know that green tea is good for you because of all its antioxidants, but the combo of caffeine and the free-radical-fighting catechin EGCG in green tea may help people lose weight, according to a meta-analysis of 11 studies published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2009. While more recent analyses are mixed and suggest that any weight loss resulting from green tea would be minimal, anyone who wants to shed some pounds knows that every little bit counts. If you’re looking for a cool alternative to straight-up green tea, try this creamy low-carb green tea smoothie made with matcha from Better by Design Nutrition.
Red lentil soup
Eating soup is one of the simplest, most pain-free ways to drop a size and shed belly fat. One study published in the journal Appetite in 2007 found that people who ate soup before consuming a lunch entrée ended up downing 20 percent fewer calories overall than people who skipped soup. Adding vegetables and protein to your soup also helps keep you fuller longer, so you’ll be less hungry later on. This weight-loss recipe for red lentil soup from Kitchn has a whopping 12.5 grams of protein per serving and is ready in 25 minutes. Sauté a teaspoon or two of fresh, grated ginger with the onion and add a pinch of cayenne for an extra flavor boost. On your next trip to the grocery store, make sure to pick up these protein-filled diet foods for weight loss.
Dzunk it, dzrizzle it, szlather it—no matter what you do with Greek tzatziki, it tastes wonderful. Made of just Greek yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and seasonings, this special sauce can transform grilled fish and meat, simple crudités, or a veggie- and lentil-filled pita into an amazing meal. We love this tzatziki recipe with lemon zest and dill from the Food Network. Plus, yogurt can be a key ingredient to any successful diet, suggests a review of research published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2015. Scientists found that yogurt consumption was associated with a lower body mass index, lower body weight, less weight gain, a trimmer waist, and lower body fat. While many experts point to the yogurt’s generous amount of protein (about 18 grams per serving) for helping you feel full and satisfied, the active cultures also could help shed body fat by correcting your gut bacteria. Find out how to pick the best probiotics for weight loss.
Farmers’ market quinoa salad
How do I love thee, quinoa? Let me count the ways: One, you have almost twice the protein of brown rice; two, your chewy texture and nutty flavor make everything else in the bowl taste better; and three, all that protein and fiber, along with complex carbs and a small dose of healthy fats, keep my blood sugar steady. Better yet, you cook faster than a pot of rice—quinoa is ready in about 15 minutes. For a quick weight-loss recipe, throw together this farmers’ market quinoa salad from Epicurious, which also features green beans, snap peas, broccoli, and pistachios in a Dijon dressing.
Super seedy granola bars
The itsy-bitsy super seeds chia and flax are nutritional powerhouses. They both have omega-3 (particularly alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, fiber, flavonoids, and a host of vitamins and minerals—not to mention great flavor and crunch. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, research suggests that chia seeds can increase a sense of fullness while reducing appetite, as well as have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. And what better way to enjoy them than combined with dates, sunflower and hemp seeds, and nuts for the ultimate homemade granola bar? Check out these easy super seedy granola bars from Minimalist Baker. And don’t miss these other ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.
Fried cauliflower rice
Boosting your intake of fiber-rich food, including vegetables, is one of the smartest ways to lose weight, according to a review of research published in the Lancet in 2019. Plus, it will help you live longer. To incorporate more fiber into your diet, try making an easy Chinese stir-fried vegetable rice using prepared (or homemade) cauliflower rice as the base. We’re crazy about this flexible-ingredient 15-minute fried cauliflower rice recipe from Pinch of Yum, which has eggs and tofu for protein (you can also opt for white beans or chickpeas if you don’t eat eggs or soy). Follow the weight-loss recipe verbatim, or add seasonal vegetables and herbs you already have in the crisper. Find out the 15 ingredients doctors always add to their meals.
Yogurt-marinated chicken kebabs
Pure protein marinated in a spicy yogurt sauce to keep it tender and juicy is what weight-loss dreams are made of. Skewering lean chicken or steak tenders is a great way to prepare healthy food fast. This recipe for spicy chicken kebabs from cookbook author Steven Raichland on Bon Appétit‘s website calls for an overnight marinade, but your hands-on time is only about 15 minutes. With mouthwatering weight-loss recipes like this, you’ll forget you’re on a diet. Learn 19 tips a weight-loss coach won’t tell you for free.
One thing French women know is how to make the perfect diet plate. Take Nicoise salad: a couple of cans of tuna (in olive oil is best), hard-cooked eggs, steamed green beans, tomatoes, and olives, dressed with vinaigrette. It’s heaven on a plate that just happens to be loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. To serve the salad chilled, prep it early or the day before. Martha Stewart makes a mean Nicoise salad you’ll want to make again and again. Note: Your best choice for seafood is chunk light tuna, which comes from the smaller skipjack or yellowfin and has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
No-bake vegan chocolate tart
Chocolate lovers, let go of your guilt: Unsweetened cocoa powder has about two grams of fiber per tablespoon, plus iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Cocoa also has a high flavonoid content, so it can potentially lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, per a review of research published in Frontiers in Nutrition in 2017. If you’re craving chocolate, go ahead and add some cocoa powder to your protein shake. Or if a little just won’t do, try this deep, dark raw vegan chocolate tart from Food52, whipped up with cocoa, avocados, and coconut oil. Learn 12 little weight-loss tricks only nutritionists know.
Cauliflower and kale frittata
This low-cal cauliflower and kale frittata recipe from EatingWell takes just 20 minutes to make and packs a one-two punch of protein and fiber that will keep you satisfied and energized all day. Inspired by a traditional Spanish tortilla (typically studded with starchy potatoes), this healthier frittata swaps in low-carb cauliflower. As a result, you’re getting just 300 calories for a large wedge. Serve it with a crisp arugula and radish salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Ready-to-eat berry parfait
Healthy food that’s quick and convenient means you’re more likely to eat it and stay on a sensible diet plan (as opposed to diving into the box of doughnuts in the break room). For a nutrient-rich snack or lunch, simply layer sliced berries of your choice with thick Greek yogurt and a small amount of maple syrup (or your preferred natural sweetener) in a Mason jar. (Plant-based yogurts are an option if you don’t eat dairy and look for brands made with pea protein if you want to up your protein intake.) Then grab and go! Don’t miss these 12 healthy breakfast ideas that are great for any weight-loss plan.
Savory vegetable smoothie
Who says all smoothies have to be sweet? A savory one is not only delicious but also filling when you add power nutrients and fiber. This spicy vegan vegetable smoothie from the Blender Girl is packed with vegetables (carrot, cucumber, tomato, avocado, and romaine lettuce), coconut water, olive oil, and sea salt. For more ideas, check out these other 16 healthy weight-loss recipes that aren’t salad.
- International Journal of Obesity: "The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbidities."
- FoodNetwork.com: "Grilled Thai Beef Salad."
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Trial."
- Epicurious.com: "West Indian Rice and Beans."
- International Journal of Obesity: "The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis."
- Canadian Pharmacists Journal: "Can green tea preparations help with weight loss?"
- BBDNutrition.com: "Low Carb Green Tea Matcha Smoothie."
- Appetite: "Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake."
- TheKitchn.com: "Recipe: Red Lentil Soup."
- FoodNetwork.com: "Easy Tzatziki."
- International Journal of Obesity: "Is consuming yoghurt associated with weight management outcomes? Results from a systematic review."
- Journal of Cereal Science: "Nutritional and health beneﬁts of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd)."
- Epicurious.com: "Farmers' Market Quinoa Salad."
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Chia Seeds"
- MinimalistBaker.com: "Super Seedy Granola Bars."
- The Lancet: "Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses."
- PinchofYum.com: "15-minute cauliflower fried rice."
- BonAppetit.com: "Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Aleppo Pepper."
- MarthaStewart.com: "Nicoise Salad."
- Environmental Defense Fund: "Mercury alert: Is canned tuna safe?"
- Frontiers in Nutrition: "Cocoa, Blood Pressure, and Vascular Function."
- Food52.com: "Raw Avocado Chocolate Tart."
- EatingWell.com: "Cauliflower & Kale Frittata."
- TheBlenderGirl.com: "Spicy Avocado Carrot Tomato Smoothie."