10 Easy And Healthy Recipes For Beginner Chefs
After a daunting week of studying and class, it can be so hard to motivate yourself to cook a healthy meal. For me, being thrown into the world of cooking was so confusing and at times trial and error. The temptation to order in after a long day is real, but cooking at home will save you endless amounts of money!
1. Sweet Potato Kale Bowl
Making bowls packed with nutrient-dense ingredients is the perfect way to assimilate yourself into the routine of cooking. This sweet potato kale bowl is easy and light, great to pre-pack before class or work! It consists of sweet potato, kale, quinoa, bell pepper, and edamame. Prepare your quinoa and use it as the base of your bowl, then gently massage your kale with a dressing of choice and place it on top of the quinoa. Roast your sweet potato with olive oil and season to your preference before laying them on top of your bases. Prepare and add your vegetables to the mix and drizzle with dressing, olive oil, or tahini!
2. 10-Minute Peanut Noodles
This vegan recipe will make the most of what you have leftover in your pantry. This recipe tastes best with rice noodles, but whatever you have available will work. Prepare your noodles and set them aside to make your sauce. The sauce consists of simple ingredients, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, and minced garlic. Once you have your sauce combined, mix with your noodles and top with sesame seeds for a delicious dish perfect for lunch.
3. Salmon Avocado Toast
Salmon has become my newest obsession, with so many ways to prepare it this bagel-inspired toast is just one of them. To begin, I toast sourdough bread and dress it with either goat cheese or cream cheese. Depending on your preference, layer tomato, red onion, and avocado before adding smoked salmon to the top. Season with salt and pepper to instantly have an easy recipe perfect for beginners.
4. Italian Chopped Brussels Sprouts
Getting comfortable cooking with vegetables takes time, in my experience the best way to get acquainted with adding vegetables to your dishes is to get creative. This Italian-inspired mix is a hassle-free way to incorporate brussels sprouts into your diet. Think of your favorite deli Italian salad, but from the comfort of your kitchen! You will need shaved brussels sprouts, tomatoes, provolone cheese, olives, salami or ham, red onion, and pepperoncini to begin. Feel free to add or remove ingredients based on your preference, for the dressing I like to add a simple mixture of oil and red wine vinegar.
5. Bell Pepper Nachos
This recipe is the perfect healthy twist on a classic! Using bell peppers instead of chips adds a unique and flavorful kick to your regular nachos. I love prepping these to snack on after a long night, the bell peppers don’t get soggy like regular tortilla chips. I use roughly 4-5 bell peppers per portion, I find that red and green bell peppers add the best flavor. Before adding to the oven I top with a dash of olive oil, cheese, and jalapenos. After baking until the bell peppers are roasted top with your favorite nacho toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, and pico de Gallo!
6. Banana Chocolate Baked Oatmeal Bars
I don’t know about you, but I am in love with chocolate chip banana bread. So in love, that I started making these banana chocolate chip oatmeal bars. With oatmeal as a substitute, this snack becomes a great source of energy for a long day. This recipe can be easily adapted to fit vegan and gluten-free diets as well! You will need peanut butter, agave or honey, two bananas, oats, your milk of choice, and chocolate chips. Mash your bananas, and mix the rest of your ingredients into the banana mash. Once mixed together, spread in a baking sheet and cook for roughly 30 minutes. After that, you are welcome to snack on them now or freeze them for a later time!
7. Cauliflower Wings
Delicious and crispy cauliflower wings have become one of my favorite appetizer orders. When I discovered I could make them at home, I can now get my fix whenever I want. Once you try this recipe you will be addicted to the beginner-friendly and flavorful snack. Like regular wings, you will need to prep your batter before baking. Mix roughly a quarter cup of your favorite milk with seasonings and a dash of vinegar. Use your preferred flour and season to your liking to create a crunchy outside layer. Dip cauliflower florets into the wet batter before coating them in the flour mixture. Bake until golden brown and toss in buffalo sauce or experiment with different flavors. This recipe will be the biggest hit at your next tailgate or party!
8. Pasta Inspired Spaghetti Squash
Don’t get me wrong- pasta is amazing and cannot be replaced. With that being said, spaghetti squash can be a fresh alternative to your go-to pasta dish. Spaghetti squash may look like nothing special but once roasted you are able to shred the inside to look like spaghetti noodles. I highly recommend using this noodle-like squash to make a lasagna-style dish. To make this, cut your squash in half and drizzle in olive oil before baking for 10-15 minutes. Once tender, use a fork to remove the squash inside and add to a bowl. Mix the squash, ricotta, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Alternate between layers of marinara sauce and your squash mixture before baking until bubbly and golden brown!
9. Coconut Chickpea Curry
Curry can be an easy way to experiment with different flavors when you are new to cooking. You don’t have to experiment if you aren’t comfortable as the flavor will be perfect the way it is. Chickpeas provide an excellent source of protein and vitamins that will keep you feeling full and satisfied. This chickpea curry only uses a can of crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, spices, onion, garam masala, and of course-chickpeas. Using just one pot, heat up oil and your base of tomatoes and onions. Once heated and fragrant, incorporate your chickpeas and spices. Allow your mixture to simmer and combine together for about 15 minutes before adding coconut milk. Just like that, you have an easy and healthy recipe that will impress your friends!
10. Zucchini Boats
Zucchini is seriously one of the easiest vegetables to cook with! It has basically no prep time and picks up the flavor of whatever dish you add it to. Making zucchini boats is a classic recipe you seriously can’t mess up no matter how much experience in the kitchen you have. Begin by digging out the insides of your zucchini and drizzling in olive oil. Roast your zucchini for about 10 minutes while you make your filling. This recipe can use any filling, I like to use quinoa or brown rice with tomato sauce and ground turkey. I have also filled mine with chicken, spinach, artichoke, and cream cheese. This healthy recipe is affordable and effortless without compromising taste!
11. Practice With What You Have!
As a fellow beginner chef, I have purchased countless groceries trying to follow recipes and ruined them. Cooking healthy recipes does not mean you have to re-stock your whole refrigerator! Try swapping out ingredients in the recipes above to fit what you have available, and keep practicing. What’s your go-to healthy recipe? Comment below!