Ways to build a better-for-you menu in 2022

Cuban chicken with salsa fresca
(Family Features)

Committing to healthier habits in the new year often starts in the kitchen. Adding better-for-you recipes is the start of a more nutrition-focused lifestyle, and whether you’re a true home chef or just learning the basics, you might consider these dishes to enhance your homemade meals in 2022.

A fresh take on family dinner

If your family gets stuck in a dinner routine rut, it can feel like you’re eating the same recipes over and over again.

However, this fresh and unique recipe might inspire you to think outside the culinary box and give your family members the satisfactory flavors they desire at dinnertime.

Cuban chicken with salsa fresca

Servings: 5

• 1 cup grapefruit juice

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 teaspoons garlic powder

• 2 teaspoons cumin

• 2 teaspoons paprika

• 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

• 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salsa fresca:

• 1 cup grapefruit segments

• ½ jicama, cubed

• ½ red onion, chopped

• ¾ cup grapefruit juice

• 4 tablespoons olive oil

• ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

• 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix grapefruit juice, oil, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and red pepper until combined. Add chicken to bowl and turn to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer.

To make salsa fresca: In a medium bowl, mix grapefruit segments, jicama, red onion, grapefruit juice, olive oil, cilantro and jalapeno pepper until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove chicken from marinade. Place chicken in a baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Serve chicken with salsa fresca.

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Take your salad from bland to bold

Step aside, boring salads. A new year and a healthier eating plan can include better-for-you greens and dressings that hit the spot.

Vegetables roasted with aromatic spices served on a five-lettuce mix are drizzled with lemon tahini dressing in this salad, a delicious vegetarian way to turn a bland meal into a bona fide delight. With green leaf and red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, romaine and radicchio, the mix of greens offers a bold combination of textures and flavors for those who love variety and color.

Moroccan roasted vegetable salad

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

• Nonstick cooking spray

• 6 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 teaspoons ras el hanout or garam masala

• ½ teaspoon salt

• ¼ teaspoon pepper

• 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into long wedges

• 4 whole large carrots, chopped

• 2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

• 2 packages (6 ounces each) five-lettuce mix

• 1 can (15½ ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

• 1/3 cup dried apricots, sliced

• 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

• 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Lemon tahini dressing:

• ¼ cup tahini

• ¼ cup olive oil

• 3 tablespoons lemon juice

• 3 teaspoons maple syrup

• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 2 tablespoons cold water

Moroccan roasted vegetable salad
Moroccan roasted vegetable salad
(Family Features)

To make lemon tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and salt. Add cold water and mix well. If the dressing thickens, mix in more cold water.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix olive oil, ras el hanout, salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes; toss to coat. Transfer to first prepared baking sheet. Add carrots and peppers to leftover oil; toss to coat. Transfer to second prepared baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Let cool.

Arrange lettuce mix on four plates. Top each with sweet potatoes, carrots, red pepper, chickpeas, apricots and almonds. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with parsley.

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A lean, nutritious lunch

Meal prepping is one of the most common strategies for improving eating habits. However, this tactic is often focused primarily on nutritious breakfasts and family dinners. Don’t let lunch go by the wayside; you can skip the fast-food breaks by opting for a recipe you can make quickly at home.

This wrap provides a simple solution for swapping out saltier foods for a lean lunch. By making four at a time in just a half-hour, lunch is served for most of your work week to help save time on busy mornings while adding vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants to your afternoon meal.

Turkey-potato wrap

• ¾ pound russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

• 1 tablespoon water

• 1 tablespoon canola oil

• ¾ pound ground lean turkey

• 1 large carrot, shredded

• 1/3 cup sliced green onions with tops

• 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

• 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

• 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning or basil

• Salt, to taste

• Pepper, to taste

• 4 large whole-wheat or high-fiber tortillas

• Light sour cream (optional)

Turkey-potato wrap
(Family Features)

Place potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl; sprinkle with water. Cover, venting one corner. Microwave on high five to eight minutes until potatoes are tender.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add and break up turkey; cook five minutes, tossing occasionally. Mix in carrot; cook two minutes. Add potatoes and onions; toss and cook two minutes. Reduce heat to medium; mix in tomato sauce, cheese and Italian seasoning.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for four to five minutes until mixture is hot and most sauce is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Place ¾ cup hot turkey mixture on each; fold and roll for burritos.

Cut in halves. Serve each with sour cream, if desired.

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Eating well when you’re short on time

Committing to a better eating plan doesn’t change the fact that there are times when a hectic schedule calls for a quick solution.

When you need an easy-to-make lunch or dinner, opt for this bowl that takes just five minutes for a satisfying meal.

Loaded smoked salmon rice bowl

Prep time: four minutes

Cook time: one minute

Servings: 1

• 1 cup ready-to-serve brown rice

• 2 ounces smoked salmon

• ½ cup julienned cucumber

• 1 teaspoon soy sauce

• 1 tablespoon bagel seasoning mix

Loaded smoked salmon rice bowl
(Family Features)

Heat rice according to package directions.

Top rice with smoked salmon and cucumbers. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with seasoning mix.

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