Weekends are a great time to let loose with friends and good food, but between midnight munchies and boozy brunches, it’s dangerously easy to let “everything in moderation” fly out the window. By the time Sunday evening rolls around, all the desserts, greasy bar food, and alcohol can add up to a feeling we can only describe as “blah.”
The good news is with a bit of commitment and planning, you can easily return to your regularly scheduled healthy eating habits—no drastic juice cleanse necessary. Check out our 21 suggestions for light (we’re interpreting “light” as going easy on the heavy starches while packing in produce and lean protein) breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to get you back on track.
1. Grapefruit Breakfast Smoothie Bowl
Grapefruit was once the poster child for weight loss. While its waist-shrinking abilities are questionable, what we know for sure is that it keeps this fruity smoothie from being too sweet. Chug this the morning after a crazy night out, and you’re sure to get some of your energy back.
2. Green Chia Pudding
Take a regular spinach smoothie to the next level by combining it with chia seeds. It’ll go from smoothie to pudding overnight, and the seeds will provide some essential fatty acids and protein to make the meal more well-rounded.
3. Tropical Yogurt Parfait
Layers of fresh pineapple and plain yogurt (slightly sweetened) form the base of this chilled recipe, while macadamia nuts add even more tropical flair. The lemon zest on top is an extra bit of refreshing zing. It’s light and tastes like an island vacation.
4. Zucchini Oatless Oatmeal
Oatmeal is incredibly healthy, but it can sit like a rock in your stomach—not exactly ideal when you’re looking to lighten things up. This recipe somehow yields a bowl that tastes just like oats, despite being made with egg whites and applesauce. Grated zucchini adds volume, but since 95 percent of the veggie is water, it won’t leave you feeling weighed down.
5. Healthy 2-Ingredient Pancakes
Keeping breakfast light doesn’t have to mean skipping out on pancakes. With just two ingredients (none of which are flour or dairy), a stack of these with a drizzle of real maple syrup will hit the spot without setting you up for a carb-induced crash.
6. Arugula, Asparagus, and Avocado Breakfast Salad
Getting in more veggies is a great way to keep things light without even realizing it, and first thing in the morning is a good time to start. This salad features just bit of egg and avocado to keep you full, but it’s all served on a large bed of greens and asparagus so you can still feel like you’re eating a big breakfast.
7. Spinach and Mushroom Egg White Frittata
While we don’t think egg yolk is bad for you, the standard frittata packs in at least two or three per serving. If you’re trying to eat a bit lighter, go with this whites-only version. A sprinkle of Parmesan and tons of veggies mean you won’t even notice it’s yolk free.
8. 5-Minute Detox Salad With No-Mix Dressing
With everything from kale and avocado to a lemony tahini dressing, this is the quintessential healthy salad. Best of all, it takes just five minutes to put together, so even if you’re nursing a hangover, you can handle this.
9. Mango Bell Pepper Rice Paper Rolls With Cilantro Dipping Sauce
When you’re eating light, appetizers can pass as main meals. These are so much more fun than a salad, and they’re also much easier to make than you’d think—no cooking required.
10. Veggie “Sushi” Rolls
Sushi is a sneaky source of carbs (you’d be surprised at how much rice can fit into those little rolls). On days you’re eating particularly light, swap out the grains for raw veggies and mashed avocado. The secret sauce packs in so much flavor, you won’t miss the rice at all.
11. Balsamic Chicken Salad With Avocado, Feta, and Blackberry
If “light meal” had a dictionary definition, it would probably be a grilled chicken salad. But don’t worry, this one manages to fit in blackberries and feta alongside avocado and pecans, so it’s far from cliché.
12. 3-Ingredient Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad
Greek yogurt instead of mayo already significantly lightens up this tuna salad, but if you want to take it a step further, don’t use the mixture as a sandwich filling. Instead, tuck it into lettuce wraps, stuff it into hollowed tomatoes, or scoop it up with raw veggie sticks.
13. Pea and Spinach Minty Detox Soup
The light green color of this soup should be enough of a giveaway that it’s full of good-for-you ingredients. Packed with spinach and peas and spruced up with mint and spices, it doesn’t disappoint in terms of flavor or nutrition.
14. One-Pan Herb-Roasted Arctic Char With Asparagus and Tomatoes
There’s a reason grilled fish plus veggies is a pretty standard light dinner—it’s nutritious, easy, and tasty. But this recipe adds a little something extra: an avocado basil sauce. It takes all of one minute to throw together, but it totally elevates the entire dish.
15. Cauliflower Fried Rice
Just like zucchini can be a great substitute for noodles, cauliflower is quickly becoming rice’s No. 1 understudy. Sautéed here with plenty of other veggies, just a touch of sesame oil, and eggs for some protein, it becomes a much lighter version of Chinese fried rice.
16. Zucchini Noodle Pho
Spiralized zucchini can be a real lifesaver when you’re trying to eat a little lighter. Soaked in the fragrant broth that pho is famous for, the zoodles will make you feel like you’re eating a big bowl of carbs, when really, there isn’t a single pasta noodle in sight.
17. Chickpea Chard With Roasted Carrots
When it comes to making meals less heavy but not bland, herbs and spices play a huge role. This recipe is a great example. Coriander, cumin, and cinnamon season the chickpeas and chard, adding so much flavor you’ll forget this dish is free of gluten, grains, and meat.
18. Grilled Chicken Milanese
An Italian chicken dish may seem like it’ll come doused in sauce and cheese, but this recipe couldn’t be further from that. Some dried herbs and a light olive oil are all it takes to give the chicken breasts a ton of flavor. Pile the grilled meat onto beds of greens and dig in.
19. Tofu Veggie Lettuce Wraps
Inspired by the lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s, this vegan recipe cuts way down on the oil but doesn’t skimp on the ginger or garlic, so you get all the tasty spice and none of the unnecessary fat. A big plate of these make a light dinner one to look forward to.
20. Light Shrimp Scampi With Spaghetti Squash
Not only does this recipe swap out pasta for spaghetti squash, but it also ditches the regular scampi sauce ingredients (lots of butter, probably some cheese) for just a tablespoon of olive oil. The lemon juice, garlic, and parsley guarantee you’ll still enjoy the classic, scrumptious scampi flavors.
21. Charred Cauliflower Steaks With Romesco Sauce
This romesco sauce does have bread and almonds in it, but just a drizzle of it on top of the cauliflower goes a long way. Seasoned with garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes, it takes the humble veggie to new heights.