Cooking Light Diet: 15 All-Time Favorite Recipes From Our Members
Double-Layer Beef Tacos
This recipe gets its name from the double layer of soft tortillas and hard taco shells stuffed with beef, refried beans, and cheesy goodness. Inspired by the popular fast-food version, our taco is bigger and offers bright, fresh flavors but still puts up better numbers than the drive-through original.
Don't believe us? Here’s what CLD member Andrea Carter had to say: “The Double-Layer Beef Tacos is one of my favorites. I thought, ‘Wow, eat your heart out Taco Bell!’” Say goodbye to boring tacos with this guilt-free favorite that’s perfect for those nights when you want to change up your Taco Tuesday routine.
Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs with Scallion Rice
Instead of wasting money on takeout, this flavorful chicken and rice recipe is easy to replicate at home. We love what Anna Roberts said: "The recipe I tried the other night was an Asian-style chicken—the Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs with Scallion Rice, and I thought, 'Oh, boy! I can make this at home instead of going out for Chinese.' It was so easy, fast, and delicious, and definitely would take the place of Chinese takeout in my menu.
I looked at the recipe four times because I thought, 'Surely I’m missing something!' I feel like I’ve had, just personally, some of my own inspiration. That’s kind of fun, to get some inspiration from the recipe as well.”
Grilled Eggplant and Tofu Steaks with Sticky Hoisin Glaze
A simple yet hearty vegetarian meal makes for a Meatless Monday that will make giving up meat, even just for one day, a lot easier. We turned up the flavor with this Chinese-style barbecue dish, capturing the essence of great barbecue without relying on meat and giving us one more reason to fire up the grill. Even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy this satisfying, kid-friendly recipe.
“My kids are vegetarian, so I’m having a lot of fun exploring the vegetarian recipes,” said Claudia Smith. “I actually grilled eggplant and tofu last night. I want you to know that was adventurous. It was good.”
Vanilla Honey-Nut Smoothie
Start with frozen yogurt and add peanut butter, milk, and honey for a nutty sweet treat. Silken tofu and ground flaxseed help this smoothie stick with you throughout an afternoon of running errands. So filling and creamy, the kids won't even notice the tofu. Just ask proud tofu enthusiast and CLD member, Donna Smith, who has added this protein-rich smoothie to the list of favorites for her son and daughter.
“They love that Vanilla Honey-Nut Smoothie with tofu,” she said. “I probably make it two or three times a week. My son said, ‘This tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup shake.’ He could drink the whole thing.”
Transform the classic sandwich into a picnic-perfect pasta salad. This pasta dish combines all the flavors you’ve come to love in a BLT sandwich, except now you have the perfect excuse to eat both. We love the look of mezze penne, a smaller version of regular penne, but you can use any short pasta you like. The “lettuce” in this BLT is actually tender baby spinach. You could also substitute peppery arugula or even baby kale.
“The BLT Pasta I’ve actually made quite a few times,” said Kristen Zawitz. “You almost wonder how it can be healthy with bacon in it.”
Oatmeal adds texture to a hearty, satisfying pancake. For even more flavor, top with your favorite fruit. These fluffy, fiber-enriched short stacks are so delicious they even rival Katie Drerup’s family-favorite pancake recipe.
“One of our absolute favorites, which we’ve shared with a lot of people, is the Oatmeal Pancakes,” said the avid golfer. “My grandmother used to make these wonderful Swedish pancakes, and the Oatmeal Pancakes (we think) are even better than that! They’re so satisfying. As a matter of fact, my son called and said, ‘Mom, how do I do those Oatmeal Pancakes again?’ He loved them. His roommates all just loved the pancakes.”
Cran-Turkey, Greens, and Walnut Butter Sandwich
Many of our CLD members are busy and need the ease of fast sandwiches, so we’ve included easy lunch options with big-impact flavorful foods. This fast no-cook sandwich will transport you back to your Thanksgiving table, or at least make for a lighter lunch as Kelly Carter has experienced.
“When I’m talking to my friends, I get so excited about the Cranberry-Turkey Walnut Sandwich. I never would’ve thought of putting cranberries and blue cheese on my turkey sandwich. It was a flavor explosion. It’s not just the flavors, but the textures are varied—you get the creamy and soft things, but you also get the crunchy things.
Spicy Shrimp Sliders with Celery Mayonnaise
Forget the greasy, fatty burgers and lighten up your meal with a riff on the classic slider. Sandwiches always taste better when they’re bite-sized. Fresh shrimp is the centerpiece of these quick-cooking sliders that are perfect for garden parties or outdoor entertaining, not to mention a great way to use up celery. If you prefer a milder sandwich, omit the ground red pepper. These minis are proof the best things in life really do come in small packages, and echoing that sentiment is Kennan Hester: “The Spicy Shrimp Sliders is the easiest meal I’ve ever had to cook and super fast.”
Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas
A rich mixture of Monterey Jack cheese, grilled chicken, and fresh veggies will make these quesadillas a hit with everyone in the family. And they’re an easy and delicious way to get the kids to eat their veggies, without them even knowing. For spicier quesadillas, add a grilled jalapeno to the veggie mix. Table-ready in just 40 minutes, you can whip these quesadillas up quickly for lunch, dinner, or as a tasty afternoon snack.
Mushroom, Corn, and Poblano Tacos
These flavor-packed vegetarian tacos are filled with several ingredients you probably have on hand. Every bit as yummy and hearty as traditional beef tacos, we promise you won’t miss the meat. Ready in just 20 minutes, dinner will be ready on the table in no time. You can keep your tortillas soft by wrapping them in foil and keeping them in a warm oven.
I have to say we love the tacos and tostadas,” said Leslie Culkin. “We just had the Mushroom, Corn and Poblano Tacos last night. Every taco we have, the four of us are like, ‘Can we have more than two?’”
Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon
Nothing says comfort food quite like mac and cheese. And we couldn’t think of an easier skillet dish to cook that incorporates veggies, like broccoli, into your diet. In fact, this homemade one-dish wonder boasts more than just macaroni and cheese and broccoli. There’s also tender chicken and crispy bacon added to enhance the flavor, too. Better than any boxed variety, this is sure to win over both adults and children alike, as proven with CL Dieter, Renee and her family.
“I made the Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon. The kids loved it! And they just couldn’t believe that this was diet food.”
One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
This pasta dinner is a game changer: You use just enough liquid to cook the pasta—no colander needed. Not to mention it's also a budget-friendly meal, which helped Stephanie Atwell save $400 a month on ingredients for this recipe and other Cooking Light Diet meals.
I really like doing the one-pot pasta meals. They’re just so easy, and it was good for a fast night. I didn’t want to have a whole lot of dishes to deal with, and that was a nice one to see. I was able to do everything real fast and all in one container.”
Double Chocolate Chewy Crispy Bars
Move over, protein and granola bars! These crispy rice cereal bars are a chocolate lover’s dream. This snack bar has all the makings of a treasured childhood treat, but with ingredients like chocolate and cocoa, these goodies instantly make the transition to grown-up fare. Get ready to satisfy your next craving and snack attack with a healthy, DIY treat made from wholesome grains.
“There’s a double-chocolate, no-bake recipe with marshmallows and cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate,” said Stephanie Bellanger, who just dropped 30 pounds with the Cooking Light Diet. “When I was reading the recipe I was like, ‘Marshmallows? Is this right?’”
Sweet Fig Smoothies
Figs are downright sublime blended in a smoothie. This recipe offers a great use for figs that are very ripe (or even overripe) and need to be used soon. The riper the fig, the sweeter and more delicious in this creamy breakfast drink. And Teresa Taylor loves this quick on-the-go breakfast in the mornings, which has helped her maintain her 50-pound weight-loss!
“Everything is so tasty. I haven’t tasted anything that I haven’t liked so far. And it’s made me eat things I wouldn’t normally eat, like a fig smoothie. I was like, ‘Really? A fig smoothie?’” I love it! I would’ve never thought of that!”
Apple Turkey Snack Box
One of our many exclusive recipes for breakfast and lunch, you can only get this healthy, portable box of protein-filled foods and more by joining the Cooking Light Diet.
“I like the Dijon dipping sauce in the snack box,” said Lara Kertesz. “That’s given me some ideas. I liked it for a quick meal, especially when we’re working outside and need to get some food and energize. So that’s something really simple that I like, where I’ve got the ingredients.”
Make this tasty snack box part of your Cooking Light DIET meal plan. Sign up today.