Chickpea Salad Sandwich Without Mayo

Get out of your lunchtime rut and make packing lunches more exciting with this Chickpea Salad Sandwich. 

half of a chickpea salad sandwich on a cutting board

Ever get in a lunch rut? Need new ideas for packing your kids’ or your own lunch? Are packable noontime options dwindling? Surely you’ve met the ‘What shall I pack for lunch?” question.

I always pack my lunch for the next day the night before. If not, I’m typically running out the door and a Siggi’s yogurt, KIND bar, and a piece of fruit are just tossed in my bag on my way out. I don’t mind those “snacky” kind of lunches once in a while, but I’d prefer more of a meal kind of lunch.

Plant-Based Proteins:

This chickpea walnut sandwich is a plant-based tuna/chicken salad makeover. I always try and make sure protein is present at lunchtime to help keep me full through the afternoon. Chickpeas are the perfect pulse for this recipe because the firm texture holds its shape. The addition of the walnuts is key for the crunch factor, while also providing heart-healthy fats.

chickpea salad sandwich on rye bread with an apple

Are garbanzo beans the same as chickpeas?

Yes. Originally the name garbanzo bean came from the Spanish community and over time different cultures have referred to them as another name. Eventually, these beans came to be known as chickpeas to most people in the world today.

Are chickpeas lectins?

Yes, chickpeas are considered a legume, and all legumes contain lectin. Lectin, a protein, binds to carbs and is known to some as an anti-nutrient. This is somewhat a controversial concept, because people with stomach sensitives may see an effect, but most do not. Also, most foods containing lectin are high in antioxidants, so the good outweighs the bad. If you are concerned about lectins, know that once they are cooked, the lectin is deactivated.

chickpea salad sandwich on rye bread cut in half

Ingredients for Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

  • chickpeas
  • walnuts
  • plain Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt is a great substitute for mayonnaise to trim back on saturated fat and replace it with a boost of protein and calcium instead.
  •  Dijon mustard
  •  honey
  • scallions
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • whole wheat bread, toasted
  • (Optional) Toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion

How to Make a Chickpea Salad Sandwich Without Mayo

Mash the chickpeas in a small bowl using a fork. Don’t over-mash, we aren’t making hummus!

Mix in the nuts, mustard, greek yogurt, honey, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the chickpea salad on your bread to make the perfect sandwich. You can also add it on top of a salad, or dip with crackers – this chickpea walnut mixture is versatile to get you out of your lunchtime rut.

vegetarian chickpea salad sandwich on a cutting board

Should you rinse canned garbanzo beans?

You should and mainly it’s because the liquid contains a lot of unnecessary sodium which is why. most recommend draining and rinsing chickpeas before using.

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cut in half chickpea sandwich

Chickpea Walnut Sandwich

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2
  • Category: sandwich


  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
  • (Optional) Toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion


  1. Add chickpeas to a bowl and lightly mash with a fork. (Not too much. We aren’t making hummus!) Add walnuts, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, honey, and scallions and mix together. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Add a desired amount of the chickpea mixture to the bread and add desired toppings. Top with the other slice of bread.


Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker.

Keywords: sandwich, vegetarian, plant-based

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Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot

Do you have an Instant Pot and don’t know where to start? I am still getting the hang of it, but I’ve mastered how to make PERFECT hard-boiled and soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the American Egg Board and the Egg Nutrition Center. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

instant pot hard boiled eggs on a gray plate next to egg carton and shells

What Can the Instant Pot Do?

215,000+ Amazon customers purchased the Instant Pot on Prime Day alone. Now that it’s in everyone’s kitchen they are looking for new recipes to try.

The Instant Pot is a single appliance that does the job of seven (yes, seven!) different kitchen appliances. It can handle the tasks of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and a warming pot. Think of all those appliances taking up space in your kitchen that can be replaced by one.

New to using the Instant Pot? Learn about these seven tips for efficiently using your Instant Pot.

While I am still learning all the functions of the Instant Pot, the first technique I mastered was preparing hard and soft-boiled eggs.

infographic for cooking eggs in the instant pot

How Are Eggs Healthy?

One large egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids. Nearly half the protein is in the yolk so don’t ditch the yolk!

Eggs were once avoided and criticized for their cholesterol content. However, the totality of scientific research has shown no or little effect between dietary cholesterol and cardiac outcomes or markers of heart disease risk in healthy individuals.

Government and health organizations have revised their dietary cholesterol recommendations. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans place no daily limit on dietary cholesterol intake. Foods like egg yolks and some shellfish are higher in dietary cholesterol but not saturated fats making them a healthful choice along with healthy eating patterns.

Hard-boiled eggs are something I pretty much meal prep every week for myself. One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including choline plus the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, all just for 70 calories.

three hard boiled instant pot eggs on a gray plate next to the shells

Why the Instant Pot method works:

Now, I know making hard-boiled eggs on the stovetop is not too challenging, but this Instant Pot method makes it even simpler and in just 5 minutes, they are ready. Plus, there is a science behind why cooking eggs in the Instant Pot make them easier to peel. The reason according to Alton Brown is:

“Eggs that are quickly heated are easier to peel than eggs that are slowly heated, say in cold water brought to a boil. Fast cooking prevents the white from bonding so epoxy-like to the outer membranes. Since pressure steamers can generate temperatures between 230 and 250 degrees F it is suspected that this is actually why folks think they’re magic egg machines.” Also, thorough cooling eases peeling by allowing the proteins in the albumen to fully set and harden, thus preventing tearing.

instant pot sitting next to gray striped towel

How to Make Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot

Pour the water in and place the rack (trivet) in the bottom. Then sit the eggs on the rack in the Instant Pot in a single layer.

Cook for 3 minutes on high pressure. Once the timer goes off, quickly release the pressure.

Transfer the eggs to a bowl with ice and cold water until they are cool enough to hold in your hand.

Peel right away.

The Best Pressure Cooker Hard Boiled Eggs

If you want to make hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot, pour the water in. Set the rack in the bottom. Place the eggs on the rack. Cook for 5 minutes using high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then transfer to an ice bath. Peel once they are cool enough for you to hold.

Tips for Making

  • Make sure the eggs are in a single layer, do not stack them.
  • There is an accessory you can buy that is specifically for making eggs in the Instant Pot that may allow you to cook more at a time.
  • When you release the pressure, place a towel over the top. Also make sure the pressure cooker is away from cabinets so the steam doesn’t ruin them.

How Long Do Cooked Eggs Last?

Hard-Boiled Eggs will keep up to a week in your refrigerator. Make a few perfect hard-boiled eggs to create delicious recipes throughout the week.

cobb salad topped with hard boiled eggs made in the pressure cooker

A few ways I use hard-boiled eggs are:

  • Pair hard-boiled eggs with avocado and tomato. I usually just add a little salt and pepper, but when I’m looking to add an extra pop of flavor, I add everything but the bagel, sesame seasoning blend.
  • For a filling snack, try my version of a “quick deviled egg”. Scoop out the yolk, mix with hummus and fill back in the egg white.

Ways to Use Instant Pot Eggs


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hard boiled eggs on a gray plate

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 3
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 5
  • Method: Instant Pot


Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.



Eggs (up to as many that can fit in an even layer in your Instant Pot – do not stack)
1 cup water

Instant Pot with the rack


Place the rack in the bottom of the pot. Pour the water in the pot. Place the eggs on the rack.

For soft-boiled:
Set Instant pot on high pressure on manual 3 minutes. Quick release placing a towel over the valve. Quickly add eggs to a bowl with cold water and ice until cool enough to hold. Peel right away.

For hard-boiled:
Set Instant Pot on high pressure on manual 5 minutes. Natural release 5 minutes then use quick release placing a towel over the valve. Quickly add eggs to a bowl with cold water and ice until cool enough to hold. Peel right away.

Keywords: eggs, instant pot, meal prep

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Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs
Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Zucchini Bread Smoothie

This Zucchini Smoothie tastes exactly like your favorite veggie bread! Only 8 ingredients needed for a full on powerhouse in a glass!

zucchini smoothie in a small glass with straw next to diced zucchini

This smoothie literally does taste like zucchini bread. When I took the first sip of this smoothie, my tastebuds could identify every single flavor that was blended together.

We pretty much have all heard of adding leafy greens to smoothies but have you considered veggies like zucchini. I recently started adding this vegetable to my smoothie with the plethora I’ve been picking up from the farmer’s market.

The other recipe that I run to when I have too many zucchini on hand is my chocolate chip zucchini bread, which I’m sure everyone has tried at some point (there’s also a gluten free version). One thing I really love about this smoothie is that it’s healthy, but its taste is absolutely delicious!

Don’t let the green color be a turn-off. Actually, most green smoothies are the ones with the best nutrition profiles!

For the future when you need a savory zucchini side dish try these Zucchini Carrot Fritters.

green zucchini smoothie on a board next to white towel and diced zucchini pieces

Healthy Zucchini Smoothie Ingredients

Check out all of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are packed in every glass you make!

Banana: rich in potassium and fiber
Zucchini: vitamins C and A, potassium, folate, and fiber
Spinach: potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E, high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium
Walnuts: rich in omega-3 fats, protein, copper, manganese
Cinnamon: polyphenol antioxidants
Ginger: anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Orange Zest: fiber, vitamins, and polyphenols

Smoothie Meal Prep Tips

If you are a beginner at making smoothies, I recommend starting with baby spinach. It’s a neutral veggie that blends well. Honestly, if you are using nut butters, protein powder, and/or berries; all of those ingredients overpower the taste of the spinach. You can’t even tell it’s in there!

PRO TIP: After you open your spinach (the kind in the plastic containers from the store) place a paper towel on top. This keeps the condensation from the lid off the greens and makes it stay fresher a little longer.

Chop and steam your zucchini before adding it to your smoothie. Not only does it blend better this way, but your body can absorb more nutrition. When you steam the zucchini, it breaks down the cell wall and opens up the micronutrients, which makes it easier for your body to absorb and digest.

Transfer the steamed zucchini to a parchment-lined baking sheet and place it in the freezer (this is also a good tip for berries too). Once they are frozen, place them in small plastic bags so you can easily toss them in the blender the next time you go to make a smoothie.

You can watch the video for all of the smoothie tips if you want!

healthy zucchini smoothie in a small glass with paper straw next to diced zucchini pieces
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Zucchini Bread Smoothie via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #zucchini #zucchinibread #smoothie

Zucchini Bread Smoothie

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving 1x
  • Category: Drinks
  • Cuisine: American


Zucchini bread in smoothie form, while adding in extra veggies!


  • 1 small banana (frozen)
  • 1/2 cup zucchini (chopped, steamed, and frozen)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped (or 1 tablespoon Pamela’s Nut Flour Blend)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)


  1. In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. For a thicker consistency, add ice. For a thinner consistency, add water.

Keywords: smoothie, drink

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Instant Pot Lemon Ginger Salmon

Instant Pot Lemon Ginger Salmon is a quick and easy 20 minute meal that’s also healthy and can be served with just about any side dish.

salmon layered with ginger and lemon in an instant pot

A lot of Instant Pot recipes are used for tough cuts of meat. The function of the Instant Pot creates steam under extreme pressure and forces its way to the tough fibers of the meat breaking them down to become tender.

But what if you have an already delicate protein like salmon?

You can still utilize the Instant Pot for more delicate proteins like salmon, but the Instant Pot is utilized a little differently.

Instead of searing and submerging in liquid, utilize the steaming rack of the Instant Pot. Add a little liquid on the bottom which will steam the salmon and infuse flavors into the final product. For this recipe, I used vegetable broth and a few sprigs of parsley. Utilize different herbs to infuse flavors.

Why I Love Instant Pot Salmon

  • Tender and never dry or overcooked
  • Juicy, flavorful, and ready in less than 30 minutes
  • A great meal prep recipe
  • Minimal ingredients needed
hands holding a bowl of quinoa, salmon, and green beans

Salmon Nutrition

Research shows eating seafood two to three times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause. Seafood provides unique health benefits as a lean protein and is the best source for omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats essential to human health and development.

Use this simple and flavorful Instant Pot Lemon Ginger Salmon to help you meet the mark for enjoying seafood 2-3 times each week!

Embrace the unsaturated fats found in foods such as walnuts, seeds, plant oils, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, mackerel, and herring.

Fats play an essential role in human health from head (brain) to toe (joints). Replacing just 5 percent of your caloric intake from so-called bad fats (like trans and saturated fat found in red meat) with unsaturated fat from seafood and plant-based foods can reduce your risk of death by 27 percent.

Choosing the Best Salmon

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to picking out salmon, but there are quite a few differences.

Wild, Farm-Raised, or Frozen?

It’s important to know that just because salmon can be frozen, doesn’t mean it loses its nutritional value. Frozen salmon is a great budget option and good seafood to have on hand in the freezer.

Farm raised salmon typically contains more fat because of the diet and environment the fish are in. Compared to wild salmon, which feed on other natural food sources. Wild caught salmon usually contains more minerals as well.

While both breeds have contaminants, they are higher in the farmed salmon, but stricter rules have been put in place.

Lemon Ginger Salmon Ingredients

  • vegetable broth
  • fresh parsley
  • salmon fillet
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh ginger
  • lemon
salmon placed in an instant pot topped with lemon and ginger slices

How to Make Lemon Ginger Salmon in the Instant Pot

Pour the veggie broth into the Instant Pot and add the trivet in. Spray the trivet with cooking spray.

Skin side down, place the salmon on the rack, and season with salt and pepper. Lay the pieces of ginger and lemon on top. By simply laying the lemon and ginger on top of the salmon fillet, the flavors penetrate into the salmon fillet creating fresh and vibrant flavors.

Place the lid on and turn the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes.

Once it’s ready, turn the valve back to quickly release the pressure. Be careful and stand back, the steam is extremely hot.

Take the trivet out by grabbing the handles then transfer the salmon to serve.

Can You Use Frozen Salmon?

You can, just allow it time to thaw before adding it to the pressure cooker.

quinoa, salmon, and green beans in a white bowl with white napkin
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quinoa, salmon, and green beans in a white bowl

Instant Pot Lemon Ginger Salmon

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 3
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot


You’ll be soon adding this easy Instant Pot Lemon Ginger Salmon to your weekly dinner menu rotation.



1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
1 pound salmon fillet (about 1-inch thick)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small knob (about 2 tablespoons) fresh ginger, sliced
1 lemon, sliced


Pour broth and parsley in the Instant Pot and then put in the steamer rack (coated with cooking spray) at the bottom, making sure the handles are extended up.

Place salmon, skin side down, on the steamer rack. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer on pieces of ginger and lemon.

Close the Instant Pot and make sure vent is turned to “Sealing”. Plug it in, press “Steam” and press the + or – buttons to set it to 3 minutes. When the Instant Pot beeps that it’s done, quick release the pressure, being careful to stay out of the way of the steam that will shoot up. Press the “Warm/Cancel” button. Remove lid, and using hot pads, carefully remove rack with salmon and set on a plate.

Serve alongside a whole grain and vegetable for a complete meal. 


Cooking time may vary. Depending on the thickness of your salmon, 3 minutes is perfect for a fillet that’s about 1 inch at its thickest part.

Keywords: salmon, Instant Pot, dinner, healthy fats, heart healthy

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Best Classic Beef Chili Recipe

Are you ready to enjoy the best classic beef chili you have ever tasted? Made with hearty ingredients like ground beef and beans, and full of flavor from our chili seasonings. 

classic beef chili made with ground beef topped with avocado next to cheese and tortilla chips

This recipe was originally created for the Beef Throwdown with New York Beef Council

I love a good bowl of chili, but depending on where you live, chili can look a little different. So I decided to take it back to the good ole’ days and create a classic beef chili that has those traditional flavors, heartiness, and simple ingredients. 

In case you are wondering, this is actually a healthy beef chili recipe and is packed full of protein. Obviously ground beef plays a big part, but the black beans and pinto beans are a good source of plant-based protein too. 

Beef is a great source of iron and helps with muscle maintenance, growth, keeps you fuller because of the protein content, and is full of vitamins and minerals, including creatine.

One of my favorite things about this homemade chili is that it requires pantry staples. This means you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand so you may not even have to make a trip to the store!

Classic Beef Chili Ingredients

Protein: ground beef, black beans, pinto beans

Spices: salt, garlic (minced and powder), chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt

Veggies: carrots, onion, fire roasted crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeno

Liquids: olive oil, beef, or chicken broth

Toppings: sour cream, cheese, avocado, chives, tortilla chips

How to Make this Ground Beef Chili Recipe with Beans

Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ground beef and salt. Brown the beef until it’s no longer pink. 

Drain off the grease, but keep 1 to 2 tablespoons in the pot. Set the cooked ground beef to the side for now. 

Add the diced onions and carrots, allow them to cook just until softened. 

Place the jalapeno and garlic in, continuing cooking for another 2 minutes. 

Sprinkle in the remaining spices, and stir to combine. Then add the tomato paste and stir until the veggies are coated and saute for 2 more minutes. 

Pour in the roasted tomatoes and broth. Be sure to scrap the bottom when stirring to remove any bits that are stuck. 

Stir in the beans and cooked beef, then bring the chili to a low simmer. 

Cover and let it cook on low heat for at least 45 minutes. Chili is really great and flavorful when it cooks for at least 2 hours, so if you have the time, let it go longer. 

Stir occasionally. If you find that it is becoming too thick, you can add a little water or broth. 

Serve with your favorite toppings! 

ground beef chili in a bowl topped with tortilla chips, avocado, cheese, chives, and sour cream

What Beef Can Be Used in Chili? 

Because I was going for a classic recipe I chose ground beef, but there are tons of varieties of beef chilis. Here are a few cuts that are more popular:

  • Brisket – if you like corned beef or pastrami you would like brisket chili
  • Beef Chuck – because this cut is a little tougher, this is best for slow cooker chili
  • Meat from boneless short ribs – these are cheaper than bone in ribs

How to Store Healthy Beef Chili

Allow the chili to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container and refrigerate. It will stay fresh for up to 4 days. 

To freeze, place the chili in a freezer-friendly container and store for up to 2 months. You can also freeze in single-serving portions to make meal prep easier. If you want to reheat the full batch, store the chili flat in a plastic bag to save space in the freezer. 

classic ground beef chili and beans in a red bowl topped with garnishes

Hosting a Chili Bar Party 

If you want to let your guests do the work or allow them to customize their chili to their liking try a chili bar. 

Simply make the chili then set it out, along with all of the toppings. You could also transfer the chili to a slow cooker and place it on warm if you wanted to set up a table with all of the ingredients. 

Chili bars are great for parties and game days, plus you hardly have to worry about entertaining full time! 

Chili Bar Topping Ideas  

  • Sour cream 
  • Greek yogurt 
  • Cheddar cheese 
  • Sliced jalapenos 
  • Pico de gallo 
  • Tortilla crunchies 
  • Oyster crackers 
  • Chives 
  • Hot sauce
  • Diced onions
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ground beef chili in a bowl topped with tortilla chips, avocado, cheese, chives, and sour cream

Classic Chili with Ground Beef

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x


Are you ready to enjoy the best classic beef chili you have ever tasted? Made with hearty ingredients like ground beef and beans, and full of flavor from our chili seasonings. 



1 teaspoon olive oil

1 ½ pounds ground beef

2 teaspoons salt

1 medium onion, diced

4 carrots, peeled and finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely minced (optional)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

2 cups beef or chicken broth

1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Toppings: sour cream, cheese, avocado, chives, tortilla chips, etc.


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium high heat. Add oil and let heat to medium high heat. Add the ground beef, breaking into small crumbles with a wooden spoon. Add salt and continue to cook until beef have browned and fully cooked.
  2. Drain beef draining off most of the fat, but reserve 1-2 tablespoons in the pot. Add the onions and carrots. Sauté until soft. Add the jalapeno and garlic. Continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Sauté for about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the fire roasted tomatoes and broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift anything that started to stick.
  5. Stir in the beef, black beans, and pinto beans.
  6. Bring chili to a low simmer. Cover the pot and allow to simmer on low heat for at least 45 minutes (ideally up to 2 hours to really develop the flavors!) Keep checking and stirring the chili every so often. If the chili becomes too thick, thin with additional broth or water.
  7. Top with your favorite topping and enjoy!

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More Soups, Stews, and Chilis to Try:

Beef Meatball Gyros

Beef Meatball Gyros have all of the traditional flavors and are topped with a homemade Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce that is better than any restaurant you have ever tasted! 

beef meatball gyro open faced on small white plate with greek yogurt tzatziki

Most of the time you probably don’t make gyros at home, because they seem a little complicated and they have to taste just right because you are comparing them to the best Greek takeout in town. 

Using ground beef and making a meatball gyro is so much easier and when you top it with my famous greek yogurt tzatziki sauce it’s even better! 

What Is Typically in a Gyro? 

Traditional gyros are made from shaved lamb, beef, a combination of both, and sometimes chicken. If you were to see a behind-the-scenes view of an authentic Greek restaurant you would probably notice the vertical rotisserie. Also if you have ever been to a fair, you know what i am talking about. 

The seasoned meat (it usually has a lot of herbs for the Greek flavor, heavy on the garlic) is served on a warm pita, topped with lettuce, onions, feta, and smothered in tzatziki. 

Why Use Ground Beef? 

Beef is an excellent source of protein, choline, iron, and other important vitamins that help our bodies stay healthy. 

According to the New York Beef Council, “On average, a 3 ounce serving of beef provides half (25grams) of the Daily Value for protein, which is one of the most satisfying nutrients.”

It’s also an affordable meat that can go a long way when feeding larger families depending on the dish you are making.

folding together the homemade beef gyro on a white plate

Ingredients Needed for Ground Beef Meatball Gyros 

panko breadcrumbs – no need to grab the seasoned kind just go with the plain


lean ground beef

onion, grated

cloves of garlic


Spices: Italian parsley, cumin, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper

What You Need for Greek Yogurt Tzatziki:

plain Greek yogurt

English cucumber


olive oil

fresh dill

Salt and black pepper

fresh lemon juice

close up of a homemade meatball gyro with tzatziki and toppings

Making the Greek Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce

Combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, oil, spices, lemon juice, and cucumber into a small bowl. Taste, then adjust the seasonings as desired. 

Place it in the fridge covered until you are ready to serve. You can also make it ahead of time if needed. 

How to Make Homemade Gyros Using Ground Beef 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Stir together the plain breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes. 

Then add the ground beef, eggs, and spices. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix the ingredients together. You want each meatball to have a little taste of all of the ingredients. 

Pinch off small amounts of the beef mixture to make the meatballs or use a cookie or ice cream scoop for more precise measurement. 

Place the meatballs on a baking sheet leaving a little bit of room in between each one. 

Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which should take no more than 18 minutes. Sometimes the cooking time may vary based on the size of your gyro meatballs. 

Once they are ready, let them rest just a few minutes before making your gyro. 

close up of a meatball gyro on a flatbread garnished with parsley

Assembling the Perfect Meatball Gyro 

Combine the tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt. 

Add a few meatballs in the center of each flatbread (warm these first if you would like). Then spoon on the greek yogurt tzatziki sauce down the center, top with the cucumber mixture. 

Add a little feta and chopped parsley, then wrap and serve! 

ground beef meatball gyro topped with feta and greek yogurt tzatziki sauce

Storing Leftovers

If you have any leftovers, store the meatballs, tzatziki, and cucumber mixture in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

It’s best to assemble when you are ready to serve so your bread doesn’t get soggy! 

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beef meatball gyro open faced on small white plate with greek yogurt tzatziki

Beef Meatball Gyros

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


Beef Meatball Gyros have all of the traditional flavors and are topped with a homemade greek yogurt tzatziki sauce that is better than any restaurant you have ever tasted! 



For the Tzatziki sauce:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup English cucumber, grated, pat dry with a paper towel

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Gyro Meatballs:

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup milk

1 pound 93% lean ground beef

½ small onion, grated

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large egg, beaten

2 tablespoons flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

To assemble:

1 cup English cucumber, finely diced

1 cup tomatoes, finely diced

1/2 cup red onion, finely diced

4 Flatbreads, likely toasted, if desired

Feta Cheese (optional)

Parsley for garnish (optional)


For the Tzatziki Sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, dill, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Adjust to taste. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


For the gyro meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the panko breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, parsley, cumin, oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper. With a wooden spoon (I prefer to use my hands!) mix until ingredients are evenly dispersed through the meat mixture.
  4. Form small meatballs, by using a small ice-cream scoop or eye-ball measurements, and place on the backing sheet.
  5. Bake for 12-18 minutes or internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. (Cook time will vary depending on the size of your meatballs.)
  6. Allow meatballs to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.


To assemble:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place a few meatballs down the center of each flatbread. Spoon a generous amount of Tzatziki sauce down the center next to the meatballs and top with a heaping spoonful of the tomato and cucumber mixture. Garnish with feta cheese and chopped parsley, if desired. Wrap up and enjoy!

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Beef and Barley Soup

Cozy up to a bowl of Beef and Barley Soup. Not only can you add layers and layers of flavors, but they also can be balanced nutritionally.

Beef & Barley Soup in a white bowl garnished with parsley

I am on a total soup and stew kick lately. Mainly because I can cook once and eat all week.

I am teaching three cooking classes this week, so cooking all day at work, the last thing I want to do when I get home it to cook again and wash more dishes!

What is Hulled Barley?

Aim to add more whole grains in soups and stews when you can. Barley is a fantastic whole grain. I chose to use hull-less barley. This type of barley has an outer hull that’s so loosely attached to the kernel that it generally falls off during harvesting. This cuts down on processing and ensures that all of the bran and germ are retained.

Ingredients for Beef and Barley Soup 

all-purpose flour

Veggies: celery, carrots, garlic, kale, onion

Spices: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley

beef chuck roast – trim the fat if needed and dice into bite size pieces

olive oil

red wine

tomato paste

beef broth


hulless barley


fresh parsley

top shot of hulled barley soup in a white bowl with a garnish next to dishtowel

How to Make Hulled Barley Soup 

Once you have trimmed and diced the beef, add the flour, salt, and pepper to a shallow bowl or dish and dredge each piece. Shake off the excess flour if needed. 

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium-high heat. 

Brown the beef, turning as needed. You will need to do this step in batches because you don’t want to overload the pot. Once the meat has finished browning, remove and set aside. 

Add the carrots, celery, diced onions, garlic, and oregano. Stirring occasionally, cook the veggies until they are soft. 

Pour in the red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping the brown bits. Simmer and reduce the red wine by half. Add in the tomato paste and stir. 

Place the beef back in the pot, and add the water and broth. 

Bring it to a boil then add the hulled barley. 

Turn the heat down low, and simmer for 45 minutes. The meat should be tender and the barley should be cooked all the way through. 

Be sure to stir it occasionally; this will keep the barley from sticking together. 

Once the soup is done, remove the pot from the heat and the kale. Season with salt and pepper! 

My Barley Soup is Too Thick, What Do I Do? 

If you find that the soup is too thick for your liking after it is done simmering, add some more water until it reaches a consistency you are happy with. 

Tips for Making and Storing 

  • Be sure to add the kale while the soup is still hot so it will wilt. 
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days. 
  • This barley soup is great for freezing. Let it cool completely before placing it in the freezer. To serve again, reheat on the stovetop over low heat until it is warm all the way through. 

Soups are great! Not only can you add layers and layers of flavors, but they also can be balanced nutritionally. Any good soup starts with mirepoix. I like to use dry herbs and spices in my soup recipes because you are able to add them during the cooking process, as they can stand up to the heat. 

Beef & Barley Soup in bowls with a white and blue striped napkin

This beef and barley soup may take a little longer to prepare, but it’s worth the wait.

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Beef and Barley Soup

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, fat trimmed off and cubed
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup hulless barley
  • 4 cups kale, spines removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


In a shallow dish combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the beef cubes with flour, shaking off excess flour. 

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or large pot) over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the pot and cook just until the meat starts to brown, turning as needed. Do this in 2 or 3 batches, to not crowd the pot. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, add the chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and oregano. Cook the vegetables until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Deglaze the pan with red wine scraping the fond (the brown bits) from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer and reduce red wine by half. Add tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables.

Add beef back to the pot with water and beef broth. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil, add barley and turn down to a simmer for 45-50 minutes, until meat is tender and barley is cooked through. Stir occasionally so the barley won’t stick together. If you find that too much liquid has evaporated or the soup is too thick add more water as necessary until you get the desired consistency.

Remove soup from heat and stir in the kale while the soup is still hot to wilt. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. 

Garnish with parsley, if using.


If you do not want to use wine, deglaze with additional beef broth.

Keywords: barley, beef, soup, batch cooking, meal prep

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Cranberry Relish

With just five simple ingredients this Cranberry Relish will add a pop of color and a side dish full of nutrients that will be a great addition to the table at any holiday gathering.

a small bowl of cranberry relish next to lemon, garnish, and single cranberries

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, everyone is finalizing their Thanksgiving Day menu. Thanksgiving dinner is all about timing. What needs to be in/out the oven or stovetop. I am always a fan of the menu items that can be made ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about factoring that in the day of the festivities.

This recipe is inspired by one of my friend’s aunt’s recipe. (Hi Steph!) I was scrambling last week to get a menu together for my Thanksgiving cooking class at work. I’ve been teaching multiple Thanksgiving Day-themed cooking classes for work the past 3 years now. I get a lot of the same people attending the classes, so I didn’t want to repeat any previous recipes used in class.

I tend to catch up with family and friends on my way to and from work in the car. Whoever invented Bluetooth, thank you! I was chatting with Steph on my way home from work and I mentioned how I didn’t know what I was making yet for my class the next day. She was told me about her Aunt’s cranberry relish recipe that her family goes crazy for every year. What I really loved about it was it was only a few simple ingredients and everything goes right into a food processor. Plus, it is a recipe that can be made ahead of time. I did tweak the original recipe to make it healthier.

Cranberries: What’s So Great About Them?

I’m so glad you asked! Cranberries are actually full of antioxidants known as PACs, which may help reduce inflammation related to chronic diseases and aging.

A cup of fresh cranberries is a great source of fiber and Vitamin C, but the downside is that they only come into season during the fall.

The good news is that you can buy up several bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them to have year-round!

Also, research indicates that consumption of flavonoids in foods and beverages may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis.

In vitro and in vivo experiments with flavonoids demonstrate that flavonoids are dietary antioxidants and inhibit LDL oxidation, inhibit platelet aggregation and adhesion, inhibit enzymes involved in lipid and lipoprotein metabolism that affect the immune response to oxidized LDL and their uptake by endothelial macrophages, may induce endothelium-dependent vassorelaxation, and may increase reverse cholesterol transport and decrease total and LDL cholesterol.

Cranberries contain both hydroxycinnamic acids and flavonoids. The cranberry flavonoids belong to three groups: anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, which make cranberries a great addition as part of a heart-healthy diet. Source: The Cranberry Insitute.

infographic describing the health benefits and nutrition of cranberries

What You Need For Cranberry Relish

  • fresh cranberries
  • lemon
  • pineapple rings – I am using canned with the juice drained, you can use fresh if you would like.
  • sugar
  • honey

How To Make Cranberry Relish

Add the cranberries to the food processor and pulse until they begin breaking down. Depending on the size of your food processor you may have to do this in batches.

Slice the lemon into wedges and remove the seeds. Add the wedges, with the peel on, to the processor and pulse just until it breaks down.

Then add the sugar, honey, and pineapple rings. Continue pulsing until the relish reaches your desired consistency.

Can You Make Cranberry Relish with Nuts?

Yes! Because I recommend chilling cranberry relish overnight so all of the flavors come together, fold them in just before serving. Pecans and walnuts pair well with cranberry dishes, but you can add any variety of nuts.

I like smaller pieces, so if you have whole pecan or walnuts chop you can chop by hand or throw them in a food processor for a few pulses.

close up of cranberry relish made with real cranberries next to lemon half

What’s the Difference Between Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish?

Relish is made with raw ingredients that are blended together then chilled. Traditionally cranberry sauce is actually cooked (unless you are eating it from the can) and is much sweeter.

Can You Use Frozen Cranberries?

You can use frozen, just know the flavor is much more muted, but that’s usually the case when you swap frozen fruits and veggies for fresh.

Be sure you allow for some additional time so they can thaw completely. Then drain the cranberries to remove the excess liquid.

Cranberry Relish Serving Suggestions

In case you were wondering, here are some of the popular ways cranberry relish is served.

  • As a holiday side dish
  • Over Brie or cream cheese
  • With crackers – you could use a salty variety or graham crackers for a sweeter version
  • Topping – use the leftover to top off your pancakes, waffles, or yogurt bowls

How Long is Cranberry Relish Good For?

You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. This also means you can make it ahead of time if you are prepping for holiday meals to ease the stress! 

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Cranberry Relish

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: side dish


  • 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple rings, juice drained
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey


  1. Place cranberries in a large food processor and pulse to begin to break down the cranberries.
  2. Cut lemon into small wedges and remove any seeds. Add the whole lemon to the food processor with the cranberries (do NOT remove the peel). Pulse to begin to break down the lemons with the cranberries.
  3. Add pineapple, sugar, and honey. Pulse to reach desired consistency.
  4. Let chill overnight to allow the flavors to come together.


*If using frozen cranberries, let thaw completely and drain to remove any excess liquid before preparing this recipe.

Keywords: cranberry relish, cranberry, side dish, thanksgiving, holiday

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Roasted Maple-Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts have just enough tang and the right amount of sweetness! The perfect side dish that pairs well with just about any meal! 

close up of maple mustard glazed brussels sprouts in a white bowl

Some people may turn their nose up at the thought of Brussels sprouts, but honestly, they just need to try cooking them a different way! The maple mustard glaze brings in so much flavor, adding a twist to just regular roasted sprouts. 

With the holiday season just around the corner, these become a staple around our house. Once you try them I promise you will be eating this delicious side dish all year long! 

Because this is a sheet pan recipe, it’s easy to make and almost hands off! So while these are great during the week, you can easily double or triple the recipe to feed a larger crowd without much more prep work.

Why I Love Brussels Sprouts

For starters, brussels sprouts are packed full of nutrients and rich in Vitamin K and Vitamin C. They also contain an antioxidant called kaempferol, that may help to reduce inflammation and promote a healthy heart. 

If you aren’t a seafood lover, double up on your Brussels because they are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3s! 

So besides all of the amazing health benefits, Brussels sprouts can be cooked in so many ways which makes them really versatile in the kitchen.  Simply changing out the sauce, glaze, or seasoning offers a whole new side dish. Let’s not forget they are great in salads when they are shredded too! 

top shot of roasted maple mustard brussels sprouts in a white bowl

Ingredients for Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts 

lemon juice

Dijon mustard

maple syrup

olive oil

salt and pepper

Brussels sprouts

How to Make Roasted Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts 

Prep your baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick spray or using parchment paper and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 

Once you have halved and trimmed the Brussels sprouts, mix those in and stir until they are fully coated. 

brussels sprouts roasted with a maple mustard glaze in a white bowl

Pour the mixture in an even layer onto the baking sheets. You can drizzle the remaining glaze over if there’s any left in the bowl. 

Roast for about 30 minutes or until the brussels are tender and caramelized. Stir them occasionally or flip with a spatula half way through. 

Can You Use Frozen Brussels Sprouts? 

You can if that’s all you have. Allow them to thaw completely before roasting.

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Roasted Maple-Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: roasting


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
  3. Mix in the Brussels sprouts until they are fully coated. Pour the Brussels sprouts on an even layer on the baking sheet, drizzling any remaining glaze on top.
  4. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Brussels sprouts should be tender and caramelized to your desired doneness.

Keywords: Brussels sprouts, roasting, vegetable side dish

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Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

Lasagna is such an underrated dinner. Maybe, it is because when most people think of lasagna, the thought of having to assemble this meal detours many. Adding a little twist on a classic, try this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna.

This post is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

What if I told you I could provide you with tips to make this meal both delicious and easy to prepare?

Lasagna is one of those recipes that can be made ahead, frozen for later, and a hearty meal that can help make weeknight meals a breeze. Also, depending on how you make this dish it can incorporate four of the five food groups all in one pan.

Dietitian Tip:  Aim to have at least 3 food groups featured for meals (making one of those a fruit or vegetable!)

Each food group has its own properties which can be beneficial for one’s health. Building colorful balanced plates can help maintain healthy eating patterns, providing essential vitamins and minerals to keep the body healthy. For example:

Grains: Grains have carbohydrates which provide our body with energy. Grains are divided into 2 subgroups: Whole Grains and Refined Grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. Aim to make half of your grains whole grains.

Protein: Is a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Fruits: Contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which may also help to protect you from chronic diseases.

Vegetables: Eating vegetables that are of different colors will help to provide your body with important nutrients like fiber (can help you to feel fuller for longer), folate (beneficial for fetus growth during pregnancy),and vitamins A (aids in good vision) and C (aids in a strong immune system).

Dairy: Which has a strong association to improved bone health. 

Can beef fit onto a healthy plate?

When building a balanced plate, beef goes beyond just being a good source of protein.

Beef supplies 10 essential nutrients including:

  • Iron – helps your body use oxygen
  • Choline – supports nervous system development
  • Vitamins B6 & B12 – helps maintain brain function and gives energy
  • Phosphorus – helps build bones and teeth
  • Zinc – helps maintain a healthy immune system
  • Niacin – supports energy production and metabolism
  • Riboflavin – helps convert food into fuel
  • Selenium – helps protect cells from damage

One 3-ounce cooked serving of beef provides approximately 50% of your Daily Value (25 grams) of this important nutrient—making it an excellent source! Protein helps maintain a healthy weight, as well as preserve and build muscle.

New research suggests it’s not only important to just get enough protein in at dinner or lunch but to spread it throughout your day for optimal health. Aim for 25-30 grams of protein at each meal.


Does this lasagna recipe freeze well?

There is no reason to feel like you need to finish this meal in one night. This is a prime dish to freeze and heat back up on a future date. You may have already tried some of my other freezer friendly recipes like my Beef & Barley Soup, Freezer Oatmeal Cups, or Zucchini Carrot Fritters. Add this beef and vegetable lasagna to the list for nights when you have less time to prepare a meal for dinner.

How long can I freeze lasagna?

For the best results, freeze lasagna after it has been assembled but before it’s been baked. Freezing food this way will help maintain the lasagna’s cheese and noodle texture and prevent it from getting soggy.

If you’ve already baked your lasagna, don’t worry; it can still be frozen! The texture may be a little different than freshly baked.

If properly stored, it will maintain best quality for about 2 to 3 months but will remain safe beyond that time.

How do I reheat lasagna?

When you’re ready to use your frozen lasagna, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it defrost overnight. Then, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes while your oven preheats to 375°.

Remove the lasagna’s freezer wrappings, cover the top with new foil and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until heated through (a thermometer inserted in the center should read 165°). Remove the foil and bake the lasagna for 10 more minutes or until browned on the top. Pull the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for another 10 minutes before slicing into it.

Why are Family Meals Important?

It is easy to get caught up in after school activities or with work assignments which can take away from sit down meals with the family. But family meals are important for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Regular family meals are linked to higher grades and self-esteem
  • Adults and children who eat at home more regularly are less likely to suffer from obesity
  • Family meals nourish the spirit, brain, and health of all family members.

Make it a Family Affair:

Another aspect that I love about this meal is that it is easy enough so that the whole family can participate in creating this dish.

This recipe is coming right in time to celebrate National Family Meals Month. This initiative is a nationwide event which encourages families to have at least one meal at home per week.

What if I have a picky eater?

No one wants to be a short order cook preparing separate meals for each family member. When introducing new foods or new recipes, start with what I like to call lateral shifts. Meaning, start with something they are familiar with – for instance traditional beef lasagna. Adding vegetables won’t drastically change the original, it just adds a new flair. Understanding your family’s preferences is also key. Knowing that if they see the vegetables is going to cause resistance, chop them finer or even puree them into the sauce. The more exposure to new lateral shift type meals, can be helpful.

What You will Need to Create this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

For the filling:
93% lean ground beef
Olive oil
Yellow onion
Baby spinach

For the tomato sauce:
Olive oil
Crushed tomatoes
Fresh basil
Crushed red pepper flakes

Don’t feel like making your own sauce? No worries! Substitute with 2 cups of your favorite prepared marinara sauce.

Remaining ingredients:
Ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning
Black pepper
No-boil lasagna noodles (see notes in the recipe)

How to make this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

Preheat your oven and coat a deep baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the ground beef, then remove from the pan. Using the same pan (because who wants to wash more dishes), cook the vegetables. Add beef back in and set aside.

Make the sauce by gently sautéing the garlic (we don’t want it to burn, then add the remaining sauce ingredients to simmer and allow flavors to develop.

Mix the ricotta cheese and some of the parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. Add a beaten egg (this will help hold the cheese mixture together and not seep out of the lasagna). Season with Italian herbs, salt, and pepper.

To assemble, start with adding a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then layer in the order, noodles, ricotta mixture, beef & veggie mixture, sauce, and sprinkle cheese. Top with more lasagna noodles and repeat.

Wrap in parchment paper and bake!

Recipe Shortcuts:

  • To cut down on prep time, buy pre-sliced mushrooms, & frozen diced onions, zucchini, and spinach. (Just be mindful when swapping out with frozen to drain excess liquid when cooking)
  • Skip making your own sauce and use your favorite jarred variety.
  • Freeze in individual servings for pre-portioned leftovers instead of defrosting the whole dish.
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Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: Italian


Lasagna is such an underrated dinner. Maybe, it is because when most people think of lasagna, the thought of having to assemble this meal detours many. Adding a little twist on a classic, try this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna.



For the filling:
1-pound 93% lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 (8 ounce) container sliced mushrooms
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup zucchini, chopped into a small dice
1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped

Tomato sauce*:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade (ribbon like slices) + additional for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less as desired

Remaining ingredients:
2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
9 no-boil lasagna noodles*


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9×13-inch deep baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add ground beef breaking apart into small crumbles. Cook until meat has browned, no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Remove beef from the pan, drain any excess fat from the beef and set beef aside.
  3. Return skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil. Sauté onions and mushrooms until tender. During the cooking process add salt to help draw out excess moisture. Once excess moisture has evaporated, add the zucchini, and continue to cook until tender. Add spinach and continue to cook until wilted and excess moisture has evaporated. Add beef back to the veggie mixture, stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium pot add olive oil over low heat. Sauté garlic for about 1 minute or until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, basil, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer to allow the flavors to come together.
  5. In a medium bowl, add the ricotta, ¼ cup parmesan, 3/4 cup mozzarella, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix well until combined.
  6. To assemble: Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a baking dish. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top (snap off their ends to fit, and/or overlap their edges as necessary). Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with half the beef & veggie mixture. Then spread 1 cup tomato sauce on top and sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Top with 3 more lasagna noodles and repeat the previous order. Then top with remaining 3 lasagna noodles, remaining sauce and sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.
  7. Wrap a sheet of parchment paper or foil around the top of the lasagna (not letting it touch the cheese). Bake, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180° and continue cooking for about 10 to 12 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbling on the sides.
  8. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes, so it has time to set and cool down to a reasonable temperature. Sprinkle additional basil over the top, then slice and serve. Top with additional sauce or cheese, as desired.


  • Looking to save a step? Substitute the tomato sauce with 2 cups of prepared marinara sauce.
  • At the grocery store I see lasagna noodles as “no-boil” or “oven-ready” lasagna sheets. Read package directions as some brands need additional liquid.
  • Can’t find no boil or oven-ready lasagna noodles? Buy regular lasagna noodles, cook according to package directions, and use the same way. Cook time may decrease.

Keywords: lasagna, beef lasagna, family meal, dinner recipe, easy dinner

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Paddon-Jones D, Rasmussen BB. Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:86-90

Mamerow MM, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr 2014;144:876-80