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Finding It Difficult to Maintain a Healthy Diet?

10 April 2020
A cutting board in a kitchen surrounded by vegetables

By: Gretchen Adams, RDN for the YMCA of Greater Dayton

In uncertain times, people learn from a young age to turn to comfort. Whether physically by resting more, the music and movies they entertain with, or in the types of food they choose. Food is love. Food can be the difference in a good or bad day. For this reason, it is natural to turn toward foods you are perhaps nostalgic to, or have always looked to in crisis.

Unfortunately, during this pandemic we are not only asked to isolate ourselves, but we also have had places to be active and places that keep us motivated put on hold. Without enough of our own motivation, these circumstances can have you feeling run down, out of sorts and frankly seeking high-sugar, high-fat foods.

To help keep you engaged in fitness and good, wholesome nutrition take a look at these fresh, and easy to assemble meals backed by our very own registered dietitian nutritionist. Also, be sure to check out our [input YMCA landing page for virtual fitness resources] for all things home fitness.


Sun Dried Tomato, Kale, and White Bean Skillet

Recipe from:

Not only is this recipe a breeze to prepare, it is also packed with nutrition, and made using very shelf stable or freezer friendly ingredients. Add a whole grain source to round out this meal, like brown rice, quinoa, or a slice of sourdough bread.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


2 15oz. cans cannellini beans, drained
1/2 7oz. jar sun dried tomatoes in oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt to taste freshly cracked pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. fresh kale, chopped


1. Drain and rinse the white beans. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes. In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp of the oil from the jar of sun dried tomatoes with the apple cider vinegar, basil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Set the dressing aside.

2. Add the olive oil and minced garlic to a large skillet. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for one minute, or just until it begins to soften and becomes fragrant.

3. Add the chopped kale and 2 Tbsp water to the skillet. Stir and cook over medium heat until the kale has wilted. 

4. Add the drained beans and chopped sun dried tomatoes to the skillet with the kale. Continue to stir and cook until the beans are heated through. Lastly, drizzle the dressing over the skillet and stir to combine, and add salt to taste. Serve warm.



Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Recipe from:

For an easy clean up night, this is your dinner. For added protein, try strips of chicken on top or include ground turkey to the black bean mixture. Also great is that each sweet potato is a portion. How easy is that!           

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 4

4 medium- large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/2 of a medium red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup diced)
1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

For Serving:
1/2 an avocado, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the sweet potatoes on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a fork can easily be inserted into the flesh of the potatoes.

3. Prepare the cream sauce by whisking together the plain greek yogurt, lime juice, and black pepper. Set aside.

4. When the sweet potatoes have about 10 minutes left, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and then add in onion. Saute for 5 minutes until the onions begins to become translucent. 5. Add in the spices stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

6. Add the black beans to the skillet and toss to combine. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the black beans are fully heated through. About 5 minutes. Take off of heat and set aside.

7. Once the sweet potatoes are done baking, let cool slightly. Once cool, cut the sweet potatoes open and shred the flesh from the skin so that the inside is mashed and easy to scoop out.

8. Evenly spread the black bean mixture, avocado, cilantro, and cashew crema sauce on top of the 4 sweet potatoes.

9. Serve immediately and enjoy!



Purple Power Slaw with Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette

Recipe from:

It is rare to come across a vinegar based slaw, until now! Vinegar based slaws are all about the crunch, crisp veggies and bold flavors that come from vinegar and other tangy ingredients like reduced-sodium soy sauce. To round it out, there is a little sweetness from honey to balance the overall kick. If you haven’t subbed the mayo out for vinegar, now is your time!

Total time: 35 min
Servings: 8

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1 large purple carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small purple daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, divided
4 tbsp sliced scallions, divided
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds


  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, tamari (or soy sauce), honey, ginger, garlic and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add cabbage, carrot, daikon and 3 tablespoons each cilantro and scallions; toss to coat.
  3. Serve the slaw topped with sesame seeds and the remaining 1 tablespoon each cilantro and scallions.