December 31, 2021

Reader Favorites: Healthy Recipes from 2021

This year was an incredible year and it's all thanks to YOU! To celebrate, I've rounded up the top 10 healthy recipes from 2021 to help you kick off the new year on the right foot, including easy breakfasts, 30 minute dinners, and healthy desserts.

Wow. That's all I can say. 2021 was my second year as a food blogger and it was better than I could've ever hoped for. Not only did my photography improve drastically, but my knowledge of cooking, baking, and recipe development did as well. I feel so much more confident in the recipes and products I've published and so so excited for all that's coming!

Between my site analytics, Google analytics, and all the reviews you left on the blog, I've compiled a special roundup of the Top 10 Reader Favorite Healthy Recipes from 2021 so you can not only remember all the yummy food you made, but start the new year with healthy comfort foods. The new year means new goals, new habits, and new dreams. Let's start strong!

Below you'll find recipes from breakfast to dinner to dessert and everything in between. There's options for gluten-free and dairy-free diets, and every recipe is both nutritious AND delicious. Be sure to save your favorites to Pinterest by clicking on the Pinterest icon in each individual recipe or saving THIS blog post as a one-stop shop for your favorites!

As always, thank you for making Ka Pai Cooking possible. It's not only my creative outlet but my full time job and something that brings me so much joy. I hope you stick around for all the goodies I have planned for next year!

Healthy recipes from this year

I've ordered all the reader favorites ascending numerical order from #10 to #1, but if you want a quick overview, scroll back up to the table of contents and find your favorite from there!

A pan of Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

#10 - Incredible Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

I'm so glad these delicious enchiladas made the top 10! I got this recipe from my mother-in-law and made it my own with a few tweaks. It's the first (and only) recipe my husband made for me and it's still one of our family favorites. Each bite is a little sweet, a little spicy, and a little cheesy with 23g of fiber and 36g of protein per serving. You will LOVE them!

"I’ve made these every single week this month! My husband and I are OBSESSED. It’s super hard to find a healthy/good enchilada recipe (I’ve tried so many) and we love this one! Thanks for sharing it💓" -Lexie

A plate of Oven Baked Mac and Cheese

#9 - Easy Oven Baked Mac and Cheese

Ok, let me preface this by saying that I don't like mac and cheese. Weird, right? Well, even though that's the case, I decided to develop a recipe for it anyway. And, of course, I wanted to make it with more nutritious ingredients. Don't let that deter you though because this recipe is straight FIRE. Like I love serving it with grilled chicken and steamed broccoli and I'm converted to homemade mac and cheese! It's also easily gluten-free and incredibly creamy.

GUYS!! This Mac & Cheese is incredibly YUMMY! Even before baking it, it is just to die for! I had to step away to contain myself! Everything smelled so good while in the process. Also, I’ve made Mac & Cheeses before but they’ve all come out ‘too thick’ or not have the right “flavor.” BUT HOLY COW! Wow… just WOW. This is something I’ll be doing more of! Love this soo much!! As my husband said “yep. I’ve gone to heaven.” -Susie

A plate of BLT Chicken Ranch Casserole

#8 - BLT Chicken Ranch Casserole

I don't remember how I came up with the idea for this casserole, but when I went to test it I had all the ingredients typed out and just went with it. My husband and I took one bite and knew it was a winner! I also surprised him by admitting there were brussels sprouts and turkey bacon mixed in. He still loved it! It's a great option for low-carb or gluten-free diets and sneaking in some extra vegetables.

"My new favorite way to eat Brussel sprouts! I have two picky eaters under the age of 4 and they both loved it too! This was so flavorful, incredibly easy to make and I loved the great ingredients. Just started tracking macros and I was so pleasantly surprised how balanced this meal was. Amazing!" -Meagan

A bowl of instant pot White Chicken Chili with cheese, tortilla chips, jalapenos, and cilantro on top

#7 - Instant Pot Healthy White Chicken Chili

Holy. Cow. This might be my favorite recipe of the whole year! I reckon it would've made the top three if it had been published earlier in the year, but the fact that it made the top 10 in less than three months shows how amazing it is. My White Chicken Chili is super creamy, loaded with protein, and perfect for shoveling all your favorite toppings into your mouth. If my job wasn't to create new recipes every week, I'd definitely make this on repeat!

"By far the best recipe on this whole blog. I don’t even like soup but regularly request this meal. I’d give it six stars if I could!" -Tyler

A stack of chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

#6 - Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I finally nailed this recipe, I was SO excited. I wanted my cookies to be crispy on the edges but soft and chewy in the middle and that's exactly what these are. Better yet, they stay fresh for up to 5 days at room temperature and they're made with half as much sugar as other chocolate chip cookies! Sometimes my husband will ask for just the cookie dough it's THAT good. Be sure to add these cookies to your Sunday baking!

"I'M OBSESSED WITH THESE. I’m a chocolate chip cookie junkie but these have to be the best recipe I could find!" -Kenna

Homemade baked beans with turkey bacon, salt, and pepper

#5 - One Pot Healthy Homemade Baked Beans (sugar-free!)

I'll be honest, I never really had an opinion on baked beans growing up. They weren't a popular side dish at our family BBQs and they were always too sweet for me. But for some reason I wanted to try making them myself and guess what - I LOVED THEM. I might be a bit biased, but this recipe is ranked #3 on Google, so you tell me! I promise this will be your new favorite version! These homemade baked beans are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and made entirely in one pot.

A bowl of Loaded Baked Potato Soup with turkey bacon, green onions, and cheese

#4 - Easy Healthy Baked Potato Soup

What better way to welcome the cooler weather than a big bowl of this Loaded Baked Potato Soup? It's thick, it's creamy, and it's got all the toppings (turkey bacon, plain greek yogurt, cheese, green onions, black pepper). Oh, and before you make the actual soup, you saute the bacon, stems of green onions, and garlic all together in olive oil to infuse the soup with heavenly goodness. You have to try it!

A man holding a healthy breakfast burrito

#3 - The Ultimate Healthy Breakfast Burritos

If you love quick and easy breakfast recipes that double as healthy meal prep breakfasts, these breakfast burritos are for you! One recipe makes 16 burritos that can last up to one week in the fridge or three months in the freezer. Each burrito is macro-friendly, packed with protein, and loaded with flavor. Do yourself a favor and make these ASAP so you're ready to start the new year with a bang!

"I love that this recipe makes so many burritos at once and they're still good a few days later. They're the perfect breakfast after hitting the gym!" -Emma

A loaf of the best healthy chocolate chip banana bread cut into slices

#2 - The Best Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Although this wasn't a brand new recipe this year, my best healthy banana bread gained popularity quickly and it's easy to see why: there's no butter, sugar, or oil in the entire loaf and it's moist AF. It's also one of the highest rated recipes on the blog! Just check out the reviews below and make this banana bread ASAP!

"This was hands down the best banana bread I’ve ever had. Also my husband couldn’t believe it didn’t have any sugar butter or oil in it! I will be making this every week now." -Kenna

"This healthy banana bread is a new family favorite. We loved it so much; we made it two days in a row! I love that it’s oil free and only sweetened with honey. Do yourself a favor and make it! You’ll love it!" -Karie

"Soft and delicious banana bread. Plus I can appreciate it being oil/butter/refined sugar-free without sacrificing flavor!" -Sophie

Turkey kielbasa sausage, red potatoes, and broccoli all roasted together on a sheet pan

#1  - The Best Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies

Comin' in hot at number one, this sheet pan meal literally went viral on both Instagram and Pinterest in just a few days! Not only was it the favorite Ka Pai Cooking recipe for the whole year, it's now the highest rated recipe on the blog too! Whenever I need a quick, healthy, last-minute recipe, this is always my go-to.

Here's why we love it: it's macro-friendly, it's naturally gluten-free/dairy-free, it's a one dish recipe, you can serve it as is or with your favorite grain (we always do quinoa!), it's perfect for meal prepping, and you can season it however you like (we switch it up every time). Wow that was a mouthful, but seriously there's a reason it was the best of the healthy recipes from 2021!

"The perfect dinner for when you’ve got a busy day and need something quick! I love that you can throw in any veggie you want with it too! Tastes good with any combo! Fills you up & is oh so tasty!" -Tailer

"Holy cow this is a WEEKLY staple! Sooo good and so easy to mix other vegetables in!" -Sarah

"This meal is SO good! We make this more than y’all know. It’s good for dinner, lunch and maybe even breakfast haha. But for sure our favorite and our easy go to meal, so easy that I feel so on top of the world after a long day of work, feeding and taking care of our 4 month old, pup and our house!! LOVE THIS!" -Susie

"Seriously the easiest and yummiest recipe ever! Feeds the whole family and only takes a little bit of time to make. Definitely recommend 🙂" -Olivia


Sooooo I have to know! Which of these healthy recipes from 2021 have you made?! Which ones are you going to try? I promise you'll love all of them. I can't wait to see what you choose!

Be sure to leave a comment below of your favorite recipe and subscribe to my mailing list to stay updated for all the new recipes in 2022!

This year was an incredible year and it's all thanks to YOU! To celebrate, I've rounded up the top 10 healthy recipes from 2021 to help you kick off the new year on the right foot, including easy breakfasts, 30 minute dinners, and healthy desserts.


Brooke Harmer








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