Matthew David Parker’s 5 Favorite Healthy Recipes

Matthew David Parker’s favorite five healthy recipes are influenced by his time in Texas, at the University of Houston and in San Marcos, Texas.

1. BBQ Chicken Salad

This is a great dish for a weeknight or a dish to bring to lunch. The BBQ Ranch sauce is terrific and adds just a touch of sweetness. This serves two as a side or one as a main dish.


  • 1 grilled chicken breast
  • 3 cups chopped romaine
  • 2 chopped Roma tomatoes
  • 1 ear corn, husk on
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cliantro
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup black beans, cooked and rinsed (canned are fine)
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

Grill your chicken, or slice up your prepared chicken breast. Soak the corn in water for about 10 minutes. Toss it on the grill and grill on high for about 3 minutes a side. Remove and let cool, then slice the kernels off. Mix all your toppings together with the lettuce and stir the ranch and BBQ sauce together. Top with chicken and your BBQ ranch dressing. Sprinkle the cilantro on top. You can include shredded cheese, sour cream, or salsa too.

2. Texas Tailgate Chili

This is a lighter version of the classic Texas chili.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 seeded and chopped jalopeno pepper (if you like it spicy)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar low-sodium salsa

Brown the ground beef in your chili pot, then drain off the fat. Mix in your spices. Cook your onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are transparent. Add the canned tomatoes and salsa and cook until they start to fall apart. Add the beans and allow the chili to simmer on low for about 20 minutes. You can top this chili with all kinds of things like cilantro, cheese, sour cream, or tortilla chips.

3. Texas Caviar

Don’t be alarmed; this isn’t any “caviar” that you’ve ever heard of! This side dish is a favorite at picnics and barbecues all over Texas. It is essentially a bean salad that is eaten as a dip with vegetables or tortilla chips.


  • 2 15 ounce cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Just chop and mix it all together. This is a fun side dish, appetizer or it can be used as a garnish on chicken or grilled vegetables. It’s also a great base for a vegetarian taco.

4. Healthy Enchiladas

Enchiladas are the epitome of Tex-Mex food. However, they can be high in fat and sodium. This version makes them more heart friendly. The plus is, they’re still tasty.


  • 16 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 28 ounce can of red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups of grated Queso Blanco cheese
  • 1 1/2 cooked, shredded beef or pork

Traditionally, tortillas for enchiladas are dipped in oil before being stuffed and laid in the baking dish. In this lighter recipe, you’ll put a few tablespoons of water in a skillet and steam the whole wheat tortillas. Fill them with cheese and shredded meat, then roll them up. Be sure to reserve half your cheese for the top. After you’ve rolled them all, cover with the red sauce, top with cheese, and bake in pre-heated 400-degree oven for about 25 minutes.

5. Healthy Texas Sheet Cake

This made-over version of the classic Texas Sheet Cake is fantastic. The cake gets the soft texture right, and the icing is spot on. Together they combine to create one of my favorite Texas recipes of all time. This Texas Sheet Cake isn’t something you’ll have to feel bad about eating.

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