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The Top Healthy Recipes from 2021

2021 is officially coming to a close, and like any good food blogger out there, it’s time for me to put together a roundup.

But I don’t just want to share with you the recipes that have gotten the most shares or views over the past year, I want to show you my favorite recipes.

To do that, I’m going to share with you my favorite recipe from every month throughout 2021. It’s very hard to choose just one, but I was able to pick the recipes that I think stand tallest amongst them all.

I have plenty of honorable mentions as well, so I will include my “Almost Top Ten” recipes at the bottom of this post to highlight some of my favorites that just missed the cut.

These healthy recipes are a collection of all of my favorites, regardless of which nutritional boxes they may or may not check. You’ll find dessert recipes, dinner recipes, low-carb recipes, high-protein recipes, and everything in between.

We’ll start with my favorite recipe from January 2021 and work our way through the year…

Healthier Air Fryer Donut Holes

We started the year off strong with these Healthier Air Fryer Donut Holes, which have held up as one of my favorite recipes of the entire year. It just so happens that this was the most popular recipe on my blog as well, so clearly I am not alone in loving this recipe.

Since developing those healthy donut holes, I also came up with Healthier Chocolate Donut Holes and Air Fryer Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes, so depending on your taste preferences, there’s a donut hole recipe for ya.

 Easy microwave chocolate fudge

My Easy Chocolate Fudge can be made with nothing but a microwave and a little bit of mixing, but don’t let that simplicity trick you into thinking this doesn’t taste just like soft, decadent fudge.

Traditional fudge is very high in sugar, fat, and calories, so this version is a welcomed change! You can also get creative with the flavors if chocolate isn’t your favorite, which is what I did with the Microwave Cookies and Cream Fudge recipe.

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Sandwich

If you’re looking for something savory, look no further than my Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which will rival any fast-food chicken sandwich out there. This chicken sandwich is easily the recipe I made most often throughout 2021, because it is absolutely delicious.

Using lean chicken breast and an air fryer to achieve an insane amount of crunch, this crispy chicken sandwich is sneakily healthy with only 485 calories and 46g of protein!

Healthy BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich may be my favorite sandwich recipe on the blog, but this Healthy Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork is a very close second. Paired with the healthy coleslaw recipe it contains, you’ve got yourself a real winner.

This also happens to be one of the easier recipes you’ll come across! Just throw everything into a slow cooker and let the magic happen. If you need an easy game day recipe, this is definitely it.

And you’re not limited to pulled pork sandwiches, either. Make yourself some tacos, pulled pork mac & cheese, omelets, or anything else you can think up.

Delicious Protein Bagel Recipe

These Protein Bagels are quickly rising to the top of the list as everyone’s favorite recipe, and for good reason.

It may appear daunting to make bagels from scratch, but these protein bagels don’t require any yeast, so you can whip up a batch completely from scratch in under 30 minutes!

And the best part? Each bagel contains 19g of protein! Give up those protein bars and just snack on these bagels instead.

Crispy Protein Churro Donuts

These Crispy Protein Churro Donuts are light & fluffy, but with a crispy cinnamon sugar exterior. The texture is exactly what you’d expect from a churro, but we accomplish that without any deep-frying! All you need is an air fryer to give these donuts the crisp we are after.

Plus, each donut is only 100 calories with a generous 6g of protein.

Healthy Strawberry Shortcake Bars

I’ll admit that these Healthy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars aren’t quite as good as the Good Humor bars you’d buy from the ice cream truck, but they are shockingly close.

As long as you have a blender, you’ll be able to whip up a batch of these delicious bars, each with only 135 calories and packed with ACTUAL strawberries.

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

While definitely not my “healthiest” recipe on the blog, these 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies are easily one of the most delicious.

As the title implies, you only need 4 simple ingredients to make these cookies: peanut butter, Nutella, unsweetened applesauce, and baking soda.

While not healthy by many definitions of the word, these cookies still only contain 85 calories each, and the 3g of protein per cookie is not too shabby, either.

But once you take one bite of these soft, chocolatey cookies, any worries about the nutrition will go right out the window.

Air fryer pita chips

If you’re in need of an easy appetizer, these Easy Air Fryer Pita Chips will not disappoint. The inspiration for these pita chips came from a local restaurant, as the pita chips they serve are one of my favorite appetizers out there.

These aren’t super crunchy like pita chips you’d buy from a bag (see my Bagel Chips recipe if that is what you’re after), but rather these pita chips have a crisp on the outside and remain soft and fluffy on the inside.

Imagine taking a nice thick pita and flash-frying it in the deep fryer, then generously topping it with seasoning. That’s what we have here, but without needing to mess with any oil.

Half pound chocolate protein cookie

This Half Pound Chocolate Protein Cookie is definitely the biggest dessert on my blog, but don’t go thinking that it’s all for show. This giant chocolatey cookie will please any fan of chocolate cookies.

Not only is it soft and gooey on the inside, but this giant cookie has 50 grams of protein in it!

You certainly don’t have to eat the entire cookie in one sitting, but I won’t judge you if you do.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

My Healthy No-Churn Soft Serve Ice Cream is still my favorite recipe of all time on my blog, but it wasn’t created in 2021, so it doesn’t fit the bill for this list.

Instead, I’m choosing this Healthy Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream as my favorite this year! This ice cream makes an incredible Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, or you can leave it in the freezer for a bit longer to become scoopable ice cream.

And while this makes for a great Fall treat, I’m a firm believer that ice cream is an appropriate dessert any time of the year, so whip this up whenever your heart desires.

Air Fryer Bavarian Pretzel

This Easy Bavarian Pretzel Recipe is one of the newest additions to my blog, but this is not recency bias. In fact, this pretzel is firmly in my top 5 recipes of all time!

If you’re a fan of buttery soft pretzels, this large Bavarian pretzel will not disappoint. Even better, it’s made with no yeast: just a simple Greek yogurt + self-rising flour mixture is all you need to make these incredible pretzels!


The Almost-Top-Ten (My Honorable Mentions)

It was truly difficult to choose 12 recipes from the entire year, as I created quite a few recipes that I really enjoy. So, here are 10 additional recipes that could have easily made the list (in no particular order):

  1. Healthy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
  2. 6oz Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie With 30g of Protein
  3. High-Protein Oreo Sushi Roll
  4. Air Fryer Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes
  5. Protein Apple Cider Donuts
  6. Low-Calorie Fudgsicles
  7. Stuffed No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites
  8. 3-Ingredient Cake Mix Protein Pancakes
  9. Healthy Everything Bagel Pull-Apart Bread
  10. Maple Bacon French Toast Casserole

I’ve got big plans for recipe creation in 2022, and you’ll be seeing more recipes than ever before this coming year!

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About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More