Easiest Way to Cook a Healthy Dinner
http://www.vidanutrition.com/easy-healthy-dinner/The work day is over, you’re beat, and your stomach is growling at you. You don’t even want to think about “what’s for dinner?” People sometimes think because I am a dietitian-nutritionist that at the end of the day I zip into the kitchen and whip up an ultra-healthy dinner for the family every night.
Newsflash! Being a nutritionist doesn’t exempt me from exhaustion, stress, or a never ending to-do list. My solution, is finding things that are super easy to prepare and take little thought (because my brain ceases to function at the end of the day).
I do try to plan out a shopping list and stick to what I’ve planned. At least 1-2 nights a week, I default to my “never the same thing twice” skillet meal. What I mean by that is I throw together whatever I can find but make sure I get in some protein, healthy fats, healthy carbs and plenty of veggies. It is never the exact same combination twice.
How to Make a DIY Skillet Meal
First, choose your ingredients. Start by choosing 1 portion from each of the following food lists. You can combine different selections from each group. For example, you can split the veggie portion between different types of veggies. Note: In the amounts listed, most of these will feed a family of 4. You can adjust the portions to meet the needs and size of your family. Just keep the ratio of ingredients about the same.
Protein- 1 pound
- Ground turkey/beef (90/10 or less)
- Boneless skinless chicken breast
- Canned tuna
- Steak strips
- Meatballs (made w/ lean beef/turkey)
- Eggs (preferably a high omega-3 egg)
- Chicken/turkey sausage
- Tofu or other vegetarian meat alternative
- Skip the protein & add a little extra of the other ingredients
Carb- 3-4 Cups
- 100% whole grain penne or rotini pasta
- Brown rice/quinoa/couscous/barley
- Potatoes; sweet, red skinned, or regular
- Beans, any type
Fat- serving as listed
- Olive/canola oil, 3-4 Tbsp
- Avocado, ¼- ½ small avocado per person
- Nuts- ½ cup
- Cheese/cream- choose less often & in moderation
Sauce/seasoning- as needed, being mindful of sodium
- Dry seasoning blend/herbs
- Spaghetti/marinara sauce
- Pesto sauce (also contains fat)
- Marinade/sauce (may contain fat)
Veggies- 6-8 Cups
- Any fresh non-starchy veggie
- Any frozen non starchy veggie
Second, follow these Basic Directions:
- Start cooking the carb 1st as it may need time to cook.
- Heat the oil in a skillet, or use an oil mist.
- Cook the protein in the skillet w/ any seasonings, herbs, garlic, etc.
- When the carb is ready add it to the skillet (optional to keep the carb on the side)
- Stir in veggies & additional sauce/seasoning and cook until veggies are desired texture.
8 Healthy & Delicious Skillet Meal Combinations:
- Southwest Skillet Meal: Ground turkey + beans & quinoa/rice + jar of salsa + carrots & onion and avocado on the side
- Tortellini Pesto: Cubed chicken breast + tortellini + pesto sauce + California blend veggies
- Parmesan & Shrimp: Shrimp + penne pasta + olive oil + garlic (fresh or powder) + fresh parmesan + mushrooms & broccoli
- Fajitas: Chicken/beef strips + fajita seasoning + peppers & onions + avocado on the side + corn tortillas to hold the meat & veggies
- Turkey Potato Surprise: Ground turkey + olive oil + chopped potatoes (cook in microwave until 75% done before chopping) + frozen green beans + a mix of light salt, pepper, garlic powder & onion powder
- Healthy Stir-Fry: Shrimp or cubed chicken + olive oil and/or almonds + stir-fry blend veggies + rice on the side or mixed in
- Skillet Spaghetti: Ground turkey/beef + rotini/penne pasta + spaghetti sauce + mushrooms & zucchini + olive oil or cheese
- Healthier Tuna Helper: Canned tuna +100% whole wheat noodles + cream of mushroom soup (preferably reduced-fat/reduced sodium) + chopped celery, onions & carrots + a small salad on the side for more veggies
- Breakfast for Dinner: 1/2 pound chicken sausage & 6 eggs + diced potatoes + mushrooms, peppers & onions + shredded cheese on top &/or sliced avocado on the side