Tips Easy and Healthy Dinner Ideas

ei1c12_penne_pesto.jpg.rend.sni18colDinner time can often mean getting home late, looking in the fridge, seeing not a single eatable thing, and heading out for dinner instead. Although once a week this isn’t a big deal, nightly starts to get a bit expensive and unhealthy. And then when being unhealthy costs you even more money, you really have to start asking yourself what you’re doing. The nice thing is, that with a little planning and a trip to the grocery store, you can avoid all of this.

I want to challenge you to have meals planned ahead of time and groceries ready and waiting to make those meals. It could take you the same time as driving to the fast food joint, taste better, help you feel better, and move you to movie star status with your spouse or children. First lets look at some meal ideas.

Pasta is a great way to make something quick and really delicious. I like to recommend veggie noodles due to the extra serving of vegetables you get. Now you can really do whatever you feel like with the pasta. You can use chicken, seafood, or just veggies. You can add cheese or not. You can make a creamy sauce with a little cream or not. It’s all really up to you. I like to do a little butter, a minced clove of garlic, zucchini, shrimp, and some tomatoes and Parmesan at the very end. Its fresh, so good, and super fast. I’m going to make a wager that even your picky eaters might enjoy the veggies.

Another really easy evening meal is Mexican food. With a little ground beef (browned), a can of chili beans, and some chili powder or taco seasoning, you can make a few different dishes. You can use this meat with salad, sour cream, avocado, and cheese for an awesome Mexican salad. Or you can make soft tacos or nachos. You could even make a beef quesadilla. If you add a can of diced tomatoes, a bit more chili powder and a dash of cloves you could have a nice bowl of chili. All of these meals will please the taste buds, and any leftovers can be frozen for a rainy day.

It wouldn’t be a good “easy dinner list” without at least one crock pot idea, so here it is! If you need an easy chicken meal or two, this one is sure to please and is really flexible to what you want. First place some raw chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker. Season with some salt and pepper as a minimum. I like to add onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and/or some taco seasoning. Next dump a can of black beans (drained), a can of corn (drained), and a jar of salsa. Put on low for 7 to 8 hours. When you get home, simply shred the chicken and enjoy as tacos, nachos, enchiladas, a salad, or as is. If you want a more soup-like consistency, add a cup of chicken broth in the morning. You will end up with a tortilla soup.

If you want a more plain shredded chicken, just cook the chicken in 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Season well. With that, you could then add barbeque sauce and pinto beans. Or you could serve it with lemon pepper, veggies, and rice. Or perhaps you want to add some buffalo style sauce and serve with carrots and celery. With a plain base, the shredded chicken can really become whatever you want it to be.

Hopefully you’ve gained a few ideas for your dinner process. I highly recommend creating a menu on the weekend and doing all of your shopping. Then when a busy week hits you are prepared and you have a plan. I know you’ll feel better and you might even drop a few pounds! Good luck and happy eating.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Maple Butter

Equal parts maple syrup and butter with a little chopped fresh basil stirred in makes one of the simplest, tastiest toppings for a variety of dishes – pork chops, chicken, salmon, or sweet potatoes, as here. The preparation is easy but the result is a deliciously rich, silky drizzle to complement the savory, slightly spicy roasted potatoes.

It’s a simple side fit for a casual, everyday meal or an elegant holiday dinner.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium-large sweet potatoes (5 to 6 inches long, about 2-1/2 lbs), peeled
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Line a large, shallow baking pan with parchment paper. (The potatoes may stick to aluminum foil. If you use foil, rub it with oil before adding the potatoes.)
  3. Combine the first 5 ingredients (through cayenne) in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut the peeled sweet potatoes in half crosswise. Cut each half into 8 wedges, about 1/2-inch thick each.
  5. Place the wedges in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
  6. Sprinkle the spice rub over the potatoes and toss well (or rub with your fingers) to coat thoroughly.
  7. Spread the potatoes in an even layer on the prepared pan.
  8. Roast until tender and slightly charred, 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  9. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over low heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  10. Cover and cook gently 3-4 minutes until hot and beginning to bubble. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

To serve, place the sweet potato wedges in a serving bowl and drizzle with the maple-butter sauce. Or, divide among 6 plates and pass the sauce at the table.