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It can be hard to figure out what to cook for dinner every night, let alone come up with ideas for healthy dinners that you’re excited to eat. Wouldn’t it be easier to just heat up a frozen pizza?
Yes, but the good news is that eating healthy doesn’t have to be all that hard. Read on for plenty of recipes for healthy cooking that’ll fill you up with delicious and nutritious fuel.
Try Meat Alternatives
More and more, science is finding that meat, especially red meat, isn’t great for you, notably increasing your risk of heart disease. The good news is, avoiding meat for your health is becoming easier than ever with plenty of meat alternatives that will help you create hearty vegetarian meals.
This unique tropical fruit doesn’t have a ton of flavor on its own, but it has a meaty texture and absorbs the flavors in your cooking, similar to chicken. Plus, it’s low in calories and packed full of fiber, so it’s great for eating healthy.
You can typically find it in the canned goods section of the grocery store—you’ll want to get the young jackfruit, not ripe jackfruit, which is too sweet for most savory recipes. Drain the brine from the can, shred the jackfruit with your hands, and then use it in almost any recipe where you’d use shredded meat.
- Easy jackfruit “chicken” quinoa bowls
- Vegan jackfruit tacos
- Healthy jackfruit curry
- Vegan gyros with crispy jackfruit
Tofu and Tempeh
Tofu and tempeh have long been a popular choice for vegetarian meals, since they offer plenty of protein just like meat and can work with a lot of different cuisines depending on your mood. Not sure what the difference is? While they are both made from soy, tofu is more neutral in texture and flavor, while tempeh has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. Both are easy to find at the market and have a place in healthy cooking, so just search for recipes that catch your eye!
- Thai tempeh stuffed sweet potatoes
- Tofu, cucumber, and carrot lettuce wraps with peanut dipping sauce
- Blackened tempeh with avocado, kale, and vegan cajun ranch
- Magic garlicky tofu stir fry
- Vegan tostadas with smoky tempeh and mango slaw
- Roasted broccoli and tofu with creamy miso dressing
The marvels of food science have led to a flurry of companies recently creating shockingly believable meat alternatives—Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Lightlife Foods, to name a few. You can typically buy these in multiple forms, from burgers and sausages to ground “meat.” For the most part, you can slot these in for beef, pork, or lamb in any recipe, but it can be good to find recipes specifically developed with the products in mind to ensure your healthy food is also delicious.
Create Your Own Healthy Meals!
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Cook Low Carb
If you’ve been feeling like eating carbs—like rice, pasta, and bread—is weighing you down, or you’re going gluten-free for health or allergy reasons, you’ll want to be on the lookout for healthy recipes that are low carb. The good news? With these dishes, you’ll never have to skimp on taste.
Cauliflower Rice & More
Who knew cauliflower would become this hot? This relatively bland veg has had a resurgence as a carb alternative for everything from rice to gnocchi to pizza crusts and so much more. Look at your local grocery store for pre-prepared cauliflower products, or make your own by throwing chopped cauliflower florets in a blender or food processor until crumbly.
- Cauliflower couscous bowl
- Cauliflower fried rice
- Creamy cauliflower gnocchi
- Spinach and chicken cauliflower pizza
Zoodles and Other Spiralized Veggies
Meanwhile, a popular way to replace pasta is with spiralized veggies like zoodles, squoodles, and all other manner of coiled veggie noodles. You can spiralize all kinds of vegetables—some favorites are zucchini, sweet potato, beets, and cucumbers, just to name a few—and can either do it yourself with a spiralizer machine or buy pre-prepared veggie noodles at many grocery stores. Some you can eat raw, while others you may prefer to lightly sauté before adding to your recipe.
- Sweet potato noodles with garlic and kale
- Spiralized zucchini caprese salad
- Grilled tahini glazed salmon with cucumber noodles
- Zucchini pad thai
- Chicken with ginger beet noodles
- Spiralized vegetable noodle soup
Sheet Pan Meals
Roasted sheet pan meals are a great choice for easy, healthy dinner ideas, allowing you to pack a lot of protein and veggies onto one pan, without the need for carby additions to bulk it up. Some recipes will suggest serving the dish with rice or another grain, but you could replace it with sauteed greens or cauliflower rice instead—or skip the sides entirely for low-carb, healthy recipes.
- Sheet pan chicken with rainbow vegetables
- Mediterranean sheet pan dinner
- Easy sheet pan greens and beans
- Tarragon chicken or tofu with asparagus, lemon, and leeks
Aim for Veggie-Heavy Clean Eating
Writer Michael Pollan came up with the perfect clean eating mantra: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. The whole idea behind clean eating is to avoid processed food as much as possible and pack your plate with a variety of veggies. Here are some ideas for clean, vegetarian meals that’ll keep you coming back for more.
Grain bowls—sometimes called Buddha bowls—are versatile and easy healthy dinner ideas. They can be adapted to whatever you’re craving or have in your fridge, are a great way to pack in a lot of different veggies, and—especially if you use nutrient-dense whole grains—are great for eating healthy.
- Build-your-own Buddha bowl
- Greek grain bowls
- Roasted veggie grain bowl
- Crispy miso chickpea bowls with garlic sesame dressing
- Cozy autumn grain bowls
Hearty Dinner Salads
Salads are often the healthy food of choice for lunch, but by dinner you may be hankering for something heartier. It’s time to rethink that! Salad is still one of the best ideas for healthy dinner—and with a little added protein, like a small amount of meat or cheese or some whole grains—you can still feel full while eating healthy. You could even try your hand at creating an edible garden to add home-grown edible plants or microgreens to your healthy recipes!
- Spicy cabbage salad with turkey and peanuts
- Easy niçoise salad
- Vegan roasted sweet potato salad
- Grilled mushroom antipasto salad
- Warm farro salad with roasted root vegetables
Beans and lentils have blown up in popularity in recent years for a reason: They’re high in plant protein, they’re low in fat, and they’re packed with plenty of other good-for-you nutrients. You can buy them pre-cooked and canned if you’re in a hurry or cook them from dry if you want more options in your bean varieties (like from the growing heirloom bean market). Plus, they can be used in all kinds of healthy recipes.
- Spiced chickpeas and greens frittata
- Vegetarian black bean enchiladas
- Just-keeps-getting-better lentil salad
- Roast fish with cannellini beans and green olives
- Three-bean healthy chili
- Coconut kidney bean curry
Grow Your Own Healthy Food!
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