Healthy Dinner Menu Ideas

Making healthy dinners that are flavorful and family-friendly is easier than you may think. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming undertaking, either. Think in terms of simplicity, color and variety, and use foods that are in season. Stock up on a few items that will make healthy dinner preparation quick and easy, such as canned beans, frozen vegetables, shredded cheese, pasta and canned tomatoes.

Pasta

A four-cheese baked pasta dish definitely sounds tasty, but it can also be healthful. Use the right ingredients and serve proper portions, recommends Ellie Krieger, R.D., host of Food Network’s “Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger.” Her recipe calls for whole-wheat penne pasta, and the four cheeses include small-curd low-fat cottage cheese, part-skim ricotta cheese, part-skim mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese. Other ingredients include herbs, spices and canned tomatoes. This one-dish casserole recipe pairs well with a large salad.

Another tasty dish can be made by cooking a pound of whole-wheat pasta and adding one bag of mixed frozen vegetables to the pasta during the last three minutes of cooking time. Drain and toss with a reduced-fat ginger-sesame salad dressing and two cups cooked diced chicken or shrimp.

Grilled Chicken

Grilling is a low-fat, heart-healthy cooking method. You can grill just about main dish, whether beef, chicken or fish. The Eating Well website recommends buying chicken tenders to grill. Make your own marinade with lime juice, reduced-sodium soy sauce, canola oil and chili powder. Marinate the chicken tenders in this mixture for 20 minutes to one hour, and cook on an oiled grill over medium-high heat until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about two minutes per side. Serve with simple corn on the cob and a brown rice pilaf for a healthy, quick and tasty meal.

Tacos

Tacos are super-easy and can be quite nutritious. Saute an onion in a bit of oil over medium heat until translucent; add 1 lb. ground turkey breast or lean ground beef. Saute in a pan over medium heat, breaking the meat apart and cooking until it is no longer pink. Add one 15-oz. can of drained pinto or black beans and an 8-oz. can of diced tomatoes. Heat through and set aside. Pour approximately one cup of jarred salsa in a bowl and set alongside other bowls that contain shredded cheddar cheese, chopped leaf lettuce and reduced-fat sour cream. Warm a package of whole-wheat flour tortillas and you have a healthy, simple serve-yourself taco bar.

About this Author

Michele Turcotte is a registered, licensed dietitian, and a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has more than 12 years of experience in clinical and corporate settings, and has extensive experience in one-on-one diet counseling and meal planning. She has written freelance food and nutrition articles for Trouve Publishing Inc. since 2004.