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Cooking for a family can be a challenge. It can be hard to find delicious healthy meals for dinner every day that appeals to the whole crowd. Here you can find ideas for delicious healthy meals for dinner that are all crowd pleasers, even the finickiest eater will enjoy these.
Nutritionally Dense Foods
Delicious healthy meals for dinner start with nutritionally dense foods. What are nutritionally dense foods? These are foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals and that do not have a lot of “empty calories”. A lot of people believe that food is “medicine” so to speak. There is evidence across a wide range of studies that food has the power to improve health. As a matter of fact, food is healthcare. What you fuel your body and your family’s body with can help to prevent disease, improve immunity, and keep everyone in good health.
Using nutritionally dense foods to create delicious healthy meals for dinner can help to improve both physical health and dental health. Just ask your dentist about the role diet plays in preventing cavities. A diet that is high in nutrition and low in sugary treats is strongly recommended by most dentists as part of a preventive dental care program.
Pediatric dentistry (dentists for kids) often see kids with cavities that could have been prevented simply by making some dietary changes. Of course, it is not only teeth that are suffering from poor diets. There is an obesity problem among children as well from poor diets.
No one is saying you should drag your kids to the gym to get a workout in to help offset some of the risks that are involved with poor nutritional choices, but you have the power to control what they eat, and these delicious healthy meals for dinner are a great place to start.
Before we get to some of the delicious healthy meals for dinner, let’s talk a little bit more about the ingredients that you use. Organic foods are safer to consume. While you may not have your own chicken coop to ensure you have organic eggs available there are plenty of options at the grocery store. You may have to pay a little more for organic goods but it is worth the investment.
Recent studies have found that antibiotics in our food sources are making us resistant to antibiotics when we get infections. There are other studies that look at what hormones in our meat are doing to young bodies as well, the outcomes are never good.
Chemical intolerance in humans has also been linked to the use of pesticides in our food. Organically grown food is better for the body, use it whenever you can.
Chicken and Cheese Are Staples
Chicken is a great source of protein. If you visit any wellness clinic and ask about diet recommendations you will always find chicken breast on the list. Chicken is a lean meat that is chockful of protein that leaves you feeling satisfied after a meal. Chicken and cheese can be an amazing combination and provide you with many ways to create delicious healthy meals for dinner. Here are some suggestions:
- Cheesy Chicken Macaroni. All you need is a single skillet to cook the pasta and chicken. Mix the pasta and chicken in with tomato sauce, add some Italian spices cover and let simmer for about 1.5 hours. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese and let melt, and its ready to serve.
- Chicken Fajitas. Same concept one pan, chicken, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, Mexican season pack. Let is all cook together, sprinkle with cheese and serve in warm taco shells. Add brown rice with peppers, onions and a bit of tomato sauce as a side.
- Ground Chicken Sloppy Joes. Everyone loves sloppy Joe’s. You can use ground chicken instead of ground beef for a healthier version. Add some cheese and serve on a toasted whole grain bun.
The delicious healthy meals for dinner listed above can all be made in one pan which helps to keep the mess down. Each can have a delicious healthy side like brown rice, broccoli, cut up cucumbers, and other fresh veggies to make the meal complete.
It’s All About Tradeoffs
Just about any recipe can be tweaked to make a healthier version of the meal. For example, trading out ground beef for ground chicken or turkey in a recipe can help to make the meal healthier. Using brown rice instead of white rice in casseroles and other dishes. Using whole grain bread options for sandwiches is another great trade off. Here are some recipes that are tweaked using healthier options:
- Mini Meatloaves. Mini meatloaves are a great option for kids but instead of following a traditional ground beef meatloaf recipe try using ground turkey. You can also sneak in some vegetables into the meatloaf as well.
- Sweet Potato Fries Instead of French Fries. Sweet potato is a nutritionally dense food and much better for you than regular white potatoes are. Try sweet potato fries as a side dish. You can also substitute other vegetables for fries like zucchini fries or green bean fries by dipping the veggies in a bread crumb coating and using the air fryer (we talk about cooking techniques next).
- Use Lettuce as a Wrap. Lettuce can be a great substitute for bread. You can make sandwiches with lettuce wraps, server burgers in a lettuce wrap, and even make taco lettuce wraps.
You do not have to change all the meals that your family enjoys together to ensure they are getting the right nutrition. You just have to change up some of the ingredients. Keep in mind that beef is not an enemy but it should be consumed in smaller amounts than other meats like chicken, pork, and fish. A healthy diet is all about balance.
How You Cook
Making delicious healthy meals for dinner is highly dependent on the ingredients that you are using in your recipes but that is not the only dependent factor as to whether the meal will be healthy. For example, if you took different types of organic vegetables, coated them with breadcrumbs then deep fried them in oil, you can negate the value of the vegetables by how you cooked those vegetables. In other words, how you cook meals can determine whether or not those meals are healthy.
Health care services report that high cholesterol is affecting millions of Americans of all different ages because of the way food is being cooked. Adding fat to food via deep frying in oil is not the best way to cook food.
It is far better to:
- Use an air fryer. Air fryers are a great way to get that crispy deep fried texture without all the fat. Investing in a deep fryer will make meal prep easier and will ensure you do not negate all those healthy ingredients with the oil that is normally used in frying.
- Bake what you can. Baking is another option to help keep the calories from fat down when you are cooking.
- Grilling is another great option.
How you cook your food is just as important as what you are cooking. Avoid recipes that require added fats or frying, unless you use an air fryer. Here are some things you can cook in an air fryer without having to add any fat at all:
- Fried Chicken Cutlets. Pound the chicken to thin it out. Dredge in egg and seasoned flour and place in the air fryer at 425 for about 20 minutes. This is a great way to make homemade chicken nuggets.
- Fried Vegetables. French fries, sweet potato fries, fried green beans and more can all go in the air fryer.
- Healthy treats. You can fry healthy donuts in your air fryer by using a whole grain flour.
Anything that you would normally fry on the stove in oil or other fats can be fried in the air fryer. It is a simple option that can be a game changer for delicious healthy meals for dinner.
Watch For These Surprises in Your Family’s Diet
The next time you go to the dental office ask your dentist what they think about fruit juice. You may be thinking that incorporating fruit juices into you and your family’s diet is a great way to get an added serving of fruit each day. Unfortunately, sugary drinks including fruit juice is terrible for dental health. It is also less nutritious then you think.
Now there are ways that you can incorporate more fruit into you and your family’s diet that is actually better than drinking fruit juices. For example, orange chicken cooked in the crockpot calls for orange juice in the recipe. It is an easy recipe made up of chicken gut into strips, enough orange juice to over the chicken and about ¼ of honey. You let the crockpot simmer for about 4-6 hours and you have a great meal ready. To add some nutritional value to this recipe you can cut peppers into strips and add that to the crock pot as well.
Experts agree that eating fruit is always better than drinking juice from the fruit. The juice does not contain the fiber that the fruit does. Serve the whole fruit and leave the juice for cooking. Here are some other recipes you can use fruit juice and fruit in:
- Chicken Kabobs and Pineapple. Soak cut-up cubes of chicken in pineapple juice for at least 30 minutes (up to 24 hours in the fridge). Add chicken to skewers alternating with pieces of pineapple. Cook in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes and turn the broiler on for the last 5 minutes, rotating the skewers to brown each side.
- Turkey Legs and Apples. Turkey legs are delicious any time of year, you do not have to wait until the winter holidays. Marinade turkey legs in 100% apple juice overnight in the refrigerator. Add a ¼ cup of honey to the mix. Place turkey legs in a baking pan with sliced apples. Cook at 350 for 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted reaches 165 degrees.
- Pork Tenderloin With Pineapple. Pork and pineapple just go together so well. Marinade the pork tenderloin overnight in pineapple juice. Place the pork tenderloin in a baking pan and cover with pineapple slices. Cook at 350 for 40 minutes.
Adding fruit to recipes is a great way to bring flavors alive while adding a little sweetness to the mix. Kids love meals that have fruit in them because they feel like a treat.
Add Hidden Vegetables
If you are like most parents, you have a hard time getting the kids to eat their veggies. One way you can create delicious healthy meals for dinner is to hide the vegetables. That’s right, it is a little sneaky, but you can hide the vegetables to make them tastier for the kids. Here are a few examples of how you can incorporate more veggies into delicious healthy meals for dinner that the kids will love:
- Zucchini Noodles. Just about every kid loves pasta, so give them what they love. Use Zucchini noodles in their pasta dishes. A little sauce and a lot of cheese will have them clean their plates and get all those great benefits from eating a plate full of veggies.
- Use Ranch Seasoning. Kids seemed to love ranch-flavored anything. Use ranch seasoning to make veggies more palatable for kids.
- Stuff Vegies. Stuffing veggies like tomatoes with flavored cream cheese can make veggies more fun to eat.
Think of it this way. Getting creative in the kitchen and making delicious healthy meals for dinner can improve your family’s health now and, in the future, and you may be able to save on your health club management fees if you are in better health. It is a win-win situation.