Do you often get stuck while trying to plan your ultimate meal of the day? This small list of dinner ideas is composed to help you feel satisfied and ready for several hours of solid and beneficial nighttime rest.
Nowadays, we have quite an astonishing number of diet choices and ready-made diet plans available – you can choose whether to go Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, South Beach…However, as any nutritionist will tell you, some basic principles of healthy and balanced dieting never change, like the time-honored rule of keeping your last meal of the day as light and easy on your digestive system as possible.
In this article, we bring you seven carefully selected and easy to make healthy dinner recipes, taking into account our belief that a healthy dinner should consist of proteins and vegetables, altogether banning harmful and difficult-to-digest combinations (such as carbs and proteins, fruits for dessert, etc.) and preparing your body for nighttime rest. We have included a selection of different “super-foods” in the mix – starting from good old chicken, to quinoa and edamame.
Before we begin, remember one more thing: have your dinner at least a couple of hours before bedtime! Our metabolism tends to slow down during sleep, many enzymes stop being active and the food remains undigested for a long period of time, which in turn leads to fat accumulation, and eventually, after years of poor nutrition, to more serious conditions.
Healthy dinner recipe #1: White mushrooms and chicken salad
Cesar salad with roasted chicken.
Make this simple and delicious salad a weekly item on your dinner menu, or just put it together quickly whenever you want something hunger curbing and satisfying – it is easy enough, and has all the protein and fiber you need!
1 pound chicken breasts
½ pound marinated white mushrooms
low-fat sour cream
Start with boiling the chicken breast. Once it’s done, chop it into small pieces. Drain the white mushrooms of extra marinade and chop them into slices. Grate the pickles, wash and shred the lettuce. Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs, after which you should leave them in some cold water to cool down for a few minutes.
Peel the eggs and cut two of them into little cubes, and leave the third one for decoration later. Cut the parsley into tiny pieces. In a separate container, mix sour cream, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper, until you get an even dressing. Join all the previously prepared ingredients in a deeper bowl and pour the dressing over. Stir the entire salad lightly. Finally, place the salad into a serving bowl and decorate it with egg slices.
Healthy dinner recipe #2: Baked zucchini salad.
Here is another ultra-light and savory salad, which is also vegetarian and vegan-friendly. It could also be served as a side dish for lunch, but it is more than enough on its own for dinner. Good to know: Aside from being packed with dietary fiber and useful nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, folic acid and beta-carotene, zucchini have very high water content and are very low in calories.
- 7 medium-sized zucchini
- 3 cloves of garlic
- lemon juice
- two chili peppers
- olive oil
Preparation: Peel the zucchini and cut them up into slices. Sprinkle the zucchini with some salt and leave them aside for a while to drain. Cut up the garlic into small pieces, and do the same with parsley leaves after washing them. Mix the garlic, parsley and lemon juice together into a tasty salad dressing. Next, cut up the chili peppers and fry them briefly using a teaspoon of olive oil, in order to enhance the aroma and spiciness.
Pat the zucchinis dry with a towel or drain away the liquid using a colander, and fry them briefly using a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Finally, use a deeper bowl to line up the salad layers: start by placing a layer of zucchinis, sprinkle it with the dressing followed by chili peppers, and repeat this until you’ve used up all the ingredients. You can serve the salad while it’s still hot or wait for it to cool down.
Healthy dinner recipe #3: Cold yogurt soup with celery and mint
Have you started growing your own mint, by any chance? Use the aromatic fresh leaves for lovely cold soup. It is tasty, refreshing, and very easy to make. You will prepare it in no time; it’ll just take a while to cool off. Much has been said and written about the health benefits of celery – it’s full of antioxidants and very low in caloric value, to mention just the main ones.
- A couple of celery leaves (with stalks)
- two scallions
- one small onion
- one vegetable bouillon cube
- a cup of various frozen or fresh diced vegetables to your liking
- 1.5 fl oz of yogurt
- 3 table spoons of cottage cheese
- several fresh mint leaves
- olive oil
Preparation: Dice celery and scallion sticks into tiny pieces. Do the same with the onion. Place these three ingredients into a pan over a little heated olive oil, and cook for around five minutes. Add vegetable bullion to the mix and wait until it boils. After that, add a cup of your chosen vegetables. Leave it to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Let it cool down for a bit, and then process it in your blender until it turns into mash.
Throw in the mint leaves, and then leave the mixture in your fridge for an hour until it cools down completely. Process the yogurt and cottage cheese together in a blender, and add garlic to your liking. Serve chilled soup in plates or small bowls, with cheese and yogurt dressing poured on top and sprinkled with fresh mint.
Healthy dinner recipe #4: Lemon-thyme chicken with sautéed vegetables
This aromatic and appetizing chicken dish is a perfect choice when you’re having guests over for dinner, or you want to impress that special someone with your cooking skills, and still stay on track when it comes to light and healthy dining. This quantity is enough for four servings. Good to know: Edamame (which is a fancy name for boiled green soybeans) is a yummy soy snack packed with fibers, proteins and vitamin and mineral content, originating from the cuisines of East Asia.
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
- salt; pepper (any kind you prefer)
- 1 pound chicken breast tenders
- 4 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 medium shallot, sliced
- 2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preparation: In a zip lock bag, combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, and 2 teaspoons thyme; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chicken tenders, seal the bag, and gently turn to coat. Set aside. The next step is heating 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot, remaining garlic, edamame, and tomatoes; cook for 4 minutes.
Use a vegetable peeler to slice zucchini into long ribbons. Add zucchini and remaining lemon juice and thyme to vegetables in skillet; sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, stir in feta, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Finally, add remaining oil to skillet. Remove chicken from marinade and sauté 2 to 3 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve with vegetables.
Healthy dinner recipe #5: Roasted garlic cauliflower
Roasted or raw, cauliflower is renowned for its richness in anti-oxidants, fiber and vitamins, and its anti-inflammatory and potential cancer-fighting properties. Try this simple and tasty meal for your dinner and add spices and herbs to your liking. This recipe makes for six servings.
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a large casserole dish. Place the olive oil and garlic in a large resealable bag. Add cauliflower, and shake to mix. Pour into the prepared casserole dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Healthy dinner recipe #6: Toasted quinoa and seafood salad
There is a good reason why the whole world is crazy about quinoa: this Latin American grain has the perfect balance of nine essential amino acids which are necessary for human consumption. This is rarely encountered in plants and is more common in meat. In addition to this, quinoa is packed with fiber and iron, and is fairly low in caloric value.
The golden rule for cooking quinoa is – a cup of quinoa is cooked with 2 cups of water. Cook it until the water boils, and then lower the heating temperature until it soaks up all the water (15-20 minutes). Due to its neutral taste, quinoa can be combined with almost anything. We bring you a delicious salad which can be served both as warm and cool.
- 1 pound seafood variety (you can use chicken instead, or tofu for a vegan-friendly dish)
- 1 shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 red pepper cut into slices
- 1 cup peas
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 glasses of water
- 2 teaspoons of cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- salt, pepper
Preparation: Wash quinoa thoroughly, than drain it and set it aside. Preheat the oil on a medium temperature and add quinoa in order to toast it lightly. Stir frequently. After 5-6 minutes, add red pepper slices, shallot and garlic, and fry it briefly along with frequent stirrings. Once the shallots turn golden brown, add peas, green beans and water. Stir it and place a lid over the skillet. Don’t stir until all the water evaporates.
After that, remove the skillet from the stove. Heat up sesame oil on medium temperature and add seafood (or your preferred substitute). If you are using frozen seafood, dump them in boiling salty water beforehand and cook them for five minutes and drain them. Season them with cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic and fry them for five minutes.
Add the quinoa-vegetable mix and stir everything together thoroughly. Remove from the stove, add soy sauce to taste and serve warm. You can refrigerate any leftovers and eat them within a day.
Healthy dinner recipe #7: Oven-roasted flounder with bok choy, cilantro, and lime
Finally, it’s time to bring some savory white fish into the mix. Needless to say, fish is always a good choice for any meal, and this recipe makes for a hearty, indulging meal seasoned with all the right herbs and spices to create a simple, yet memorable dining experience.
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro plus small sprigs for garnish
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons finely minced peeled ginger
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- salt, black pepper
- 1 pound baby bok choy (2-3 bunches), cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 cup sake or dry white wine
- 4 4-ounce fillets flounder or other delicate white fish (up to 1/2 inch thick)
Preparation: Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 400°. Combine scallion, 1/4 cup cilantro, and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk in 1 1/2 tablespoon oil. Season cilantro-lime sauce with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if needed, add bok choy, cut side down, and sear until golden brown, 2-4 minutes per batch.
Turn bok choy cut side up and remove pan from heat. Add sake. Season flounder fillets with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer over bok choy. Roast in oven until fish is just cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Pour sake sauce from skillet into the bottom of 4 shallow bowls, dividing evenly.
Add bok choy to each bowl, dividing evenly; top each bowl with 1 fish fillet. Spoon some cilantro-lime sauce over fish and garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve remaining cilantro-lime sauce alongside for drizzling.
There you have it! Nobody ever said you couldn’t eat a satisfying and tasty meal for dinner and keep calories to a minimum.