Tired of eating the same dinner recipes? Are you interested in easy dinner ideas healthy? I got that covered.
There are countless easy dinner ideas healthy recipes. These simple, healthy dinners don’t take a genius to whip up. I’m going to show you the best recipes ever with my simple healthy dinners.
The Best Healthy Dinner Foods
Some of the healthiest foods you should add to your dinner rotation right now.
There’s a lot of focus on what you shouldn’t be eating—cut sugar or carbs, stop eating [insert scapegoat food of the month]. But when it comes to health, what you add to your plate is more important than what you take away. Plus, when you focus on adding the foods that are known to promote health, the less healthy options naturally take up less space in your diet, without having to think about it.
Focus on filling your dinner plate with “whole grains, lean or plant-based protein, and lots of veggies for a big nutrition boost,” recommends Beth Stark, RDN, LDN. While there are certainly more than 10 foods we’d recommend including on your dinner plate on a regular basis (variety is an important part of a healthy diet), the following 10 foods offer some of the biggest nutritional benefits you can get.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating two to three servings of fish per week, and one of the healthiest options is salmon. “Salmon is like a multivitamin for your brain. It’s loaded with important brain-boosting nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and choline, and is an excellent source of high-quality protein,” says Lauren Manaker M.S., RDN. Eating salmon is also linked to better heart health, and “fish like salmon may have a positive impact on sleep quality,” adds Manaker.
Sustainability is something to consider when choosing salmon. Manaker recommends looking for “options that have integrity by looking for the Best Aquaculture Practices certified seal.” Or, use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide to find the most sustainable options.
Salmon is incredibly versatile, too. Whether you’re buying fresh or canned, our Salmon Cakes are a favorite, or try our Honey Garlic Salmon for an easy and delicious dinner. The Greek Salmon Bowl (pictured above) is a delicious dinner that’s perfect for lunch the next day too.
2. Sweet potato
While both white and sweet potatoes can be part of a healthy diet, traditional orange sweet potatoes do have a bit of a leg up, offering almost 270 percent of your daily vitamin A needs and 6 grams of fiber per cup. Other sweet potatoes—purple and white varieties—provide different phytonutrients. For example purple sweet potatoes contain compounds that may enhance healthy gut bacteria. Both orange and purple sweet potatoes may contribute to eye health as well.
Research continues to link eating plant-based proteins to an incredible number of health benefits, even if you eat some meat. “Chickpeas are a tasty and versatile addition to dinner because they contribute satisfying plant-based protein, fiber and other nutrients like selenium, iron and folate. They are also considered a low glycemic food due to their fiber and protein content, which means they help to keep blood sugar levels steady during digestion,” says Stark. They can be added to almost any dish—from main, to side, to salad—for a nutrient boost. Stark recommends swapping them in for meat in casseroles, soups, salads, and pasta dishes. But the possibilities are practically endless.
Lentils may be tiny, but they sure are mighty. Packed with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, they offer a number of health benefits including promoting heart health and reducing risk of diabetes and certain cancers. They are also a good source of iron, which is especially important if you don’t eat much meat (these 12 iron-rich foods can also help you get your fill).
And lentils can be added to so much more than soup! Use in place of beef for a plant-forward bolognese (or go halfsies with each). Make them into lentil cakes, a burger, or meatballs. Or, try making our Chilean Lentil Stew or Squash and Red Lentil Curry.
5. Dark leafy greens
Kale isn’t the only super green. Dark leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, and beet greens are all packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support health. While each offer a slightly different nutrient profile you can count on adding fiber, iron, folate, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K to your diet when you eat dark leafy greens. Choose the ones you like the best and add them to soups, stews, pasta sauces, salads, grain bowls, and more! Check out our list of Healthy Greens Side Dishes for ideas for dinner this week.
Healthy Eating Plate
Building a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Make most of your meal vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate.
Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.
Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate.
Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.
Protein power – ¼ of your plate.
Fish, poultry, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.
Healthy plant oils – in moderation.
Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that low-fat does not mean “healthy.”
Drink water, coffee, or tea.
Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.
The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is also important in weight control.
The main message of the Healthy Eating Plate is to focus on diet quality:
- The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some sources of carbohydrate—like vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and beans—are healthier than others.
- The Healthy Eating Plate also advises consumers to avoid sugary beverages, a major source of calories—usually with little nutritional value—in the American diet.
- The Healthy Eating Plate encourages consumers to use healthy oils, and it does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories people should get each day from healthy sources of fat. In this way, the Healthy Eating Plate recommends the opposite of the low-fat message promoted for decades by the USDA.
Best Healthy Dinners Ideas, Recommended by Dietitians
Coming up with simple, quick, and healthy dinner ideas can be a fun challenge for some, and a dreaded task for others. If you fall into the latter category, know that you aren’t alone. While many have their go-to healthy dinners that they lean on, eating the same food day in and day out can get old very quickly.
“I love anything you can pull together in one bowl that’s easy, fast, healthy, and delicious. Start with a whole grain like farro or quinoa, add some dark greens like spinach plus at least a cup of veggies (roasted, grilled, or raw), and then your choice of protein (beans, fish, or tofu are our favorite). Finish with a delicious sauce and some fun toppings like avocado, nuts, or dried fruit. It’s fun to mix up different flavors and you can use this formula for almost any cuisine!”
Store-bought Rotisserie Chicken and Veggies
“Buying a store-bought rotisserie chicken is the answer to your prayers when you need to get a healthy dinner on the table in a quick minute! All that is left for you to do when you get home is heat and serve with your favorite vegetable and/or a leafy green salad this nutrient-packed protein main entrée.” – Barbara Baron, RDN, a New York-based registered dietitian focused on family meals3
Breakfast for Dinner
“Make a veggie omelet or simply scramble a few eggs with your favorite vegetables on hand. Serve with a pancake or waffle—a perfectly balanced meal with 3 of the five food groups on your plate!” – Barron4
Teriyaki Stir Fry Pasta Night
“Bring Asian flavors to pasta night by tossing a box of cooked, whole-grain pasta with your favorite stir-fried protein (chicken, pork tenderloin, lean beef or shrimp), veggies and bottled, lower-sodium teriyaki sauce. You could use a variety of fresh veggies that are cooked in a skillet with the protein, or go with a frozen, steamable stir-fry mix to save time. By using this simple formula and swapping in different proteins, sauces and veggies…you can enjoy a new stir-fry pasta night every week!” – Beth Stark, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer and culinary nutrition communications consultant based in PA. Speaking of frozen foods, just make sure you’re avoiding these 12 Frozen Dinners to Always Leave on Grocery Store Shelves.5
6-Ingredient Lemony Pesto Pasta
“Skip the red sauce for a change and dress up cooked, whole-grain pasta with jarred basil pesto, multi-colored grape tomatoes, a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans, shaved Parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Since it’s a plant-forward dish, this entire dinner comes together in no time and the most cooking effort you have to put in is boiling the water.