As a busy mom and owner of a nutrition counseling private practice, I am a big fan of one meal for the whole family. I am not a short order cook and I encourage you not to be too—it just makes your life so much easier!
Here are 10 dinners that are quick, simple and fun for the whole family to enjoy:
1. Build your own taco bar
Start the assembly line with an option of a lettuce leaf, whole wheat tortilla bread, or collard green wrap. Then...
- Choose 1 or 2 protein options such as black beans, chicken breast strips or taco style meat (select lean ground turkey or chicken and lightly sauté with avocado oil and onions, garlic, tomato paste, and paprika).
- Choose an assortment of vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli rice (add cut up cauliflower or broccoli to a food processor, pulverize until it is evenly chopped into small pieces, sauté lightly with avocado oil and pepper to taste), avocado, oven baked sweet potatoes, lightly sautéed peppers and onions.
- Choose 1-3 options of toppings: Greek yogurt, salsa verde, guacamole or low fat part skim mozzarella cheese.
2. Pumpkin chickpea pasta
Boil 1 box of chickpea pasta for 7 minutes. Drain liquids, transfer back to the bowl and add 2 cups of pumpkin puree, 1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded), ½ cup 2% milk, 1 Tablespoon avocado oil, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder and black pepper to taste.
3. Oven-“fried" fish with roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries
Bread any white fish (I like cod or halibut) by dipping the fish fillets into eggs and almond meal. Season with basil and black pepper, and bake at 400F with skin side down for about 20-25 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested.
Roast broccoli with a touch of avocado oil and garlic, bake on 375F for about 30 minutes.
Cut sweet potatoes into julienne strips, season with cinnamon and bake on 425F for 20 minutes.
Psst—To make it fun for younger kids, you could use a cookie cutter prior to breading and make the fish into a particular shape. My son loves dinosaurs so any food shaped like a dinosaur is sure to be a win!
4. Spaghetti squash bowl with meatballs
Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove pits, and place the skin side up in a medium sized oven pan.
Spray each side lightly with avocado oil and bake on 350F for 30 minutes, flipping midway through.
While the spaghetti squash is cooking, prep the meatballs: Add 1 lb lean ground turkey or chicken to a medium size bowl with ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup finely chopped mushrooms or zucchini, 1 onion, 2 whole eggs, paprika, black pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Mix the meatball mixture, form into meatballs and add to a large pot of simmered low sodium tomato sauce. Cook for about 20 minutes.
Once the spaghetti squash is ready, use a fork to remove the flesh and plate with meatballs and sauce on top.
5. Veggie frittata
Scramble 5 whole eggs and 7 egg whites in a bowl. Add veggies of your choice to mixture (I particularly love mushrooms and broccoli together). Welcome ½ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese or 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast.
Fill up medium sized pan and bake on 350F for about 20 minutes.
6. Tofu scramble
Use a fork to crumble the tofu into bite sized pieces. Add tofu, thinly sliced pepper, tomatoes, onions and spinach with avocado oil to an iron skillet on the stove top. Season with garlic powder, black pepper and basil.
Sautee lightly and enjoy with roasted potatoes or 1-2 slices of toasted whole wheat bread and avocado.
7. Black bean and beef sliders
With a potato masher or fork, mash ¼ cup cooked black beans with 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and garlic powder until very creamy. Mix the black bean mixture with ½ pound ground lean beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Broil for about 20 minutes, flipping midway through. Toast whole wheat buns and add mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers to your liking. (This makes about 8 sliders.)
8. Spinach stuffed chicken breasts
Cut a pocket into each chicken breast, going almost all the way through.
Divide ½ cup chopped spinach and 2 tablespoons chopped basil for 4 chicken breasts and fill each chicken breast pocket with it, adding 2-3 lemon slices. Use toothpicks to hold the pockets closed. Season chicken with black pepper and salt to taste.
Bake chicken on 350F for about 25- 30 minutes. Serve with quinoa and a side of steamed broccoli. (This recipe is for 4 chicken breasts.)
9. Turkey bean chili
Heat 2 teaspoons of avocado oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place 1-pound ground lean turkey in the pot and cook until evenly brown. Stir in 1 chopped onion, 1 cup carrots and parsnips and cook until tender.
Add 2 cups of water into the pot. Mix in 4 diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 16 ounces of kidney beans and garlic. Season with ½ teaspoon of chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Psst—If you want to make vegetarian, omit the turkey and add an additional 16 ounces of beans instead.
10. Homemade pizza
Choose the pizza crust you desire below and the instructions that follow.
A. Pre-made whole wheat pizza crust. Bring dough to room temperature and then use a rolling pan to evenly roll dough into your desired pizza crust shape. If you have a pizza stone, place the crust on the pizza stone and add low sodium tomato sauce and desired toppings (such as broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms, artichokes) and ½ cup low fat mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes on 400F.
B. Home-made cauliflower crust. In a bowl, combine 1 head of cauliflower with ¼ cup shredded mozzarella, ¼ grated Parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 eggs and salt to taste.
Transfer to the center of the baking sheet and spread the mixture into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
Remove and add low sodium tomato sauce with desired toppings (such as broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms, artichokes) and ¼ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for an additional 10 minutes.
Psst—If you want the crust to be a bit more crispy, return the pizza to the oven and increase the temperature to 450F for an additional 5 minutes.