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The question “what’s for dinner?” is heard almost every evening by mothers, caretakers or whomever is responsible for making the last main meal of the day. It’s also a nerve-wracking request because oftentimes cooking is the last thing any of us want to do after a hard day’s work.
Fear not! We have several dinner ideas that are sure to hit all the right spots – quick, easy, healthy and most of all delicious! As a special bonus we are incorporating meals that are suitable for all diets including vegetarians/vegans.
Follow along below for some go-to quick and healthy dinner recipes.
Air-Fried Chicken Thighs, Sweet Potato Mash & Mesclun Salad
My air-fryer is one of my most favorite kitchen appliance. It makes the best, succulent “fried” foods without all the added oils and fats. It’s easy to use and cleans up in a snap.
We’ll be using the air-fryer to make this chicken dish, but if you don’t have an air-fryer, simply line a baking sheet with perforated parchment paper and place a baking rack on the sheet. Used in a 400 degree oven, this will provide the same effect as an air-fryer by circulating the hot air to all parts of the chicken.
To make this quick and easy dinner for four all you need is the following ingredients and about 30 to 40 minutes.
- 4 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 to 2 tsp salt-free lemon pepper seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)
- 2 T olive oil or cooking spray
- 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tbsp butter or Earth Balance (vegan)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/4 tsp of cinnamon spice
- Pre-made mesclun salad, dressing of choice and cherry tomatoes (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat air-fryer to 380 degrees or oven to 400 degrees.
- Pat dry chicken thighs and spray with olive oil spray or add a light coating of olive oil. Add salt-free lemon-pepper seasoning and salt to taste to both sides of chicken thighs.
- Line air-fryer pan with pre-perforated parchment and add the chicken thighs. Set for 28 minutes. After 14 minutes, turn over thighs to air-fry the other side. If baking, simply place thighs on baking rack and bake for 40 minutes until fully cooked.
- While the air-fryer or oven is preheating, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the sweet potatoes and boil until soft (10-15 minutes)
- While the potatoes and chicken are cooking, add pre-made mesclun salad to a large bowl. Pour desired amount of salad dressing and add cherry tomatoes if using. Toss to mix.
- Place the cooked sweet potatoes in a food processor and add butter or Earth Balance, brown/coconut sugar, cinnamon. Process on low while slowly adding milk until you get to your desired texture.
Serve by plating each dish with a piece of air-fried chicken, dollops of sweet potato mash and salad on the side. Enjoy!
Seared Seitan, Mushrooms & Onions & 6-Grain Medley
Meatless Mondays and following a plant-based diet are de riguer these days, finding a meat replacement that’s satisfying? Not so much. In the course of my culinary journeys I learned about a remarkable food called seitan (pronounced say-tan). Seitan is essentially vital wheat gluten that’s seasoned and cooked in broth until firm.
Like tofu, seitan gets its flavor from however its seasoned. It also has a pleasing chewy texture that is reminiscent of meat. This makes it the perfect ingredient to make faux chicken, beef and even shrimp!
We’re not going to get too creative with our seitan, but we will make sure its loaded with flavor. We’re also going to cut a few corners by using healthy pre-made sides in to make this meal in a jiffy.
Follow along to make this quick and healthy dinner recipe in about 15 minutes.
- 1 (8 oz) package seitan chunks (or premake your own seitan using this recipe from Bob’s Mill. I used vegetable broth instead of the recommended soy-sauce and molasses.)
- 4 T olive oil
- 1 (8 oz) package of sliced portabella mushrooms
- 1 small yellow onion cut into thin slices
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 pouch organic six-grain medley (you can use any brand but I like Simply Balanced Whole Grain Garlic Six Grain Blend)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Open seitan and drain if necessary.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Fry seitan chunks in olive oil on all sides until browned and heated through. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
- In the same skillet, add the rest of the olive oil and thin sliced yellow onion separated into rings.
- Fry onion rings until translucent and soft (about 5-8 minutes)
- Add sliced portabella mushrooms to skillet with onion rings.
- Cook onions and mushrooms together for 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms are browned.
- Add balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper and cook mushrooms and onions until the liquid reduces to half. Remove from heat.
- While mushrooms, onions and balsamic are reducing, microwave the 6-grain blend for 90 seconds.
Plate with a serving of six grain, with fried seitan on the side. The balsamic mushrooms and onions can be placed on top or on the side. This is one of the easiest and quickest vegan meal you can put together. Enjoy!
Baked Salmon w/ Sautéed Asparagus and Roasted Vegetables
Salmon is one of the healthiest and tastiest of fish available. It is also pretty sustainable so you can enjoy its buttery flavor guilt free. I prefer to purchase wild Alaskan Salmon because I believe it’s healthier than farm-raised.
In this recipe we pair salmon with asparagus and roasted root vegetables to create a quick, satisfying and healthy dinner. Ready in about 25 minutes, it’s sure to satisfy.
- 1 lb wild king (Chinook) salmon cut into four 4 oz fillets
- 3-4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup of butter or earth balance melted
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 8 oz packs asparagus spears
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 box pre-roasted root vegetables (example TJs julienne root vegetables)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place baking rack and set aside.
- Melt butter a glass measuring cup in microwave for about 20 seconds. Add minced garlic and lemon juice.
- Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place on lined baking sheet.
- Pour butter mixture over fish and bake for 15 minutes.
- While fish is baking, wash, dry and trim tough ends off asparagus spears.
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add asparagus spears and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook asparagus for 8-10 minutes until its cooked and softened.
- Heat pre-roasted vegetables according to instructions.
Serve by plating root vegetables, asparagus and baked salmon. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over both the cooked salmon and asparagus. Enjoy with a nice chardonnay or white pinot noir.
*Note: You can make your own roasted root vegetables by cutting up beets, butternut squash, garlic, brussels sprouts, onions or any other root vegetables of your choice. Coat with olive oil in a bowl and season with dried thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven until cooked through – about 40 to 45 minutes.
Mexican Ground Beef, Spaghetti Aioli and Steamed Broccoli
This meal will sure to be a crowd-pleaser, especially with the kids. It’s extremely quick and easy to make this dish with the simplest of ingredients. All you need is some ground beef, spaghetti, spices and frozen broccoli florets. You get a well-rounded meal with protein, carbs and green vegetables. Delicious and tasty – always a winning combination.
Mexican Ground Beef:
- 1 lb 80/20 ground beef (grass-fed is best)
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper or to taste
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 lb uncooked spaghetti
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4-6 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper or to taste
- 1 cup grated Parmesan (optional) can use nutritional yeast for a vegan cheesy flavor
- 1 10 oz package frozen broccoli
- 2 T of butter or earth balance vegan butter
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Place uncooked spaghetti in boiling water and cook to package specifications – 10 to 12 minutes or so.
- While spaghetti is cooking we’ll cook the Mexican Ground Beef. Start by mixing dry spices together in a small bowl.
- Heat another skilled on medium-high and add the diced onion. Saute until translucent.
- Lower heat and add minced garlic. Cook until fragrant – 30 to 40 seconds.
- Turn up heat and crumble in the ground beef into the skillet and mix with garlic and onions – stirring frequently until the meat browns.
- Add mixed spices to the ground beef, stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off heat stir in cilantro and cover.
- Prepare frozen broccoli according to instructions on package. Maybe microwaved for a few minutes or on stove top with a little water for 7-10 minutes.
- Drain Broccoli and stir in butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Now we’ll finish the Spaghetti Aioli. Place skillet on low heat and add olive oil and minced garlic. Saute until garlic is lightly browned.
- Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper into the drained spaghetti.
- Add seasoned spaghetti to garlic oil, chopped parsley, grated Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast if using and stir to thoroughly combine.
Serve spaghetti topped with the Mexican Ground Beef with the steamed broccoli on the side. Enjoy!
Simplify Life – Use Our Quick and Healthy Dinner Recipes
Making quick and healthy meals doesn’t have to be hard. As we’ve shown in the examples above you can cut corners by making smart choices in the grocery aisle.
Frozen vegetables and prepackaged healthy sides really slash the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen. Just make sure to carefully read labels and only choose preservative-free prepackaged sides with natural/real ingredients.
You can always mix and match any of these meals to have a full week’s worth of quick, easy and healthy dinner recipes. If you try any of these, let us know what you think in the comments.