5 Quick and Healthy Dinners
Let’s be real: adulting is exhausting. Add being a mother and a wife into that and you’re basically signing a contract that says ‘Sure, I’ll be tired forever. It’s fine. Everything is fine.’ I can’t count how many times I have written out a meal plan for the week, and gone to the grocery store, only to come home and order pizza. I’m not proud but hey, that’s life.
I recently made a deal with myself to STOP doing that. No more processed, crap meals for dinner. All they do is fill my family up with crap and leave them feeling hungry an hour later. As a nursing mom, I also don’t like feeling like I’m giving my baby milk that’s anything less than perfect. What I eat affects her moods (and her belly) so much.
If we are being honest, which I am sincerely trying to be, sometimes it’s just easier to grab something on the go because it seems like we are always on the go. Next thing you know, you’ve eaten out four times this week and you can already feel your pants getting tighter. I don’t know about you, but as good as fast food may taste, I always regret it after it’s all said and done. I feel sluggish and just plain yuck.
So never fear! Here I am with a list of my top 5 favorite quick and healthy dinner recipes to get you through the week. All of them take less than an hour from start to finish, and they have even earned the Atwood Kids Seal of Approval (I just made that up, can you tell?) No, seriously, I got blessed with the pickiest kids on Earth, I think. If they aren’t complaining when I set these plates on the table, no one will.
1. Skinny Chicken (Broccoli) Alfredo
Time: 30 minutes Serves 8
Carbs and comfort food all mixed into one delicious, creamy bowl…mmmm. Chicken Alfredo is one of my kids’ all time favorite meals, and sometimes they even eat the broccoli too! It’s also one of my go-to dinners, but using store-bought Alfredo sauce adds a lot of unwanted and unneeded calories and fat. For a mom trying to get into shape, this can be a total deal breaker. In this recipe, low-fat milk and Greek yogurt take the place of heavy cream and butter for a much lighter and (in my opinion) tastier Chicken Broccoli Alfredo that won’t leave you feeling weighed down and tired.
- 4 Chicken breasts, cooked, cut into pieces and seasoned with salt & pepper
- 2 Cups cooked broccoli
- 16 oz whole grain pasta, any kind
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 4 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 2 cups organic chicken broth
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%)
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions, saving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water before draining. Set aside.
- Heat EVOO in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about one minute or until golden-brown, stirring constantly.
- Add in flour and whisk, cooking for one additional minute.
- Slowly whisk in chicken broth, and then the milk.
- Whisk in Greek yogurt, salt and pepper, then turn heat to low and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and chicken.
- Pour over cooked pasta and add broccoli. If the sauce is too thick, add a little reserved pasta water to thin.
Recipe adapted with love from Iowagirleats.com
2. Chicken Stir-fry with Brown Rice
Time: 30 minutes Serves 8
This dish is packed with delicious stir-fried vegetables, chicken, and brown rice to put a healthy spin on the popular recipe.
- 3 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 bags frozen stir-fry vegetables (I used the ones with NO egg noodles)
- 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2-3 cups brown rice, cooked
- Light soy sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat up EVOO in medium-sized skillet or wok and add chicken.
- Sauté until no longer pink, add garlic, and cook until golden-brown, about 1 minute.
- While chicken is cooking, cook brown rice according to directions on package. Set aside.
- Add frozen vegetables to chicken and sauté until veggies are heated through and semi-crunchy, about 5 minutes.
- Serve chicken and vegetable mixture over rice and sprinkle with light soy sauce.
3. “Unstuffed” Peppers
Time: 45 minutes Serves 8
Let me start off by saying that my 5 year old hates bell peppers. Absolutely loathes them, he would quite literally rather starve than even consider eating a bell pepper. I found that out the hard way when I made stuffed bell peppers for dinner and spent more of the night dealing with a knock-down, drag-out meltdown than actually eating the meal that I made. Insert the “unstuffed bell pepper” (can you hear the angels singing?) and it’s a whole new ball game. The same 5 year old who wouldn’t even look at a whole bell pepper without gagging cleared his plate and all was well in the world. Plus, this recipe takes a lot less time than traditional stuffed peppers. Double win!
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups organic chicken broth
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Heat up EVOO in large skillet and add ground turkey. Cook on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes (turkey will NOT be completely cooked through)
- Add bell peppers, onions, and garlic, and stir to combine. Once onions are clear and bell peppers are starting to soften, reduce heat to medium and drain excess grease, if any.
- Stir in remaining ingredients except brown rice and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until rice is tender.
- Remove from heat and stir to combine ingredients. If using cheese, sprinkle over top and cover for about 10 minutes, or until melted.
4. Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 6 hours Serves 8
Okay, so this one may be a little misleading because I did say that all these recipes were under an hour. In my defense, preparing these slow cooker chicken tacos literally takes maybe 5 minutes. 6, if you’re taking your time 😉 My Crockpot is a complete and total lifesaver because sometimes, I just don’t want to cook, no matter how little time it takes. That’s where this bad boy comes in handy. Throw in a few ingredients, turn on the Crockpot, and BAM! Six hours later, I have a full meal for the family and I put in very, very little effort.
- 4 Chicken breasts
- 2 Cups medium salsa
- 1 Packet taco seasoning
- Whole wheat tortillas
- Optional: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, plain Greek yogurt
- Place chicken breasts in slow cooker.
- Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken and then pour salsa over top.
- Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 6 hours.
- When chicken is cooked through, shred with a fork and serve in tortilla with optional garnishes.
5. BBQ Chicken & Roasted Sweet Potato Bowls
Time: 45 minutes Serves 6
My family LOVES barbecue chicken, but honestly it can sometimes be a hassle. Especially if my dear husband is working and I have to try to man the grill by myself (NOT pretty). This is a much better alternative that makes the entire family happy! Add in the sweet potatoes and broccoli, and you have a delicious and family friendly meal.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- 1/2 Cup barbecue sauce, divided
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit
- Peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks
- Chop onion into 1 inch pieces and add to a lined sheet pan along with the sweet potatoes.
- Toss onion and sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, ¼ tsp. salt, garlic powder and chili powder and mix until well combined.
- Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.
- Toss the sweet potatoes and push to one side of the pan. Add the broccoli and toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and ¼ tsp. salt.
- Add the chicken breasts and brush with ¼ c. BBQ sauce.
- Bake an additional 15-20 minutes at 400° until the chicken is done.
- Remove the pan from the oven and shred the chicken breasts using two forks.
- Toss the chicken with the remaining BBQ sauce.
- Add to bowls along with the roasted vegetables and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted with love from thecreativebite.com
Well there you have it! Five quick and healthy dinners that the whole family will enjoy. No more sacrificing your money and waistline eating out every night! I hope you enjoy these meals as much as my family and I have, and please feel free to subscribe to my page for more healthy recipes to come!