The last of the nutrition series!
I’ve had WAY too much fun writing this
My goal with dinner is to catch up on whatever I might have missed out the rest of the day. If I was short on whole grains, I try to sneak some in, if I slacked on veggies or protein, then I make that the focus. TIP: MyPlate can be a useful tool for determining a general idea of what your individual needs are on a daily basis.
DINNER #1: Salmon and asparagus over whole grain of choice
This is one of my favorite meals – I could literally eat it once a week and never get sick of it. Salmon is so flavorful that it doesn’t take a ton of seasoning and it pairs perfectly with a whole grain and cooked fresh asparagus.
NOTES & TIPS
SALMON: I’m sure you’re all aware of the fact that salmon is healthy…but knowing exactly WHY it’s healthy might not be clear. It’s pretty simple actually – salmon’s an excellent source of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to keep everything from your heart to your skin and joints healthy. It’s also a great source of lean protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. TIP: I love to grill salmon as well as roast it. I’ll often slather some mustard on it, wrap it in foil and pop it in the oven until it’s cooked to my liking (I like mine pretty well-cooked but I know that’s kind of salmon sacrilege – go with what you prefer!).
ASPARAGUS: As a veggie this one is wonderful. Not only is it loaded with antioxidants and nutrients like fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K and chromium, but it’s also a rich source of glutathione which is a detoxifying compound that helps break down free radicals which can help protect against certain cancers. TIP: I love to roast my asparagus with a little olive oil and salt. I just wash it, cut off the bottom stems (basically any white part you see on there) and roast it in the oven on 425 for about 20 minutes. I like mine pretty crispy, if you like yours just slightly browned, then I would suggest less time in the oven. But it’s also great just steamed!
WHOLE GRAIN TIP: I love the way farro pairs with salmon but truly any whole grain works – from brown rice to quinoa and everything in between. Not a huge whole grain fan? Try mixing half brown rice and half white rice to get some of the benefits of that fiber without the overwhelming whole grain taste.
DINNER #2: Burgers (turkey or veggie) or sausage (chicken or veggie) on whole wheat buns. Top the burgers with avocado, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and condiments of choice (ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce). Serve with a roasted veggie and sweet potato fries.
NOTES & TIPS
BURGER/SAUSAGE TIP: We talked in this post about my favorite store-bought veggie burgers – these are one of my favorite homemade: homemade black bean burgers and turkey burgers. As for chicken/veggie sausage my favorites are Aidell’s and Trader Joe’s Italian’s Sausage-less Sausage.
ROASTED VEGGIE TIP: I love roasted brussel sprouts. I prepare them the same way as I do asparagus (see above). Another great one to serve alongside this meal is corn. On the cob or off, it makes a great compliment!
SWEET POTATO FRIES: Sweet potatoes are a great food to include in the diet. They’re packed with heart-healthy (and waist-line friendly!) fiber, Vitamin A (also known as ‘beta carotene’ – an antioxidant that promotes eye health) and vitamins C and E which are important for disease prevention and healthy skin and hair. TIP: I LOVE homemade sweet potato fries. I’ll often just slice a medium sweet potato into rounds, coat with a little olive oil, salt and cinnamon (or ground chipotle for spice!) and roast in the oven 15-20 minutes before flipping and cooking another 15-20 minutes on the other side. If this is too much work for you – Alexia makes a great easy option with TONS of variety from crinkle to waffle cut!
DINNER #3: Homemade whole wheat pizza and salad
NOTES & TIPS
WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA CRUST: I love to make my own homemade whole wheat pizza dough, but when I’m short on time, I rely on the fresh stuff my local grocery store offers. Trader Joe’s also sells it in their refridgerated section. It makes homemade pizza SO simple. You literally just have to roll out the dough, top with your favorite pizza sauce and cheese. If you can’t find the fresh stuff though, Boboli makes one available almost everywhere as does Rustic Crust. Another great way to do this is to use whole wheat naan or pita!
TOPPINGS: I love to use my pizza as a way to pile on the veggies. I’ll often throw a bunch on top (peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, artichokes, etc) along with some fresh mozzarella before throwing it in the oven. I also love using pesto in place of sauce for an extra special treat.
DINNER #4: Tacos with all the fixin’s and whole grain corn chips
I love this meal because it’s so versatile. You can use chicken or beans, slaw, lettuce, tomatoes, whole grain corn tortillas, blue corn tortillas or whole wheat tortillas. Not only that, but it’s relatively simple to pull together!
NOTES & TIPS
PROTEIN TIP: As I mentioned above, you can use whatever works best for you! I love chicken or beans (from black beans to pinto and everything in between!) but I also love fake ground meat crumbles (lower in fat and calories than ground beef) – with a little seasoning, no one can ever tell it’s not real ground beef. You could also use crumbled, seasoned tofu, pulled pork or plain old ground turkey breast NOTE: Be sure your ground turkey says ground turkey BREAST on it otherwise you may be getting a mishmash of all different parts of the turkey. You want to try to stick with the white breast meat as that’s the healthiest option!
HOMEMADE GUACAMOLE TIP: I love to make my own guacamole by simply mashing an avocado, dousing with a little fresh lime and salt. If I want to get really fancy, I’ll also add a little diced onion. It’s a great source of healthy fat.
DINNER #5: Turkey meatballs over whole wheat pasta with a side salad
This dish is comfort in a bowl. Not only that but you’re getting lean protein from the meatballs and plenty of fiber from the whole wheat pasta and the side salad.
NOTES & TIPS
EYE ON PORTION: I think one of the things that people have the hardest time with in terms of portion control is pasta. The pasta shouldn’t be the main event of this dish – while it’s easy to fill the whole bowl with it, remember that you only need about 1/2 – 1 cup. This way you can enjoy pasta dishes weekly without having to worry about gaining weight! NOTE: Pasta itself does NOT make you gain weight, eating TOO MUCH pasta (just like with anything!) is the culprit. Whole grain pasta can easily be a healthy part of the diet so long as you’re not overdoing it.
PILE ON THE VEGGIES: One of the easiest ways to sneak veggies into this dish is to sauté a bunch in a pan then pour the sauce over the top (zucchini, squash and peppers work nicely). Serve it all together in one bowl and you can even ditch the side salad! I do this often with a spicy tomato sauce, chicken sausage and peppers.1