Easy Dinner Recipes:
Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less

easy dinner recipes

Eating well does not have to involve a lot of fancy cooking techniques. Some easy dinner recipes, combined with healthy ingredients, can allow even a student in a dorm room to whip up a healthy dinner in no time. Skyrocketing rates of chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes are due in large part to the typical Western diet filled with processed, fried and refined foods. As was shown on the hit TV series, Jamie's Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver teaches that the key to healthy eating is in cooking whole, fresh foods for yourself as often as possible. All you need is some basic healthy cookware and a handful of ingredients, and you're on your way to a much healthier lifestyle!

If you don't have a lot of time for meal preparation during the week after you get home from work, you can easily prepare some things ahead of time on the weekend. For instance, you can pre-wash a head of lettuce, dry it in a salad spinner, then store it in a re-sealable plastic container so it's ready to go. Put a paper towel in with the lettuce to help keep it crisp.

You can also peel and pre-cut veggies such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. and either store them in your refrigerator's crisper, or blanch them by plunging them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then running them immediately under cold water. At that point you can store them in handy serving-size re-sealable sandwich bags in your freezer, ready to add to whatever easy dinner recipes you are preparing during the week.

One of the most important ways you can stick to healthy eating is to keep your pantry stocked with some basic staples that you can combine in any number of ways with just one or two fresh ingredients that will allow you to have healthy meals on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Following are a few basic foods you can keep stocked up on, followed by some easy dinner recipes to try:

  • Frozen fish fillets – Often even fresher than "fresh" fish due to being flash frozen right on the boat, they can be defrosted in about 10 minutes by submerging them in water that is just a little warmer than body temperature.
  • Steaks or chops – You can buy these in bulk and freeze them in individual sandwich bags. They can be defrosted in the same manner as the frozen fish fillets above and easily pan-seared with some herbs for a quick and easy dinner.
  • Eggs – most people don't think of eggs except as a breakfast food, but omelettes make a great dinner, with a side salad. And contrary to popular belief, eating two eggs every day will not raise most people's cholesterol levels. They are packed full of nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals and are relatively low in calories at only about 80 calories per egg. Eggs cook without sticking if you use a well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan. My carbon steel frying pan's non-stick surface puts Teflon to shame.
  • Basic tomato sauce – by only adding a few other ingredients, this can be made into a delicious pasta sauce in about 15 minutes.
  • Canned fish – tuna can be added to many pasta dishes, or use some canned clams to make a quick, easy white or red clam sauce.
  • Lentils – this high-fiber legume is full of important minerals and B-vitamins and cooks up relatively quickly. High fiber foods help prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol and keep your digestive system working at its best.
  • Onions – Used in a host of easy dinner recipes to add flavor, onions can keep for a long time in a cool place and are an indispensable ingredient to have on hand.

Easy Dinner Recipes: Pan Seared Fish

easy dinner recipes fish

Seared Salmon Filets
Serves: 4
Prep and cooking time: 10 minutes

Nothing could be easier than this quick salmon recipe. It's moist and flavorful and only takes about 5 minutes to cook. You can do this with just about any fish, though salmon has those wonderfully healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 salmon filets
  • 1 juiced lemon

Directions

    1. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon filets and cook for about two minutes. Filets should have a crispy golden crust. Turn filets over and cover with lemon juice. Cook another two minutes and remove to plates.
    2. Serve over basmati rice with optional soy sauce.

Easy Dinner Recipes: Eggs

easy dinner recipes eggs

Cheese and Mushroom Omelette
Serves: 1
Prep and cooking time: 15 mimnutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 handful button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Directions

    1. Add the olive oil to a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and fry until browned - about 4 minutes stirring often. Transfer to a bowl.
    2. In the same frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter then add the beaten eggs. Swirl the pan to distribute the egg. As the egg begins to set, lift the edges and tilt the pan slightly so uncooked egg can flow underneath. When the egg is almost completely set, spoon the mushrooms and cheese over the omelet. Fold the omelet and slide onto a serving plate.

Easy Dinner Recipes: Quick Pasta Sauces

easy dinner recipes sauces

Linguine with White Clam Sauce
Serves: 2
Prep and cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ pound linguine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cans whole or chopped clams in liquid
  • ¼ cup white wine or chicken broth (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • grated parmesan cheese

Directions

    1. Cook linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, or until done.
    2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and sauté the garlic until it just begins to brown. Add the clams and their liquid, the wine or broth, if desired, and the parsley and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Drain pasta and serve with clam sauce and parmesan cheese.
    Some clams have more liquid than others. If there's not a lot, the wine or broth helps to extend the sauce.

Bolognese Sauce
Serves: 4
Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

Directions

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 jars tomato sauce
  • 1 t oregano or herbs de Provence
    Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes, add the ground beef and stir until browned, about 5 minutes, then add the tomato sauce. Add the herbs and a little salt and fresh ground pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve over pasta.

Easy Dinner Recipes: Slow Cooker

slow cooker

Investing just a few dollars in a slow cooker can also make preparing a healthy dinner a breeze. There are many easy dinner recipes written specifically for slow cookers, and the modern ones come in colors other than the burnt orange and avocado green of our parents' generation! The Hamilton Beach Set n' Forget (pictured at right) sells for about $50 and gets consistently high marks from consumers. You can put all the ingredients for the next day's dinner in the crock the night before, leave it in the refrigerator, then turn on the slow cooker the next morning before heading to work. You'll come home to a delicious, nutritious meal ready to enjoy.

Slow Cooker Lentil Stew with Barley and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 3/4 cup dry lentils
  • 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried summer savory
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Directions

    1. In a slow cooker, mix the broth, button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, barley, lentils, onion flakes, garlic, savory, bay leaves, basil, pepper, and salt.
    2. Cover, and cook 4 to 6 hours on High or 10 to 12 hours on Low. Remove bay leaves before serving.

These easy dinner recipes are only a sample of what you can do with just a few ingredients that you keep on hand. You can use them as a base to experiment with some of your own ideas, adding other fresh ingredients to suit your taste and create your own easy healthy recipes. You will soon see that cooking can be easy and fun and doesn't have to be complicated to be healthy!

You may also be interested in:

Healthy Eating Plans

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Low Glycemic Foods


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