What’s for Dinner?

by Rachel on May 13, 2010

After my post on the stages of dieting and nutrition, I got comments and e-mails asking for ideas for healthy “purple” meals. And after telling Lean Cuisines to stuff it yesterday, I figured it was as good a time as any to share simple and quick weeknight dinners that don’t involve a lot of processed stuff.

One of the reasons I don’t post a ton of food pictures of my own meals is because I so often eat the same things…really, just a lot of variations on these recipes! And I figure seeing an endless parade of that could get a little old for you guys. But if you’re wondering what’s in frequent rotation in my kitchen…here’s a peek!

My signature Shedding It “Bowl.”

I used to do this a lot last summer as a way to use leftovers. Basically I took whatever protein I had and sliced it up and sauteed it with whatever veggies I had, along with some garlic and other spices. Then I’d add just throw it in a bowl with rice or couscous and some type of beans to make it complete.

When making a bowl, choosing a taste “theme” works well (like Mexican, Mediterranean, etc). My favorite combo is probably chicken + zucchini + onions + red pepper + garlic + Indian spices + couscous + chickpeas, but I also love doing it with Mexican food.

Frozen shrimp is something I almost always have in the freezer and it’s perfect for a bowl because it thaws so fast — pretty much in the time it takes to cut the veggies. It also tastes good with pretty much any flavor “theme.” This mango shrimp recipe is a good example of how I used frozen shrimp and a bunch of stuff I had around to make a bowl one night when I didn’t know what to eat.

Pasta with ricotta, dried cherries, and nuts.

If you like pasta because it’s quick and easy, you can make it more nutritious by really pimping it out with delicious and healthy add-ins. Think any good cheese + any dried fruit + nuts. I’ve also added leftover grilled chicken and roasted squash. You definitely don’t have to follow a recipe on this one; the idea is to use what you have.

Pesto turkey burgers.

This is one of my favorite recipes ever! Mmm…delicious. It’s also great with chicken instead of turkey.

Pumpkin oatmeal.

Really, any kind of pimped-out oats are my lazy, go-to recipe. It’s my version of eating cereal for dinner. (I did it last night because I need to get to the grocery store today!)  I’ve cut back on this because I was pimping a little too hard and all that sugar was catching up to me. Now it’s more of a once-a-week treat that I still feel good about.

Pesto eggs.

Another huge WIN; a great breakfast but a hell of a dinner too! I have eggs for lunch several times a week, and pesto makes everything better.

Apple and fennel quesadilla.

I think of this as a grown up way to have a PB & J for dinner. It’s about as simple, but just better. It feels like a real meal. And really, it works with any fruit/cheese combo, which is great. Brie and pear?! HELLO.

The Feast.”

This is a favorite of mine because it’s like a smorgasboard! My poached egg protein plate is a similar variation. When you’re making dinner and have a weird combination of things on hand, it’s OK! A dinner doesn’t always have to look like a typical dinner.

Those are some of my favorite go-tos! And later today I’ll share some even more low-maintenance ways to eat more in the purple zone and less in the pink!

Anyone else have good meal suggestions to help avoid the lure of fast food, frozen dinners, and Lucky Charms?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Manon May 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

I’m a HUGE fan of the “bowl” meals!!! Being a single girl cooking for one most of the time it’s a great way to use up leftovers or just have a quickie go to meal when you aren’t in the mood to cook….love love looooove! One of my faves is brown rice/black beans/chicken with a little apple cider vinegar….then I throw in some avacado/tomato last second and top with a little greek yogurt goodness…..mmmm mmmmm good!
.-= Manon´s last blog ..Good Eats, Good for nothing Boys…. =-.


2 Kevin - @lunchboxsix May 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

My special lady friend and I make sautéed spinach, whole wheat penne, sun dried tomatoes, and half a cup roasted pine nuts, feta and olive oil. Mix it all up and you have a healthy dinner for two!
I am stealing your Mango Shrimp bowl idea. Cool?


3 Rachel May 13, 2010 at 11:02 am

You most definitely can steal the mango shrimp idea in exchange for that delicious penne dish you just shared!! Uhh…deal!


4 Kendra May 13, 2010 at 11:39 am

I buy these really inexpensive frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joes and I love to use them when I’m feeling lazy. One of the last concoctions I made with these was whole wheat penne, pesto, artichoke hearts, and scallops. So good.
.-= Kendra´s last blog ..Me and My Scale… A Love Story =-.


5 hbobier @ Basil Vodka May 13, 2010 at 12:24 pm

My go-to is more of a tool than a food. As in the beloved steamer basket. If I don’t know what to make, I’ll just throw whatever veggies I have on hand (which is always some combination of broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions and peppers) and steam them stovetop for 5-7 minutes. Easy peasy.


6 masha May 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

You’ve totally inspired me to add Pesto to my grocery list this week.

My go to meal has always been beans and rice. It’s just the way I was raised. You add a little cheese, a little salsa, tomatoes, maybe a few tortilla chips. If I have lettuce, I can make it into a salad. It never gets old.

I also recently rediscovered PB&J. It is hard to argue with that level of low maintenance.


7 Rachel May 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Masha, pesto is just the best ingredient ever…can save any recipe, I swear!! Always good to have handy!


8 Jen May 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Make guacamole (mine is avocado, tomato, cilantro, garlic powder, black pepper, lime juice). Shred lettuce. Add black beans (I prefer them cold), add sharp cheddar. Put all things in bowl and mix. I like to consider it a healthy taco salad. The guac is better than any salad dressing and MMMMMM soooo yummy. A chopped poblano or jalapeno pepper is also a welcome addition if you like your salads spicy.

If you’re feeling naughty, baked blue corn chips are also delish to crush and mix.


9 Carla Aldaco May 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I could go on for days with quick pasta recipes, but i shall spare you and share my go to of the week, a huge pot of soup that you can change up throughout the week. I started with a store bought rotisserie chicken, which i shredded up at home added that to chicken stock/broth, white beans, spinach, and diced tomato. So this is my base soup and depending on my mood, i add different things too it, pesto and croutons if I’m feeling and italian version, or cheddar cheese, salsa, and sour cream if i want a mexican version!


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