Family dinner is an important time, but not everyone likes eating healthy. This can create a conundrum when it comes to family dinner. Your kids or spouse may love certain dishes (such as macaroni and cheese or pizza), but those favorites are not always the best health-wise.
However, there is a happy medium you can achieve.
As long as you use good ingredients, understand the necessary steps, and are willing to break from your comfort zone, there is a range of healthy dinner recipes that will help your family eat better and keep them coming back for more.
Hearty, Delicious Healthy Dinner Recipes
Keeping your family healthy is easier than you might believe. Many assume switching to healthy dinner recipes will cause their family to turn up their nose at the meal, but the truth is everyone (even picky eaters) will go back for seconds if the food tastes good.
That middle ground is the goal with the following healthy dinner recipes. It is not just that they are better for you and your family's overall health, it is that they are packed with flavor.
As an added bonus, they also serve as a nice change of pace from traditional options.
1. Crab Cakes
The recipe that kicks off our guide is a healthy spin on traditional crab cakes. While not made in the same way as the ones you love, they still have the delicious flavor with little to none of the guilt.
To make these, you will need canola oil cooking spray (such as PAM), 2 teaspoons of canola oil, 1 diced jalapeno, 2 sliced scallions, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 medium green bell pepper, 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger root, 1 pound of crab meat (claw preferable), 1 teaspoon lime zest, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise, chili-garlic sauce.
That is a long, involved list, but it will all be worth it once you put these delicious cakes together.
First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking sheet with the spray.
Next, on a stove top or a conduction stove, heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over a medium-high setting, then add in scallion, green pepper, and jalapeno until the peppers soften.
Next, mix in the ginger and garlic, cook for one minute, and set everything aside.
While that cools, use a large mixing bowl to combine the pepper-scallion mixture with crab, lime juice, zest, cilantro, 1/2 cup Panko, egg, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, and salt.
From there, put the last 1/2 cup Panko down onto a plate. After mixing the crab mixture into 8 evenly-shaped crab cakes, gently roll them in the Panko and transfer them to a baking sheet. Spray all of the cakes with a light mist of canola cooking oil and then bake them until they are golden brown (roughly 10 minutes).
Turn them over once they hit that mark, and let the other side cook for 10 more minutes. As they bake, stir together the yogurt with the rest of the mayonnaise/chili-garlic sauce.
Once the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and top each of them with roughly 1/2 teaspoon of the spicy cream.
2. Almond Salsa Salmon
Not everyone likes fish, but everyone will enjoy adding this to their healthy dinner recipes. This salmon dish is a unique twist on similar food items, providing you a bit of life and fun to one of the healthiest foods on Earth.
The ingredients for this dish are as follows: 12-ounce salmon fillet (cut into 4 pieces), freshly ground pepper, coarse-grained salt, and the toasted almond salsa.
To make the salsa, you’ll need 1 shallot, 2 tablespoons capers, 1 cup of fresh-leaf parsley, 1/2 cup toasted almonds, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil.
First, make the salmon. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and season the fish with a mixture of salt and pepper.
Take the fillets and place them skin-side down on a non-stick baking sheet (non-stick pan works as well). Put it into the oven and let it cook all the way through (between 12 and 15 minutes). One that’s done, take the fish out and serve it with or alongside the salsa.
To make the salsa, begin by finely chopping the shallot and scraping it into a small bowl. Next, pour vinegar over the shallots and add in a pinch of salt. Let the entire mixture sit by itself for roughly 30 minutes.
Coarsely chop the capers, parsley, and almonds and add them to the shallots. Finish with the olive oil, tasting as you go. If the first try is not up to your standards, simply adjust the amount you add in and try again.
Though this dish (as with most healthy dinner recipes) works on its own, you can also garnish it with lemon or serve it with a side of tasty vegetables to give it an extra layer of flavor.
3. Chicken Breast Medley
Though fish and crab are both tasty options when it comes to good healthy dinner recipes, chicken is a long-time staple that does a lot for your health.
For this lean, protein-based dish, you’ll need salt, 1 and 1/2 cups of orecchiette, 1/2 pound of cut green beans, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3 cups baby arugula, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of almonds or hazelnuts, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/2 cup of packed fresh parsley, 2 medium tomatoes (halved), 4 small boneless chicken breasts, and 2 tablespoons of whole-wheat breadcrumbs.
As with the two above healthy dinner recipes, this chicken dish is much simpler than the long list of ingredients suggests.
First, make the pasta salad. Boil a pot of salted water and add in the pasta. Roughly three minutes before the pasta finishes, add in green beans.
Let everything finish and drain/rinse it. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and lemon zest.
Next, puree the arugula with nuts, lemon juice, parsley, 3 tablespoons water, the rest of the cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil into a bowl.
Take the chicken breasts and pound them down to roughly 1/2 inch thick. Move them to a foil-lined baking sheet and season them with salt. Rub them with a 1/4 cup of the pesto blend and broil them until they cook all the way through (about five minutes per side).
Broil the tomatoes, sprinkle them with breadcrumbs and pesto, and serve everything together at once.
4. Macaroni and Cheese
Nothing says family dinner like macaroni and cheese. The dish has long been an American staple, but it is one of the unhealthier meals around. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The ingredients for this one are 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, sea salt, pepper, 1/2 pound pasta, a small onion, 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 coarsely grated smoked mozzarella, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 cup grated parmesan, 2 1/2 cups whole milk, 2 cloves of garlic, and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, butter a 1 1/2-quart baking dish and cook the pasta in a salted pot of water. Drain the water, run the pasta under cold water and drain it again before moving it into a large bowl.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Once it gets warm, add in the onion with a pinch of salt and bring the heat down to medium-low. Slowly cook the onion through until it becomes soft and golden brown (about 10 minutes).
At this point, stir the onion into the pasta and add the chicken, 2/3 cup Parmesan, rosemary, and mozzarella.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a different pan and add flour, whisking for three minutes. Stir in hot milk (whisking quickly) and add garlic along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
Bring everything to a simmer and reduce the heat until it all becomes thick (you can test this on the back of a spoon). Take out the garlic and then pour the sauce into the pasta. Season it with pepper (adjusting for your preferences) and stir.
Once everything is together, transfer it to the baking dish and smooth the top. Put the rest of the Parmesan on it and bake until golden brown.
A New Way to Bring People Together
Healthy dinner recipes can be tricky because there are many routes to take. You can make something entirely different, or you can put a new twist on an old favorite. What you choose depends on how you want to introduce new meals to your family.
The four above options are sure to leave you and your family satisfied, but they are far from the only healthy dinner recipes. Use them as a strong starting point, test to see what works, and then branch out to similar dishes down the line.