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Healthy Recipes for Delicious Dinners

My family loves to eat. When I am gathered with my brothers and their families, we talk about the food we are going to eat for dinner while we are still eating lunch! Our love affair with food began with a mother who was an excellent cook and baker. She was adventurous in the kitchen, learning to make foods from various cultures,fina in addition to cake decorating. While our often made-from-scratch dinners always had vegetables, the understanding of “healthy” was quite different in the 60s when she started raising her family.

I have learned a lot about nutrition since the days of eating enchiladas, lasagna, enriched white bread sandwiches, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and strawberry pie with reckless abandon. Some of my “education” has come through trying to manage health issues…

Lisa martinez

I have learned a lot about nutrition since the days of eating enchiladas, lasagna, enriched white bread sandwiches, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and strawberry pie with reckless abandon. Some of my “education” has come through trying to manage health issues—such as learning to live with migraine headaches for 30 years, chronic neck pain, and infertility. Work experience has also taught me about food; I previously worked in catering and hospitality for several years, and then for a fitness company. I have gained great insights through reading and personal research, such as learning more about gut health in the GAPS diet, trying the Whole 30, watching documentaries like “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”—one of the inspirations for making our own cold-pressed juice, and more. 

Though struggling with inflammation, I do not punish myself for not strictly following any protocol right now. But I often draw from the paleo diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs, nuts, and certain healthful oils. This diet involves avoiding gluten, grains, dairy (but dang, I love cheese), legumes, and nightshades, and the bad whites (processed sugar, flour, etc). 

The healthy recipes featured here are dinners that fit three criteria for me: 

1) Delicious
2) Whole-30 compliant
3) Simpler preparation

If you make one of these healthy recipes and share it online, please tag us and tell us what you think!

[BONUS: Check out the best of the best healthy recipes I’ve shared for healthy breakfasts and dinners: 
Easy Paleo Breakfast: The Best Pumpkin Muffins 
Favorite Fall Recipes: Healthy & Hearty 
Healthier Zucchini Bread
Breakfast Blueberry Collagen Smoothie]

You need to have an easy, delicious chicken recipe in your rotation—and this is mine. Buying a rotisserie chicken often means sacrificing nutrition—not grass-fed, could use seasoning with MSG. This roasted chicken is just as good, if not better, and in most grocery stores you can snag a natural whole chicken for the cost of just skinless chicken breasts.

STUPID SIMPLE ROAST CHICKEN 

(GLUTEN-FREE, WHOLE30, PALEO)

“This is so easy it’s stupid.” Don’t let the high-temp fool you, this chicken is so moistthe lemon is the trick!

My adaptation from this recipe via allrecipes.com

Prep time: 10 min  |  Cook Time: 1 hour  |  Yields:  6 servings (1 whole chicken) 

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-lb) whole free-range chicken, rinsed and dried
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Crushed rosemary, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

2. Remove giblets from cavity and rinse the whole chicken in cold water. Thoroughly dry (to prevent sogginess and smoking in the high-temp oven). Tips: Set chicken upright to drain and dry, setting the cavity in a cup—can be in the refrigerator for several hours or at least for 30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Place chicken in a roasting pan and insert lemon halves into the cavity.

4. Spread kosher salt over outside of chicken. Sprinkle with garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed rosemary.

5. Roast chicken in preheated oven until skin is browned and crisp, the juices run clear, and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, not touching bone, reads 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 1 hour. 

6. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Nutrition Facts here.

Suggested pairingsCarrot-Sweet Potato Mash or Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ghee and Cinnamon, Sauteed Green Beans or Roasted Vegetables.

GREAT LEFTOVER CHICKEN TIP: Not Paleo or Whole30-compliant due to the grains, but for a lighter gluten free, non-dairy, meal with your leftover chicken using an Instapot or slow cooker, try this remarkable Dairy Free Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. From Mary’s Whole Life, it is a “dupe for Panera Bread’s Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup” but full of nutrition. I prepare the recipe as is, without adding the chicken; then at the end, before I add the cashew cream or full-fat coconut milk, I add my shredded chicken from my leftovers. This soup is sooo good that even my husband who can sniff out a healthy substitution from the next room loves it!   

We did not grow up eating Picadillo, a traditional Latin American dish of ground beef and potatoes simmered in tomato sauce. But I now favor it over making taco meat with seasoned ground beef. The flavor profile is so much richer with the addition of the vegetables. This is considered the easy version of picadillo, but I’ve still made it for guests who have gone back for seconds. 

PICADILLO 

(GLUTEN-FREE, WHOLE30)

“Ground beef and potatoes cooked in a tomato sauce is a dish known as picadillo sencillo, or carne molida con papas. All the ingredients are usually chopped before cooking. ‘Chopping’ in Spanish is ‘picar’ or ‘cortar,’ which is where the dish gets its name.” -Mely Martinez

My adaptation from this recipe by Mely Martínez at mexicoinmykitchen.com

Prep time: 15 min  |  Cook Time: 20 min  |  Yields:  6 servings 

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef 85/15%
  • ⅓ cup white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ to 1 serrano pepper, diced (rib and seed if you want flavor and less heat)
  • 1 ½ cup potato, peeled and diced (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 lb tomatoes, diced (about 2 large tomatoes)
  • Not Beef Bouillon Cube (vegan, or other compliant beef bouillon) 
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat a large skillet (that has a lid; not recommended to use cast iron since this recipe simmers tomatoes), add avocado oil; once oil is hot, add the ground beef to cook. Break up large lumps of meat using a wooden spoon to make sure all the little pieces are well cooked. Sauté until brown, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Stir, cooking for about 1 minute—just enough to allow the onion to get transparent. Then add serrano pepper (I start with half and then see if the spiciness is ok before adding more) plus diced potatoes. Stir and keep cooking until potatoes are slightly tender, but still firm. This will take about 5 more minutes because you will continue cooking them when you add the tomatoes.

3. Now, add the diced tomatoes and Not Beef Bouillon cube and stir again. The tomatoes will release their juices and the beef bouillon will dissolve, adding more flavor to the picadillo. Place a lid on your skillet and lower the heat. Keep cooking the picadillo until your potatoes are completely cooked and the tomatoes have formed a thick sauce.

4. Finally, season with salt and pepper and add the chopped cilantro.

Suggested pairings: To keep this compliant, serve with cilantro lime cauliflower rice and my favorite, Siete Almond Tortillas. Traditionally it would be served with rice and corn tortillas. But still so good – so enjoy!

I’ve grown to love seafood, and salmon is one of my favorites. Baked fish is not generally well-received here–my husband’s idea of fish is predominantly in stick or taco form. I have found that he is more likely to eat these salmon patties, aka salmon cakes, especially if he puts it in a bun with the lemon dill mayo! I’ve made this without the parsley and dill if I don’t have fresh herbs at hand, and it is still superb!

SALMON PATTIES 

(GLUTEN-FREE, PALEO)

The best combination: flavorful, moist, delectable and low carb! For a quick, simple weeknight dinner, can substitute canned salmon (see the tips below).

This recipe is by Lisa Bryan at downshiftology.com

Prep time: 15 min  |  Cook Time: 30 min  |  Yields:  10 servings 

Ingredients:

  • 1-pound fresh salmon (see tips below for types of salmon)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp homemade mayonnaise (this 3-minute recipe from tasteslovely.com is our fav!)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

LEMON DILL MAYONNAISE (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).
  2. Drizzle the salmon with a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoning generously with salt and fresh pepper. Cook for approximately 10-13 minutes, or until just cooked through. 

Note: The salmon will also be sauteed in patty form, so don’t overcook it!

  1. While baking the salmon, dice the onion and bell pepper. Chop the fresh dill and parsley.
  2. When ready, remove the salmon from the oven, place it in a container, and cool in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
  3. While cooling, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and sauté the onion and bell pepper for 6-8 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. Use your hands to remove skin and flake the cooled salmon in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled onion and bell pepper along with the dill, parsley, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, garlic, almond flour, and eggs. With your hands, mix all ingredients well.
  5. Form into small salmon patties with your hands and place them to the side.
  6. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Cook the salmon patties for 3-4 minutes on each side. 
  7. Remove the salmon patties, place on a paper towel lined plate.
  8. Serve the salmon patties with the lemon dill mayonnaise (if desired). A squeeze of lemon juice is simple and also delightful.

LEMON DILL MAYONNAISE Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.

SALMON PATTY TIPS FROM LISA BRYAN:

  • You can bake these in the oven rather than pan fry. Spray a baking sheet with oil spray (my fav is avocado oil) and bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes per side.
  • King Salmon has a high oil content and is naturally a moister fish. You may only need 1 beaten egg if using King Salmon.
  • Canned Salmon can be dryer than using fresh salmon. You may want to double the amount of mayonnaise, to 1/4 cup, to keep your salmon patties nice and moist.
  • Great in a large batch for meal prep, they’re delicious. They freeze and reheat beautifully.

BONUS: Do yourself a favor and try Lisa Bryan’s BLT Salad at downshiftology.com. It is one of the few salads that we both love and that I can get Mike to eat as a meal. The mayonnaise dressing is the best tasting compliant “ranch” I’ve ever had. My tweaks to this recipe are to use my favorite Baby Sweet Leaf Spring Blendof Lettuce, and add chopped deli turkey breast so it’s like a club salad! I haven’t been able to find the radish sprouts at my grocery store, so have skipped those.

Delicious and nutritious, hopefully you enjoy these healthy recipes for dinner as much as we do! If you tried and liked any of our featured recipes, drop a comment below to let others know your favorites, or tag us on Facebook or Instagram! Have a favorite healthy meal you’d like us to try or feature? Please let us know!

About Author

Creative, Entrepreneur & Silly-Heart. Christ has called her to bring the broken to His Sacred Heart. Calls Austin home with her mountain-man husband, Mike, who she loves to travel through life with as well as around the world.

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