Saturday, November 12, 2011

The "What can I eat that's healthy?" Series (Part 3: Dinner)

So we talked about breakfast and lunch, which leaves us at dinner. A tricky meal, that's for sure. By the time it rolls around, we're usually fairly hungry. And then there's the social aspect of dinner. Eating out is fun, but it can be a huge challenge for any healthy eater. So what's such a person to do? Approach it just like you approach your breakfast and lunch. Pack and plan if you've got the type of schedule that requires dinner on the go. If that's not you, you should still be planning. Never go to the grocery store without a list. You'll come home with a bag full of food that might not equate to anything worth serving at the dinner table.

Consult cookbooks, food magazines and old favorites for ideas and build your grocery list accordingly. If you have old favorites, keep a list of them somewhere. Tack it inside the door of your pantry or spice cabinet for quick reference. Or save printouts in a tabbed binder, which essentially becomes a cookbook that you yourself made. Fun, right?

The more you get involved with your meals, the more you appreciate their nutritious value—and the more you learn to see what's healthy and what might not be so. Self educating in this way helps you when you're at restaurants, too. And it inspires you to get creative in your own kitchen (by modifying recipes to meet your needs, for example). And let's face it, nothing beats a well-plated meal that's also quite healthy.

So where to start? Try some of my favorites.

We make these a lot in our house. Why? Because they're good, and the leftovers usually come aplenty. Lysander's All Natural Taco Seasoning keeps the sodium count down and the health factor up. It's more expensive, but half a pack gets the job done. And it comes with two packs. Pick corn tortillas to cut carbs and calories, low-fat cheese to cut the fat down.

Chicken Breasts
Buy them in bulk! Chicken sandwiches. Chicken on a salad. Chicken in pasta... You can even grind it up in a food processor for tacos. To make sure they don't go bad, freeze individually and thaw as needed. We usually freeze two breasts per bag because there's only two of us eating them, but you might do more depending on your family's needs.

Salisbury Steaks
This meal never appealed to me until I tried a recipe out of Cooking Light. I was "taking one for the team" at the time. But now, it's in the rotation somewhat frequently. The hubs LOVES it. So do I. It's hearty, but healthy and good. And if you play your cards right, you'll have wonderful leftovers for lunch the next day.

Cooking Light
Speaking of...this might be the best food magazine, hands down. I tab out at least five dinner recipes in every issue. The ingredients are manageable, and every recipe ends with the nutrition information. You might also like Clean Eating.

The hubs and I don't usually get to enjoy a nice, hot breakfast in the morning. But we both really love this meal, so sometimes we make it our dinner. Our go-to is usually omelettes and toast, but we're not good at making actual omelettes, so it ends up being more like scrambled eggs and veggies. With the toast, of course. Never, ever a dull meal. At least in our opinion.

Everyone shies away from pasta, and with good reason. But it's not so hard to make a healthy pasta dish, and we do so quite often at our house. You can try the whole wheat noodles, but I think they're an acquired taste, which is why we usually stick with the regular noodles—but we pick noodles that are bigger so that we don't eat as many of them. They become secondary to all the wonderful veggies and chicken chunks we throw in the sauce. Pasta is also easy to make in bulk, which means more dinners and lunches for you throughout the week. Remember, you can always freeze what you might not get to. 

Your Supermarket's Deli
Ours is pretty good. We shop it when we know that certain nights ahead won't leave us with time to cook dinner. There are usually a fair amount of healthy options, but also some not-so-healthy options which you'll have to learn to avoid. Staple choices for us include the seasoned chicken breasts or the seasoned Tilapia. Steamed veggies and whole-grain side dishes. It really just depends on what they're offering. But don't be so quick to pass it by.

1) Take an appropriate serving size and leave the rest for lunch. If you measure right, you'll eat right.
2) Don't be afraid to cook. It really, truly is fun.
3) Eating out is an art form, but it's certainly one you can master. (Get the to-go box up front!)

So what's next now that we've covered our three meals? Snacks.

Question: What are your favorite healthy dinner foods?

1 comment: said...

This is great, Tara!  

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