Let’s Cook Dinner!
Two Quick and Easy Meals to Feed Your Family on Weeknights
By Leslie Funk
School just started and the pace of daily life is increasing. Chances are you feel a bit burned out when faced with the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” The nutritional goals of a home cooked meal are; lean protein, complex carbohydrates from plant sources that provide energy, fiber and nutrients, and heart-healthy fats. By making dinner at home you can insure your family gets the nutrition they need, while avoiding added sugar, bad fats and highly processed ingredients typically found in pre made store meals, restaurant food and fast food.
Here are three nutritious and delicious meals to try, complete with shopping lists and directions. Consider having your kids help with dinner preparation, it is a great way to teach them life skills while doing something together. Try giving options by asking your child to help make dinner tonight or help clean up the dishes after dinner. Odds are, food prep and cooking sound infinitely better than dish washing!
Onward to the recipes!
Sheet pan chicken with roasted potatoes and baby carrots
Chicken thighs are juicy and flavorful, and a huge hit with my family! Make extra, and you can chop up the meat for a lunch dish or dinner on another night.
Roasted potatoes are delicious, while providing vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Carrots add a sweetness to this dinner, combined with beta-carotene and more potassium.
3-5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (adjust the amount based on your family size and if you want leftovers)
1 bag of Yukon Gold potatoes (8-10 medium potatoes)
1 bag of organic baby carrots
salt-free seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash, or Trader Joe’s salt free seasoning)
olive oil or canola oil non-stick spray
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Use 2 large sheet pans, spray with oil
Place chicken thighs on one sheet pan, single layer
Wash potatoes, leave skin on
Cut potatoes into 1 to 1 1/2 chunks, place in large bowl, add the baby carrots
Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and a few good shakes of the salt-free seasoning
Toss the potatoes and carrots to coat, then dump them on the second sheet pan
Put both sheet pans in the oven
Set timer for 30 minutes
After 30 minutes:
Check the chicken for doneness (juices run clear, temperature of 165 degrees)
Stir the potatoes and carrots; look for caramelization of the edges (browning)
Put back in the oven for 10 minutes, re-check
The chicken may be done first, so remove it and let cool
Roast the potatoes and carrots longer as needed to achieve desired level of browning.
Use up any leftover chicken meat in this dish, or make this dish Vegetarian.
Also great with grilled or broiled fish, lean ground beef or ground turkey.
Lots of fresh vegetables make this meal packed full of nutrition and flavor.
With rice and beans, this meal offers plenty of protein as a Vegetarian dish.
Get a protein: fish, lean ground beef or turkey, a vegan meat alternative if desired.
can of fire roasted tomatoes
2 cans of beans (black beans, pinto beans, or refried beans)
1 purple cabbage (or precut bagged cabbage)
2 red bell peppers
2 cups of cherry tomatoes or pear tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions
your favorite salsa
shredded cheese if desired
avocados or premade guacamole
pre made taco shells, or corn tortillas or chips
Taco seasoning of choice (for the ground meat or on the fish)
Cook up the Brown Rice
You can cook brown rice on the stove, in a pot with a lid.
One cup of dried brown rice will make about 3 cups cooked (I like to make a lot at once, then use it in different meals)
Add one Tablespoon of canola oil or olive oil to the pan. Pour in 1 cup brown rice, sauté it over mediumhigh heat for a few minutes
Then add 1 &1/4 cups of water, turn up the heat and bring to a boil
Put the lid on the pot of rice and turn the heat down to low Let simmer till the water is gone
Move off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and stir/fluff up the rice.
Stir in the can of fire roasted tomatoes
Cook up the ground meat or broil the fish
In a skillet on the stove, cook up the ground meat then add taco seasoning
Alternative Cooking Instructions
Set the oven to broil, and place fish on an oiled sheet pan, sprinkle with taco seasoning. Put under the broiler in oven for 4 minutes, then check for doneness. If not done, put it back for 2-3 minutes at time till done.
Chop up the Veggies
Chop up the cabbage, bell peppers, cilantro and green onions in bitesized pieces
Cut the tomatoes in half with a serrated knife
Slice up the avocados
Note: I like to put the veggies in little piles on a big cutting board, or in little bowls so people can add what they want to their own custom Taco Bowl
Heat up the Beans
Stove top in a pot, or dump the beans in a microwave safe container with a lid, heat for 3 minutes.
Set up the Toppings
Put out the salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, chips
Taco shells can be heated in the warm oven, corn tortillas wrapped in a moist paper towel then microwaved for 1-2 minutes.
Build a bowl! Each family member can now build their own custom taco bowl. I love to crush up some chips into mine for added crunch!