Coming home to some quick and delicious dinner ideas after a long day out is key to reducing stress in the kitchen and keeping health on track! Similarly, research has shown people who regularly cook at home are more likely to eat a healthier overall diet. If you are feeling a little uninspired by dinner ideas or find coming up with ideas is an exhausting process, here are some ideas to make dinner time a more enjoyable part of your day:
The ideal dinner plate is made up of:
- ½ plate low starch vegetables eg leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, tomato, zucchini, capsicum, green beans, Asian greens, eggplant, snowpeas etc
- ¼ plate lean protein eg chicken, fish, eggs, red meat, tofu/tempeh, legumes, dairy
- ¼ plate complex-carbohydrates eg rice, quinoa, sweet potato/potato, corn, wholemeal pasta, brown rice noodles or ancient grains
- small portion of healthy fats eg extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocado
Using the above as a dinner template, some quick suggestions, which require little to no planning include:
- grilled steak with brown rice, zucchini noodles, avocado, tomato and feta salad
- baked salmon/fish with mashed sweet potato and stir-fried broccoli, bok choy and asparagus with crushed cashews
- tempeh/tofu stir-fry with capsicum, snowpeas, quinoa and pumpkin seeds
- chive, tomato and capsicum omelette with a roasted sweet potato, spinach and avocado salad
Another great way to be prepared for a quick dinner during the week is having some staples on hand, that can easy be transformed into a dish. One of my favourites is a healthy tomato sauce.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
3 truss tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. salt reduced tomato paste
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp. of honey
1 tsp. lemon zest
small squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. sea salt
1-2 tbsp. chives, chopped
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients aside from the chives, saute for 5 minutes and cook until reduced. Allow to cool and top with chives. Store leftovers in a glass airtight container for a few days and freeze after.
Simple meal ideas using the sauce:
- Spoon 1 tbsp. sauce onto a fillet of raw fish, top with thinly sliced zucchini, wrap in paper and bake in the oven for 15-20min until cooked through. For a vegetarian version use haloumi and vegan use tofu.
- Toss through cooked brown rice or wholemeal pasta (or zucchini noodles), leftover roasted vegetables and serve as a side dish with chicken, steak, fish or simply add some legumes such as chickpeas to make into a satisfying meal.
- Use as a pizza base sauce, top with roasted vegetables and cheese for a quick homemade pizza!
Finally, if you have a little more time to shop for ingredients but want a recipe, which takes next to no time to prep and cook, my go to is quinoa chaufa, my twist on Peruvian fried rice.
Quinoa Chaufa (Peruvian fried ‘rice’)
Time 25 minutes
2 cups white quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 tbsp. soy sauce/tamari
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch spring onions, chopped finely
1 tbsp. ginger, grated
1 cup broccoli, cut into florets
1 red capsicum, sliced finely
1 cup snow peas, cut diagonally
1 carrot, diced
1 red chilli, sliced finely, optional
1 cup cabbage, shredded
? cup slivered almonds
Heat wok/frying pan with olive oil, pour egg mixture on base of fry pan, cook on one side, flip over and cook on other side, take off heat, drain on paper towel, and cut into thin strips.
Add garlic, ginger, chilli and onion to the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant, add broccoli, cabbage and carrot and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, add capsicum and snowpeas, cook until tender.
Toss quinoa into the pan, combine well, drizzle with soy sauce and toss well, stir in spring onions and omelette, combine well.
Take off the heat and top with extra spring onions and almonds.
NB: if you have leftover roasted chicken you can shred and add on top also.