You’ve probably heard the saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but when you’re trying to lose weight, what you eat for dinner is important, too. A healthy dinner can make the difference between shedding pounds and feeling satisfied during the evening, or overeating, gaining weight and feeling sluggish at night. You should focus on a few key nutrients when planning healthy dinners, but leave lots of room for variety in your dinner menus so you won’t get bored.
Here are 5 easy healthy dinner recipes:
1. Grilled Pesto Chicken with Summer Squash
Toasted walnuts upgrade store-bought pesto, the perfect spread for this classic grilled chicken and squash dish.
- Heat grill to medium-high. Stir together walnuts, pesto, and fresh lemon juice. Thin with 1 tablespoon water, if necessary. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Toss 3 zucchini and 2 yellow squash (cut lengthwise into thick slices) with olive oil and kosher salt and black pepper.
- Season 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets with salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend, and kosher salt and black pepper.
- Grill chicken until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Grill squash until tender, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Serve vegetables and chicken topped with pesto and fresh basil.
2. Dijon-Smothered Chicken Legs with Broccolini
A white wine, cream, and Dijon batter give juicy drumsticks maximum flavor.
- Heat broiler to high. Prepare frozen steam and mash cut potatoes according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, season drumsticks with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss with 1/4 cup flour. Cook in butter in a large skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Whisk together chicken stock, white wine, heavy cream, whole-grain Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon flour, and chopped thyme. Pour over chicken, scraping any browned bits. Cook, partially covered, turning occasionally until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss together broccolini, olive oil, lemon, and chopped garlic cloves on baking sheet. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Broil until lightly charred, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce on potatoes with broccolini alongside.
3. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Barley and Arugula
Some times a simple salad won’t cut it for dinner, which is why this salad uses the meaty sweet potato to add flavor and nutrition. Play around with the starches you have on hand for an easy weeknight meal.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, 2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain off any remaining water in the pan and spread the barley on a baking sheet to cool.
- Meanwhile, on a second baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon cumin, pinch cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add onion, toss and let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the barley to the bowl and toss to combine. Gently fold in the sweet potatoes, then the arugula and mint. Serve with feta, if desired.
4. Rosemary Skillet Pork Chops with Quick Braised Cabbage
Cooking these pork chops in a skillet makes a fast, fun, no-fuss dinner.
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook on one side until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn the chops, scatter the garlic and rosemary around the chops and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the chops are just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a second large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar and 3 tablespoons water and simmer, covered, until nearly all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes; stir in the remaining vinegar. Serve with the pork chops, garlic and rosemary.
5. Indian-Spiced Chicken and Cauliflower
Spice up your usual chicken and veggies with a kick of Indian spices.
- In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together the tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Add the chicken, cauliflower, onion and raisins to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.
- Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions. Spoon the chicken mixture over the rice and top with the cilantro. Serve with yogurt and lemon wedges, if desired.