Are you looking for clean eating dinner recipes that are simple and affordable? For some reason, people often think that the term “clean eating” means a lot of money and a lot of work.
But, contrary to popular belief, preparing whole, clean, natural meals does not have to break your budget or your tight schedule. Now, for the sake of honesty and full disclosure, if you are used to frozen entrees and packaged side dishes, then yes, eating a little healthier will likely involve more effort than you are used to expending.
Chopping fresh veggies for a pasta sauce takes more time than simply opening a can. But, it also doesn't mean that you have to spend hours in the kitchen. The toxins and chemicals in prepared products can take a toll on your health, but sometimes all the information about good vs bad foods can be overwhelming.
If you listen to the experts, we should all be growing our own vegetables, drying our own herbs, and raising our own pastured chickens. Realistically, that's not likely to happen. So, where do you start? Healthy eating shouldn't be stressful, right? It's supposed to make you feel better – not confused and exhausted. And, it should taste good, too! After all, tofu and alfalfa sprouts are only beneficial if we can get our families to actually eat them.
So, it seems that there is a greater demand than ever for simple clean eating dinner recipes that we can enjoy eating and feel good about serving. The basic guidelines of clean eating are to make sure the ingredients are non-GMO, non-processed, and pesticide or chemical free.
As close to nature as possible. There are literally hundreds of options, but here are just a few that are easy to prepare and can be adapted to any family's preferences.
This recipe is healthiest if made with dried beans, but if you are in a hurry, canned works, too! Try to choose an organic brand that uses BPA-free linings.
A lot of people stay away from dried beans because they think they are a lot of work to prepare; but you might be surprised at how easy it really is. Simply measure the beans into a pot, cover with enough water to allow for swelling, put the lid on and place in the refrigerator overnight. You can even start your soak in the morning and let them sit while you are at work. Drain the beans, rinse well, and re-cover with fresh water for cooking. Really, it doesn't take any longer than opening several canned products; but, you do have to plan ahead.
1. Cook the beans in vegetable broth (or add soup cubes to water) in a large pot until tender. A stock pot that can be placed in the oven is best. Leave a little of the liquid in the pot, depending on how thick you like your chili. Keep in mind, if you are using canned tomatoes, the juice they are packed in will also provide extra liquid.
2. Add all ingredients and bring to a slow boil. You can saute the chopped veggies first, but I find it is an unnecessary – and time-consuming - step. From my experience, it tastes the same either way.
3. Once all the ingredients are soft, add extra spices if needed. A can of tomato paste or sauce can also be added if desired. Again, when using canned products, try to choose organic and BPA free.
4. Cover the pot and place it in the oven at about 200-250º, depending on how long it will be warming. The cooked chili can also be placed in a crock pot. If you choose not to add the bulgur or buckwheat, this dish freezes well. It is also delicious served over rice or spaghetti squash.
1. Cook rice in vegetable or chicken broth according to package directions.
2. In a large pot, sautee mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, bell pepper until tender.
3. Add in tomatoes and black beans, and continue to cook until beans are heated.
4. Stir in rice and spices.
5. Heat through if serving immediately, or place in a covered oven-safe pot/dish and cook at 250º.
6. This dish freezes and reheats well, so go ahead and make extra!
If you are making a meal with sausage or ground meat, just cook a little extra and set it aside for this recipe. It will save you a lot of time, making this one of the fastest (and easiest) dishes to prepare. And the ingredients listed are more suggestions rather than hard-and-fast rules. Basically, you can use almost any vegetable you have on hand, make a meatless version, or add some beans and spices to make a Tex-Mex filling.
**Quantity of each ingredient will depend on personal preference as well as the size/number of zucchini.
1. Cut the zucchini lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the center, seedy part.
2. Chop all other vegetables into small pieces. Stir in meat, spices, and grated cheese.
3. Place zucchini on greased or parchment-lined baking tray. Brush each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Cook at 375º for about 10 minutes (time may vary depending on size of zucchini). Remove Zucchini from the oven and stuff each half with prepared mixture. Sprinkle with additional cheese (optional).
5. Bake for about another 15-20 minutes, depending on size of zucchini and choice of ingredients.
1. Scrub or peel sweet potatoes. Cut into bite-sized cubes and place into large mixing bowl. Add two Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Stir until well coated.
2. Place potatoes on baking tray and cook at 325º until tender. Don't overcook. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, mix EVO, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, salt, garlic, pepper, and ginger.
4. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add onions. Pour in dressing and stir well.
5. Place in fridge to cool. The salad will need to be stirred a couple of times while chilling to mix any dressing that settles to the bottom. Add extra sugar/syrup or spices if desired.
**As a variation, try adding a little chili powder or replace the ginger with a Tbsp of powdered organic ranch dip/dressing mix.
This recipe involves a little bit of par-cooking, but then everything gets put into the slow cooker. You can use chicken breasts, thighs, or a mixture of both. It is great on it's own (with some steamed veggies on the side) or served over whole grain/gluten free pasta or rice. If you want to avoid the carbs, it is also delicious with spaghetti squash. Of course, fresh organic ingredients are always best!
1. Brown chicken pieces in a large pot, using your fat of choice. Olive oil shouldn't be heated above 325º, so be careful not to let the pan get too hot if using this option. Place browned meat in the bottom of slow cooker.
2. Coarsely chop tomatoes and place in the same pot that was used to brown the chicken. Cover and cook on medium heat until they are about the consistency of canned tomatoes. Add oregano, basil, salt, pepper and bay leaves.
3. Place chopped veggies over chicken in slow cooker. Pour the tomatoes over top.
4. Cook about 7-8 hours on low.
6. Serve with slotted spoon. Sprinkle with fresh grated organic Parmesan cheese just before serving.
7. For a more casserole like dish: Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker, cut into bite size pieces and put it back in the sauce. Stir in cooked whole grain pasta and top with organic cheese.
**If you don't want to use a slow cooker, this recipe can also be done in the oven or in a large pot on the stove top.
**For a thicker sauce, drain some of the liquid and/or add a can of organic (low sodium, no sugar added) tomato sauce or paste.
This is a great slow cooker recipe (although it can be done on the stove top as well). It only takes a few minutes to assemble all the ingredients (use mini carrots and you'll even save the peeling time), and is delicious paired with a salad, or a heated sprouted grain dinner roll.
1. Chop onion, carrots, and celery. Place in bottom of slow cooker.
2. Rinse lentils and place in slow cooker.
3. If using uncooked chicken, place pieces on top of vegetables and lentils. If the chicken is already cooked, it will be added later.
4. Pour in broth and add spices.
5. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
6. About 20 minutes before serving, use a slotted spoon to remove chicken pieces. Shred or chop the chicken and put it back in slow cooker. If you have cooked the chicken ahead of time, you may want to add it a little earlier so it has time to heat through. Chop spinach or Kale and add to soup.
7. Add more salt and/or pepper if desired.
8.Serve with a few sprigs of
fresh parsley or Parmesan cheese.
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I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.