15 Healthy 10-Minute Dinner Ideas
Last Updated: Feb 20, 2014
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A demanding job, a busy social life and an active family can take up so much of your time. Your calendar may be packed, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to drive-through fast food and frozen pizzas. We’ll show you how to cook nutritious meals that are quick and easy. A home-cooked dinner is better for your family’s health ─ both physically and emotionally. A 2011 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that healthy, home-prepared meals evoke positive emotions and increase the likelihood that your next meal will be healthy. Read on to see 15 healthy recipes that will nourish the body and mind. What’s more, they’ll take only about 10 minutes to prepare, start to finish.
AVOCADO AND BLACK BEAN BURRITOS
This delicious dish can be a quick, nutritious dinner for the family. “Avocados are packed with vitamins and heart-healthy fats, which can improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart problems,” says dietitian and nutritionist Renee Clerkin. Avocados are also loaded with fiber, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B-6, vitamin C and vitamin E. Incorporate this nutritious fruit into a fast and easy burrito meal by combining chopped avocado, black beans, lemon juice and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture into whole-grain tortillas and roll them into burritos. If you like to dress your burritos up with dipping sauces or toppings, try using low-calorie options such as salsa or yogurt.
Full recipe: Avocado and Black Bean Burritos
Fish cooks more quickly than beef or chicken and is an equally great source of protein, so consider fish when you’re in a hurry. If you need to pull together an elegant dinner quickly, dietitian and health coach Cassie Bjork suggests pan-seared scallops. Simply heat up a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, toss in a pinch of garlic, and then cook the scallops for about 3 minutes on each side. While the scallops are cooking, throw a bag of frozen veggies or sweet potatoes into the microwave for an easy side. “This meal makes for a quick, balanced dinner containing protein and nutritious carbohydrates,” says Bjork.
Full recipe: Pan-Seared Scallops
Mexican fare can be healthy and quick if you make a few adjustments. For example, if you’re craving a stuffed taco or loaded nachos, whip up a taco salad instead. Chop up vegetables and add them to a bed of lettuce, then crumble tortilla chips and a small amount of grated cheddar cheese on top. Create a dressing made of olive oil, lime and cilantro leaves. Vegetables that work well in this tasty dish include tomatoes, black beans, corn, peppers and onions. Adorn with sliced avocado for a boost of nutrients and healthy fat. If you’re not an avocado fan, substitute precooked grilled chicken for some protein power. Skip the sour cream, which adds around 60 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat per ounce, and go for Greek yogurt or salsa instead.
Full recipe: Taco Salad
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VEGGIE FRIED RICE
To save time making traditional veggie fried rice, dietitian Renee Clerkin suggests using frozen, precooked brown rice, instant brown rice, or preparing the rice a day in advance. She also recommends sticking with a fried rice staple ─ green peas. “Peas offer a plant-based source of protein and are a good source of fiber with little fat and no cholesterol,” says Clerkin. These nutrient-rich legumes contain 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein in every ½ cup serving. “Another time-saver is to use jarred chopped garlic and ginger,” she advises. To give fried rice a protein boost, try adding two beaten eggs to the mix. Season the dish with a splash of sesame oil and reduced-sodium soy sauce.
Full recipe: Veggie Fried Rice
To make this favorite comfort food more, create a white pizza using a thin, whole-wheat crust, which will cut down on calories and boost fiber. Drizzle the crust with olive oil and spread a combination of cheeses, garlic, artichoke hearts and any additional vegetables you have on hand. Since there is no meat, you can bake the pizza in about 8 minutes at 500 degrees. It’s a crowd pleaser, and it also holds its own nutritionally. Artichoke hearts contain a variety of nutrients including protein, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Additionally, garlic has been shown to be heart healthy.
Full recipe: White Pizza
Get a delicious dose of protein and vitamin-packed veggies by whipping up a stir-fry. Simply toss precooked chicken chunks, fresh chopped vegetables and a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and cook for around 8 minutes. “Stir- fry is quick, easy and provides a balance of protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates,” says Cassie Bjork, registered dietitian and owner of Dietitian Cassie. Serve over whole-grain rice and season to taste. Most grocery stores sell precooked rice or minute rice, which cuts down on preparation time. Another option is to make a pot of rice at the beginning of the week to have on hand to add to meals at a moment’s notice.
Full recipe: Easy Stir-Fry
AVO-COCONUT BERRY SMOOTHIE
If you’re running out the door for evening obligations and need a healthy meal to take on the go, reach for the blender. “For a balanced meal when you’re in a rush, whip up a nutritionally packed smoothie to nourish your body during those extra-busy times,” says dietitian Cassie Bjork. An essential ingredient is protein, which should be included in the form of a high-quality protein powder or an egg or two. One egg contains about 7 grams of protein. Bjork also suggests adding a healthy fat such as half an avocado, a couple of tablespoons of nuts or half a cup of coconut milk. Top off with your favorite berries for a kick of energy-boosting carbohydrates.
Full recipe: Avo-Coconut Berry Smoothie
GREENS, FRUIT AND CHICKPEA WRAP
Wraps are nutritious and convenient meals, and leftover fillings can be used to round out tomorrow's packed lunch. Combine a spicy green like arugula and a chopped, firm fruit like apple with garbanzo beans and goat cheese in a bowl, and season with your favorite salad vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix up this tangy combination, spread it onto a whole-grain tortilla and wrap tightly. This easy meal provides many nutrients. A cup of chickpeas alone provides 16 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. This recipe is also flexible. You can substitute other fruits and proteins, such as oranges, grapes, chicken breast and tofu, for the apple and chickpeas.
Full recipe: Greens, Fruit and Chickpea Wrap
BREAKFAST FOR DINNER
Breakfast food isn’t just for mornings. Mix it up and have your eggs for dinner. Eggs are high in protein, and they provide iron, vitamin D and two nutrients that support eye health, lutein and zeaxanthin. They also cook quickly. For a quick egg fix, scramble 2 to 3 eggs. Stir in whatever vegetables you have on hand, and if you have a jar of salsa, top off your concoction with a zing. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have a healthy and satisfying end to your day. “This combination creates a balanced meal containing all 3 macronutrients: protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates,” says dietitian Cassie Bjork.
Full recipe: Breakfast for Dinner
CRUNCHY KALE SALAD
Massaging kale is a quick way to change its texture so it’s easier to chew without the hassle and time it takes to cook it. Remove the ribs and rub bunches of the leafy greens together in both hands until they shrink and darken. You can create tasty, crunchy and healthy salads with kale by combining it with nuts, fruits and lean meats. “This no-cook method will save you time and also ensure all the nutrients are preserved,” says nutritionist Renee Clerkin. A serving of kale comes loaded with more than your daily needs of vitamins A and C ─ plus many other beneficial trace nutrients.
Full recipe: Crunchy Kale Salad
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THAI TIME WRAP
Cheaper and quicker than heading to your nearest Thai restaurant, this healthy wrap made with tofu can satisfy your Thai craving in minutes. Combine baked tofu and store-bought Thai peanut sauce with your choice of fresh vegetables, and wrap in a whole-wheat flour tortilla or spring roll rice paper. If you are a diehard carnivore, switch out the baked tofu for precooked grilled chicken. (Another option is to grill up a large portion of chicken breast at the beginning of the week to have on hand.) Either way, you get a nice dose of protein as well as an array of vitamins, fiber and nutrients from your veggies. Some brands of firm or extra-firm tofu contain 20 grams of protein per half-cup serving, while grilled chicken breast weighs in at 26 grams of protein per serving.
Full recipe: Thai Time Wrap
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BROILED PEAR AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD
For a fast dish with a sweet and savory flavor, nutritionist Renee Clerkin suggests a pear and goat cheese salad. Broiling the pear is a simple way to turn a dull salad into a gourmet meal. To broil the pear, slice the fruit and squeeze lemon juice on both sides of the slices, then broil on low for three to four minutes or until pear is soft and golden. Make sure to keep the skin on the pear. “Recent studies have shown that the skin of pears contains at least three times as many phytonutrients and double the fiber content as its flesh,” says Clerkin. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and then toss with salad greens and top with cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese and broiled pear slices.
Full recipe: Broiled Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
Avocados are packed with healthy fats and nutrients. At 507 milligrams of potassium per serving, one avocado contains more of this crucial mineral than a banana does, and it’s bursting with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Take advantage of this delicious and nutritious fruit and make it the main act in a meal by putting a twist on the everyday sandwich. Forego the bread and instead scoop tuna or chicken salad into two avocado halves. You’ll cut down on carbohydrates and boost the nutrients of your dinner.
Full recipe: Avocado "Sandwich"
For a dish that can hold its own with dinner guests, try a shrimp-based meal. You may find most of the ingredients in your pantry already; just send your partner or friend on a shrimp run. Heat olive oil in a pan, and then add minced garlic, stirring until it's golden. Add precooked shrimp, cooked white beans, salt, thyme and other savory seasonings. Gently heat the mixture until it’s warm and thoroughly mingled. Garnish with lemon and serve with a side of precooked or minute rice and steamed veggies. Shrimp are low in calories, contain a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving, and they make an ordinary dish seem more impressive.
Full recipe: Shrimp Sensation
TUNA AND WHITE BEAN SALAD
This delicious meal can be made in minutes and packs a double punch of protein. Tuna contains around 20 grams of protein per 3 ounces and cooked white beans have around 19 grams of protein per cup. Put them together and you’ve got a match made in protein heaven. Combine white beans, tuna, lemon juice and chopped tomatoes. Mix up the ingredients and serve over healthy greens such as a spring salad or spinach leaves. This substantial salad bursting with protein can help fill you up and keep you satisfied so you’ll be less likely to crave after-dinner sweets.
Full recipe: Tuna and White Bean Salad
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you have time to cook dinner most nights? What is your favorite quick and easy go-to dinner? Share your recipe or ideas below in the comments section. Is it hard to maintain healthy eating habits when your schedule gets hectic? How do you do it? Do you notice that you feel better and more positive when you eat healthy? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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