The classics. We are, after all, creatures of comfort. We always go back to those classic dinners that we were raised on.
Due to our personal diet restrictions, our meals together can get a little tricky. We need them to be healthy and incredibly versatile. I’m no chef, but I do have LOTS of practice researching and modifying our meals! For that reason, dinners are by far our healthiest meal of the day!
Here are 10 classic American dinners and lots of ideas to make them healthier!
This go to meal is easy to switch up! Use whole wheat noodles. To go carb free, roast a spaghetti squash to use instead of noodles. Then, if tomato sauce brings up the reflux, switch to pesto for a delicious green substitute. Finally, sneak in some veggies. The recipe that we like HERE even puts some carrots into the meatballs. Brilliant!
2. Fried rice
Use brown rice or cauliflower rice as the base. This cauliflower rice found at Walmart and Target is awesome! I keep a few bags in the freezer at all times. This recipe I found combines both rices and looks tasty! Also, coconut aminos add just as much flavor as soy sauce without the allergens.
And as always, load up on the veggies and include some lean protein! Onion, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, peas, and green beans work well. Get creative! This is a wonderful meal to use up leftovers in the fridge!
3. Mexican (Tacos, Fajitas, Quesadillas, etc.)
Instead of traditional tacos, put the ingredients on lettuce for taco salad or wraps and cut a variety of healthy foods to pile on.
Or slice sweet potato with a mandolin and bake for sweet potato chips. Once done, pile on the toppings for healthier nachos. A personal favorite of ours! Additionally, try some plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It’s a little less fat, and it gets in some probiotics.
Make a whole wheat or grain free crust (cauliflower, tapioca starch.) Try a stronger flavored cheese so less is required, and for lactose issues use goat cheese instead.
Don’t forget to load on those veggies! While I give my kids some autonomy with this, I also prefer that we have MORE veggies and they pick off the ones they don’t like. In the end, they eat more veggies because they get tired! This goes for adults too! Sometimes I’m too lazy to get all of those mushrooms out!
Check out 74 more ways to make pizza healthy here
Use lean meat like beef, bison, or turkey. Or even consider a veggie burger! Next, sandwich it in with whole wheat buns, lettuce, sweet potato buns, or portobello mushrooms!
Try guacamole, a healthy plant based fat, instead of cheese. And of course, pile on the lettuce, tomato, and onion!
6. Breakfast For Dinner
Eggs are a staple in our home. Spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, and peppers all can make regular appearances here. Then, top it with a little cheese or (our favorite) goat cheese.
Make whole wheat pancakes or waffles. We do these wonderful banana pancakes every time! Prepare the dry mix ahead of time or double and freeze to make it quick and easy. Lastly, add some fruit to the top of pancakes and use less maple syrup.
7. Snack Night
We love a snack dinner for Family Night or when there’s a big game on.
When this is the case, our favorite healthy options are homemade french fries (roast some potato wedges/chunks in the oven), cut up fruit, veggies with hummus, stovetop popcorn, meatballs, turkey and cheese rollups, and our favorite dairy free artichoke dip.
Switch to more veggie soups like butternut squash, cauliflower, and carrot to make things easy!
For chicken soup, try whole wheat noodles. Or take out the noodles completely and substitute with cabbage. We learned this trick from a good friend!
9. Meat/Fish Dinners (Pork Chops, Chicken, Roast, Salmon)
We eat our meat and fish dishes with a few healthy sides. Here are the side staples.
- Sauteed spinach with chopped walnuts and raisins. It’s my all time favorite way to eat a vegetable, and it’s full of iron!
- Roasted/baked sweet or regular potato
- Sauteed green beans, peas, or carrots
- Homemade applesauce
- Any kind of roasted veggies (broccoli, butternut squash, asparagus, etc.)
- Rice or quinoa
10. Shephard’s Pie
This is easy to modify! Use sweet potato or cauliflower mash for the topping instead of the standard mashed potatoes. If swapping out all of it is too daunting, start with just half. You won’t even notice the difference! Finally, this is one of the best dishes to easily add more vegetables!
What do you think? Could you swap out just one classic meal this week to make a healthier version?
What are your favorite ways to make your favorite classic dinners healthier?! I’d love to know!