Clean 2016: Healthy dinner ideas

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It’s Thursday night.

The laundry has been slowly but surely piling up all week, almost as quickly as your to-do list has been growing long. Despite your pure intentions regarding your eating habits, the idea of getting takeout is looking very appealing – not only because the thought of making yet another meal is unconscionable but also because you’re lost somewhere in between celebrating 80 percent of the week being over and wondering how you’re going to get through the remaining 20 percent.

Below are a few ideas that will come in handy for the evenings when you’re one annoying email or toddler tantrum away from eating an entire pizza pie, Mexican fiesta or Chinese buffet. The recipes are lightened up using my specialty: healthy swaps. Each meal is portioned so that it’s made up mostly of vegetables and relatively smaller amounts of lean protein and complex carbs.

Pizza Night

IMG_8270If the scenario above sounds too spot-on, it’s because I’ve been there. I remember indulging with my husband weekly on pizza and cheesy bread on Thursday nights. What I remember more clearly is how I felt as a result – both physically any emotionally. Our days of eating pizza certainly aren’t over entirely, but it’s great to have a healthier alternative!

Healthier Pizza

Serves 6


  • Pick one:
    • 2 eggplants, cut into 12 slices
    • 6 light or whole grain English muffins
    • 6 pitas
    • 6 tortillas
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Veggies of your choice:
    • 1 large head of broccoli, diced
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 8 oz. mushroom
    • 1 onion, diced
  • Protein of your choice:
    • 3 cups chicken, diced and cooked
    • 3 cups chicken sausage, sliced and cooked
    • 3 cups ground turkey, cooked
    • 3 cups shrimp, cooked
  • Optional: Garlic to taste, minced


  1. If using eggplant, English muffins or pitas for the crust, “toast” in the oven for 5-10 minutes. If using tortillas, disregard.
  2. Divide sauce among eggplant slices, English muffins, pitas or tortillas, followed by veggies and protein of your choice then cheese.

Click here for a similar recipe.

Chinese Takeout Night

I can only recall eating Chinese food with Nate a couple of times. Instead, we tend to opt for Thai food, ever since we discovered Bangkok 54 when we were living in Arlington, Virginia. This was a our go-to on Sunday nights. The Americanized Chinese food that is commonly found in the United States incorporates fried rice and sauces. My version tastes just as good but eliminates both of those aspects.

Chicken Not-Friend Rice

Serves 6



  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked (yields 3 cups cooked rice)
  • 6 eggs, raw
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped and steamed
  • 4 cups carrots, shredded and steamed
  • 4 cups mushrooms, sautéed
  • 3 cups thin-sliced chicken breast, chopped and cooked
  • Sprinkle with low-sodium soy sauce
  • Garnish with scallions to taste, chopped


  1. Boil the brown rice per package instructions.
  2. Place the egg in a skillet and scramble. Before egg is fully cooked, add the rice.
  3. After egg is lightly cooked, add the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and chicken. Sprinkle with soy sauce, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the ingredients, especially the egg, from sticking.

This is a great meal for quick week-night dinners! Just pre-portion everything, and stick it in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat it, grab an egg, scramble it lightly in a skillet and toss everything else in!

Taco Tuesday

While I was losing weight and in the early stages of maintenance, believe it or not, but I ate a lot of Chipotle. The reason that this worked so well is that I focused on veggies, complex carbs, healthy fats and, more often than not, protein and eliminated the simple carbs and unhealthy fats. This recipe incorporates the same strategy.

IMG_8256Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Serves 6


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. 93 percent lean/7 percent fat ground turkey, raw
  • 4.5 oz. can green chilies
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 15.25 oz. can of reduced-sodium black beans
  • 15.25 oz. can of no-salt-added corn
  • 18 whole Romaine lettuce or Bibb lettuce leaves
  • Optional – top with:
    • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 cup salsa


  1. Place oil into skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Once heated, place onion into skillet, and allow to cook for two minutes, until golden and translucent.
  3. Add ground turkey, and brown while mincing the meat with a large plastic spoon or spatula.
  4. After completely cooked and browned, add the green chiles and tomato sauce and mix thoroughly.


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