Busy fall schedules can leave little time to prepare healthy dinners for your family. However, with cold and flu season right around the corner, it’s important to make sure everyone is getting the proper nutrition needed to stay well. Here are a few hearty, yet healthy dinner ideas that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad
This satisfying last-minute meal couldn’t be easier to make. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients that prevent disease and boost the immune system. And, the fragrant filling of beans adds protein and heart-healthy fiber. Remember to eat the skin, which is full of fiber as well.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on High until tender all the way to the center, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine beans, tomatoes, oil, cumin, coriander and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until heated through.
- When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Chicken and Gnocchi Dumpling Soup
This healthy version of chicken and dumplings is made simple, thanks to store-bought gnocchi. Seared chicken thighs create a rich base for the soup, while carrots, celery and peas provide texture and fresh veggies. Everyone in the family will love this easy weeknight meal.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 5 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
- 8 ounces whole-wheat gnocchi
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan.
- Add onion, celery, carrot, rosemary, and thyme to pan; cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add 4 cups stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Add gnocchi to pan; cook 3 minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface.
- Combine remaining 1 cup stock and flour in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add stock mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in chicken and peas; cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.
This rich and creamy Pumpkin Alfredo uses less than a quarter of the cream and butter than a classic Alfredo dish. High in fiber and vitamins, pumpkin puree gives the dish the velvety smooth texture of cream, without the fat and calories. It’s an easy fall dish that everyone in the family will love. Serve with a big green salad on the side for added veggies.
- 1 pound fettuccine (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2/3 cup half & half
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- Bring a stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water, then add fettuccine. Cook according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in garlic and cook for about a minute. Stir in half & half, Parmesan, pumpkin and nutmeg. Stir until sauce is heated through and cheese is melted. Stir in pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time, until sauce is desired consistency.
- Add pasta and cook over medium-high heat until sauce is smooth and pasta is well coated; about 1-2 minutes.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and fresh grated Parmesan, if desired.
These simple, family-friendly fall recipes will help your family eat healthy during this busy time of year. Whether you are feeding finicky children or an elderly loved one, these nutritious versions of traditional comfort foods are sure to please everyone.
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