Recently, the Harvard School of Public Health took a crack at stocking a healthy kitchen. It's pretty simple stuff, really. Turns out, healthy eating begins with having healthy food in the home.
We'll combine their common-sense tips with our favorite healthy recipes. Ready for some healthy dinner ideas? Let's do this thing!
1. Load up on Produce
Nothing shocking here. We all need to eat our fruits and veggies. Harvard Public Health recommends choosing locally grown produce and "eating the rainbow," meaning a variety of colorful foods.
"Tried and true! This is definitely a keeper. Didn't have any parsnips but used carrots, sweet potatoes and whole fennel. No maple syrup in house, so I used wildflower honey. Delicious!" -- Buckwheat Queen
"A tasty, healthy dinner in not too much time. You can add all the veggies you'd like." -- Kokog
"Excellent! Did not change anything. A great make-ahead recipe. It was so much more flavorful on day two." -- Carol.Elle
"Sometimes simple is best, and that is the case here. So very simple to make, the uncooked peas pop in your mouth, and it's loaded with fresh flavor." -- lutzflcat
"Loved it. Melted in my mouth. Next time I will probably cook the beets at least 5 more minutes, because they were a little less cooked than the potatoes." -- BetsySue
2. Go with Grains
Giving up grains is a trendy thing these days. But make sure you're giving up the right kinds of grains -- the highly processed, refined kinds -- and holding onto the healthy whole grains: whole wheat, barley, bulgur, whole oats, brown rice, quinoa. Here are some recipe ideas for adding healthy whole grains to your dinners.
"I have never made a quinoa dish as delicious as this! The fast prep time also makes for a stress-free, post-work meal." -- pianokeyz
"Fabulous healthy and filling breakfast. I served it hot out of the oven and then poured milk over it. You can also reheat it and do the same. Fantastic!" -- yesi72
"Wow! I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor of this. The avocado came through with the perfect amount of creaminess. Served on a bed of baby spinach for a perfect summertime treat." -- bd.weld
"Delightful, a refreshing and light salad that is so delicious. The whole thing just worked. The crunch and nutty flavour of the quinoa and the smooth, fresh avocado mixture with the tasty chicken all just seemed to blend perfectly together. The colors and tastes are so vibrant and inviting." -- Buckwheat Queen
"This is definitely a keeper!!! The array of flavors are magnificent." -- Julie Galatocky
3. Procure Protein
Red meat is losing favor. But fresh fish, lean turkey, and chicken are still recommended. And of course beans and nuts. Harvard Public Health recommends turning the traditional plate on its head: move meat to the side and give vegetables the primary position on the plate.
"Delicious, especially for being 'light.' This recipe makes a good amount of the chicken and veggies, which results in leftovers for breakfast tacos or a salad topping the next day!" -- fabeverydayblog
"This recipe is pretty phenomenal to be so simple! It was so quick and painless to make, but tasted great. It has definitely become a fav dish." -- CookinDiva
"This was delicious, and incredibly easy to throw together. I served it over white rice." -- James McCaffrey
"This was extremely delicious! There's room to experiment with spices and condiments -- but in its basic form, it was superb." -- dubs
"Great recipe! Not difficult to make, very healthy, and everyone loved it!" -- Marie Coffin
4. Favor Certain Fats
Fat, the reformed villain, is newly vindicated and back in favor. But only the right kinds of fat. They're not all created equal. Harvard Public Health suggests cooking with liquid vegetable oils whenever possible. Some recommended oils: olive oil, canola, sunflower, peanut, and corn. For salads, reach for the extra-virgin olive oil or nut oils like walnut. And speaking of nuts, a handful of mixed nuts is a smart snack full of healthy, satiating fats and protein.
"I love this recipe and make it all the time. I add a little ginger and some hot pepper sauce, and whatever veggies I have around." -- YSBRYD
"This is an excellent dressing -- so quick and easy to whip up and I usually have all the ingredients on hand." -- beverlyb
This salad is dressed with walnut oil, red wine vinegar, and a touch of red raspberry jam.
"Excellent combo of sweet, salty and spicy. Used parchment paper instead of foil. No problem with sticking." -- pdiana
"Yummy! All of my favorite flavors and so nutritious! I replaced butter with olive oil and didn't use as much." -- Kimberly
5. The X Factor
Now that we've got the main ingredients figured out, let's look to the flavor-building supporting cast. Harvard Public Health advises stocking the pantry with good quality ingredients that you use sparingly, such as vinegars, mustards, preserves, pickles, dried fruits, quality extra-virgin olive oil, and so on.
Quality condiments can make or break a recipe. Here we have red wine vinegar, soy sauce, and crunchy peanut butter.
One way to ensure you have the best peanut butter...make it yourself.
Make a tangy dressing with quality olive oil and vinegar.
Here's a prime candidate for your high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
If this all sounds a bit like the Mediterranean Diet -- well, we thought so, too. Explore some of our favorite Mediterranean Diet recipes, which showcase whole foods, simple preparations, and wonderful fresh flavors. Or head over to our complete collection of Healthy Recipes.
Here are more healthy recipes that are also easy to make and ready in a flash: