5 healthy and delicious dinner recipes that won’t break your bank!

Hello my wellness friends!

How is your Spring going so far? Any fun travel destinations? I have been enjoying this insanely gorgeous spring we are having here in Los Angeles. It’s the prettiest spring we have had in many years. I love taking in the wonderful smells of the blossoms all around my home.  I wish it was like this all year-long!!

There has been a conversation I find myself having over and over again with friends, family and my clients. The conversation goes like this “I don’t have time to make healthy meals” or “I can’t afford to eat healthy.”  Do you find yourself coming home from work and find yourself struggling on what to eat? Are you ordering out or eating frozen or packaged meals since its easier?  Are you in a dead-end, night after night, eating processed food and wind up with heart burn or a bloated belly?

I am here today to help you with these issues and debunk these myths. Let’s start with the first belief: “I don’t have time to make healthy meals.” This is one I have had to learn to overcome when I was a young single mama living life in the fast lane.  I had to get creative since I couldn’t feed my daughter dinners from fast food joints every night or even worse sometimes I would buy her a meal from the gas station. Yup! I have been there! Ha ha! It’s all about food prepping , shopping on your days off to stock the fridge and making meals fresh and easy to make.

For the next belief: “I can’t afford to eat healthy” –  Yes you can! We can all go down a rabbit hole and make things more expensive. I know I do at times. I buy expensive new wellness products that I want to try. I used to get really caught up in this and now I have scaled back to only buying whole foods!! Not only have I simplified my life but I have gotten my family and myself healthier by doing so!! If you stick with the outskirts of grocery stores you will find most everything you need to keep your pantry and fridge stocked. This is where you will find fresh produce and non-processed foods. Just remember this, when you find yourself down the freezer or boxed foods isles, get out of that trap!! Veggies, Grains, Legumes, seeds, eggs, can all be affordable and very yummy to make meals out of.

I want to help you get inspired about prepping, stocking the fridge and cooking healthy and affordable meals at home. I am sharing a week’s worth of dinner ideas that are healthy, plant-based, gluten-free, sugar-free, and simply delish!

Sundays are typically when I do my prepping and cooking. The things I like to have cooked ahead of time are a container of Quinoa, Brown rice, and Cauliflower rice.  These items can last up to 3-5 days pre-cooked in fridge. I add these to things to  lunch/dinner bowls, breakfast, salads, etc. It helps speed meals along. Also having pre-cut veggies can save you time as well. I make a lot of noodles out of zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes. This replaces pasta and saves you from the sugar crash from these type of carbs.

THIS WEEK’S MENU

  1. Veggie tacos with turmeric chickpeas and guacamole
  2. Butternut squash Mac and Cheese or no bake tuna melt recipe
  3. Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto
  4. Chana masala, vegetable coconut curry, and rice
  5. Rainbow dinner bowls

Below recipes can be made in advance.

QUINOA

Quinoa is a seed which you can use to make grain-free meals. This is one of my favorite things to make ahead. You can mix it with most foods and it lasts up to 5 days in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of dried quinoa cooks about 3 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup of dried quinoa – try different colors. I love the rainbow one!
  • 2 cups of liquid water, veggie or chicken broth.
  • If using water, use ½ tsp salt.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Quinoa can have a bitter taste. To get rid of the bitter taste, make sure to rinse it very well in a fine mesh strainer under cold water. Then put into sauce pan. I like to toast the quinoa for a few min until it smells toasty.
  • Add your liquid, salt and bring to a boil.
  • Bring down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Do not mix or open it up until it’s been simmering for about 15 min. Then peek and stick your spoon through the middle to see if the water is still in there. If so cover back up and check back in 5 min. It should take between 15-20 min to make. If it gets dried up and not cooked yet. Add a little more liquid.
  • Remove lid and fluff it. Add seasonings or sea salt if you like. I usually add a little.
  • Let cool down and place in a glass container.

BROWN RICE

Brown rice is a healthier alternative to white rice. Not only does it have minerals and vitamins but it also digests slower than white rice, which is better for your blood sugar. Rice does not hold up as well in the fridge like quinoa does but will be ok for about 2-3 days. Just add water to make it creamy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 cups of liquid water, veggie or chicken broth
  • ½ tsp salt if using water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Immediately cover the pot with a lid (that fits) and allow the rice to steam for 10 min. If your pot lid does not fit tightly in place add a piece of aluminum foil over pot then place the lid on top of foil for a tighter seal.
  • Cook uncovered for about 30 min, stirring occasionally.
  • Bring 4 cups of liquid to a boil in a large pot over high heat. After it boils, stir in rice. Stir once and bring down to a med heat boil.
  • Rinse rice several times in a strainer under cold running water. swirling the rice around with your hand to get rid of starch and dirt.
  • Pull pan off stove and pour rice into a strainer over the sink. Let the rice drain out for about 15 seconds. Add back to the pot with the heat turned off.
  • Uncover the lid and fluff rice with a fork, and season with salt to taste.

CAULIFLOWER RICE

This is one of my favorite hacks and healthier alternative to rice. I add this to everything and is good for any meal of the day!

INGREDIENT:

  • 1 head of cauliflower. ( as big or as little as you like) I usually get a med to large one. Since I eat a lot of it.

INSTRUCTIONS:

The fastest way to shred cauli-rice is through a food processor. Chop up into big chunks and put through food processor. Use the attachment you would shred cheese or carrots with. It will make a lot and can store in a large freezer baggy or container for up to a week in fridge. If you don’t have a food processor, just grate on your cheese grater – the big side.

You can throw this raw in salads or sauté in coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee. Add a bit of sea salt, pepper, and fresh or granulated garlic. Sauté for about 5 min and keep it a bit Al Dente. You don’t want mushy rice.

VEGGIE TACOS WITH TURMERIC, CHICKPEAS & GUACAMOLE (Serves 2-3)

Preheat oven to 425F.

INGREDIENTS:

TACOS

  • 3 types of veggies – use anything you like .
  • 1 med to large sweet potato – any color that is in season (I used purple sweet potato here)
  • 1 med large zucchini or squash
  • 1/2 med cauliflower head
  • 1 can of chickpeas (recipe below) *optional – replace with a can of black beans.

PICKLED PURPLE CABBAGE

  • Thinly slice about 1/4 of a small or med head of cabbage
  • Place in container and pour apple cider vinegar on top to cover all of cabbage
  • Then add a few pinches of sea salt
  • Mix it together and let sit in fridge for a few hours before making (better to do a 1-2 days in advanced)
  • Whatever is left over is going to be great for salads, and on top of bowls , etc. it will last a few weeks in fridge and get even more fermented which means probiotic and good for your gut health!

SHELL

Corn, Almond (I use from Siete foods), Lettuce or Cabbage tortillas

GUACAMOLE

  • 1-2 avocados (depending how much you want. I love guac leftovers!!)
  • 1/4 of a red or white onion (use as much or as little as you like . I love lots of raw onions in my guacamole)
  • juice of ½ lime.
  • 1/2 tsp or to taste Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.
  • 1/2 tsp Granulated garlic or fresh garlic (1-2 cloves) I love using granulated garlic for things like this . It’s fast and the flavor is still yummy !

DIRECTIONS:

VEGGIES

Chop all veggies (use any veggies you like). I like to take each veggie after chopping and add to a bowl and drizzle with avocado oil, sea salt and granulated garlic and mix it by hand. Then I add it all to a baking sheet to roast. I cook all the veggies separately but on same sheet. This way you and your family can customize your tacos!

CHICKPEAS

  • Drizzle avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • granulated garlic and sea salt
  • Mix in bowl
  • Cook on a separate baking sheet.
  • When done cooking squeeze the other half of lime over it.
  • Cook for 8 min and then flip over for another 8-10 min .
  • Keep roasting until you like it . I love them to be a bit brown and crispy .

Make a pretty assortment of your veggies and let your family make their own combos! And if you are into sauces like I am, feel free to add some chipotle sauce, sour cream or anything else you like. I sometimes like it clean and simple with just the guacamole. 

I was raised on lots of processed boxed meals. Things such as hamburger helper and tuna helper were my favorite! I have re-created this childhood meal and have made it just as creamy but so much healthier! This is a big hit with friends and family. If you remove the tuna it becomes vegan. The creamy sauce will remind you of mac and cheese. Try it both ways and let me know what you like!

MAC & CHEESE OR NO BAKE TUNA MELT USING BUTTERNUT SQUASH (Serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 butternut squash or 2-2 1/2 cups chopped
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup can tuna – Optional (try to choose low mercury brands such as wild planet foods )
  • 5 cups brown rice or quinoa macaroni or fusilli (spiral) pasta  ( or for a grain-free option 1 head of cauliflower chopped (steam it until al dente)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small to med yellow onion
  • Paprika to sprinkle
  • Gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon ghee , coconut oil or avocado oil
  • 2 cups Almond milk , coconut milk – or for a creamier base use a can of thicker coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and Sauté onions for about 3 min or until soft then add salt, and butternut squash for one min.
  • Add milk and bring to a boil . Bring it down to a simmer and cover for 20 min or until soft .
  • While this is cooking prepare water to boil for brown rice pasta or cauliflower.
  • Add butternut squash to a blender or use a hand Emerson blender. Blend until nice and creamy. Then add Dijon mustard add nutritional yeast and blend again.
  • Taste it and add more salt if needed.
  • Pour cooked pasta or steamed cauliflower to a small casserole type dish. Pour the puree on top of pasta or cauli. (I like to reserve some sauce for next day leftovers)
  • Sprinkle gluten-free bread crumbs and eat right away
  • Add hot sauce and black pepper if you want more of a kick

This next recipe is one my BFF made for me for dinner. She is not anywhere near a chef and she wanted to surprise me and make me a healthy meal that was vegan. I am so proud of her and thankful she made it for me. It has become a staple in my kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH AVOCADO PESTO (Serves 3-4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 med size Zucchini or package of brown rice or quinoa noodles
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove or 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • Juice of half of a lemon or 2-3 teaspoons (make sure lemon is not to bitter or it can take over the taste. It’s best to add one teaspoon at time and taste it.
  • ¼ -½ teaspoon of salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon – Extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/4 water -or less to thin out the sauce

DIRECTIONS:

  • Make your zucchini noodles (with a hand veggie noodle maker or machine) I have been seeing spiralled veggies popping up in some grocery stores. (which helps with prep but may add more to the cost).
  • Or boil your choice of gluten-free pasta.
  • While pasta is cooking make your avocado pesto in a blender or a food processor.
  • Add Avocado, basil, garlic, oil, salt, 2 teaspoon lemon and blend. You may have to scrap down the sides to get it off the edges. Taste it and add more lemon if you like. Add a bit of water to thin out sauce if it’s too thick and won’t blend. About 1 tablespoon at a time and up to about 1/4 cup.
  • Sauté zucchini noodles in oil for about 5 min. Keep it a bit al dente and not mushy.
  • Or drain your pasta
  • Add noodles to the plates and scoop as much sauce needed. Drizzle with more olive oil on top, black pepper and place a few fresh pieces of basil on top.
  • Optional – add some protein to the top such as a piece of fish, chicken, or poached egg.

During my trip to India I lived on rice, veggies and legumes. It was so satisfying and I did not miss any of my regular foods. I am sharing a few of the dishes I had. I will be sharing more recipes on future posts. You can try all of these in one meal or just choose one like the Chana masala with rice or Veggies with Rice. Another fun way is to eat Chana Masala or Veggie coconut curry on top of an opened sweet potato.

CHANA MASALA, VEGETABLE COCONUT CURRY WITH RICE 

CHANA MASALA (2-3 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Brown rice
  • 1 can of Chickpeas
  • Curry leaves – 6 pieces (optional and still yummy without)
  • 1 tomato – chopped
  • Coconut oil or ghee – 2 tsp
  • Gravy – 6 tablespoons (recipe for gravy below)
  • Water – 1 cup

BASIC GRAVY SAUCE

It’s an important element in Indian cooking. It can be made quickly, ahead of time and put into fridge for up to a week or in freezer for a few weeks. Gravy is used to make a variety of recipes such as Chana masala, veggie masala, veggie coconut curry, etc. The meals come together super fast with this paste cooked ahead of time. Spoon amount needed in saucepan along with one cup of water and add boiled veggies or chickpeas and curry is ready.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Onion – 1 or 2 cups of chopped onion
  • tomato – 1 ½ tablespoon chopped
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Garlic – 4 cloves
  • Fresh Ginger – 1 tablespoon or a ½ tablespoon of dried ginger
  • Coriander powder – ¼ cup
  • Gram masala – ½ tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Coconut oil or ghee – 2 tsp
  • *Chili powder – Optional if you love spice go for just a pinch.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Chop onion, tomato, garlic and ginger and grind them either in a pestle or put into a food processor. Try to get it into a paste like form.
  • Add oil to pan add the paste, and turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili (if using), and salt to paste and gently stir for 5 min . Your basic gravy paste is ready.
  • Add to a container and store for up to a week in fridge. This is enough to make a few meals.

CHANNA MASALA

  • Heat oil in sauce paN
  • Add chopped tomato and curry leaves and sauté for a min
  • Add Gravy paste and a half a cup of water and bring to a boil
  • Add the chickpeas AKA Chana and cook for a few min
  • Serve over rice, stuff it in a steamed sweet potato topped with vegan unflavored/unsweetened yogurt, or eat it alone

VEGETABLE MASALA

Use the same recipe as Chana masala but instead add boiled veggies. Like carrots, green beans, green peas, cauliflower, cabbage.

VEGGIES WITH COCONUT CURRY

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of hard veggies like carrots, green beans, green peas, cauliflower and cabbage.
  • Tomato – 1 tomato cut into cubes.
  • Curry leaves (6 leaves) optional
  • Coconut oil or ghee – 1 teaspoon
  • Gravy (recipe above)- 5 teaspoons
  • 1 can of coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat the oil and sauté curry leaves for 15 seconds.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 1 more min.
  • Add the gravy, water, boiled vegetables, and salt and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk and cook for another min.
  • Serve it hot over rice or on top of a sweet potato topped with vegan unflavored/ unsweetened yogurt. 

One of my very favorite meals that I always eat is rainbow bowls. This is a great way to use up your left overs, get your veggie intake and have a satisfying meal all at once. These are also fun for breakfast and lunch. They are good brain food since there are healthy fats added to it. Better than reaching for an Acai bowl that’s filled with lots of sugar.

There is no one way to do a bowl. I will lay out a plan on how to build it to your liking and then I will have a few examples of my favorite options.

DINNER RAINBOW BOWL LAYOUT 

  • Start with a base: 1 cup of cauliflower rice, brown rice, quinoa or salad.
  • Add toppings such as steamed veggies, raw veggies, avocados, etc.
  • Add Protein such as Chickpeas, lentils, tuna or salmon patties, falafel, grass-fed meatballs, beans, chicken, veggie patty, boiled, poached or over easy egg.
  • Add sauces, dips, dressings, such as humus, nut cheeses, unflavored/ unsweetened yogurt, salad dressings or any of your favorite sauces.
  • * Once it’s done, I like to drizzle olive oil or avocado oil and add a bit of sea salt and pepper.

MY FAVORITE GO-TO BOWLS: 

BOWL #1

  • Base: 1 cup sautéed Cauliflower rice (recipe on top)
  • Toppings: avocado, pickled purple cabbage, sweet potato
  • Protein: 1-2 hard poached or hardboiled organic free-range eggs
  • Sauces: I just add sea salt, pepper and hot sauce. Sometimes I add a garlic sauce, or a cashew cheese I get from store. Find sauces you like and add it. This one I do for breakfast too.

BOWL #2

  • Base: Quinoa and Spinach
  • Toppings: Steamed broccoli, steamed or sautéed zucchini, fermented cabbage or sauerkraut, avocado
  • Protein: black lentils or salmon patty (recipe below)
  • Sauces: Tahini sauce ( mix together 1 tablespoon of Tahini mixed with a pinch of granulated garlic, squeeze of lemon and salt) or I love to add garlic sauce or humus from the store.

BOWL #3

  • Base:  Massaged kale (how to make below)
  • Toppings:  Roasted Brussel sprouts, avocado, steamed cauliflower, radishes
  • Protein: Tuscan white beans I used a store-bought brand. or add a can of low mercury tuna or salmon.
  • Sauces: I do one of these: garlic sauce, tahini sauce, olive oil lemon vinaigrette.

*Massaged Kale is easier to digest since its softer.

How to make it: Chop up kale and remove stems. Let soak for a few min in a bath of warm water. Empty water out and drizzle some apple cider vinegar and olive oil with a little sea salt or Himalayan salt. Get your hands in there and massage it for a few min. I love sprinkling some nutritional yeast on it as well.

Salmon Patties reciepe: 1 can of wild caught salmon, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of fresh dill (chopped), sea salt and pepper to taste, red or white onion (adds much as desired) I like about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons.

1.Put together: Smash the salmon and add chopped dill, onion, spices, and mix with fork. Add egg and mix.

2. Cook in pan with avocado oil. Make patties with hands and should make about 4 med since patties.

Let me know what you come up with! If you have leftovers from your weekend or holidays use them up. Throw them all in a bowl and eat the rainbow! Take pics and tag me at #awholeandhappylife

 
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2 Comments

  • This is totally great! I’m so excited to draw new inspiration from these ideas and add them to my arsenal. I’ll be sure to share on Instagram if I try any recipe exactly. Thanks so much for the great ideas!

    • Thank you Evelyn! We’re so glad that you found this article inspiring. Let us know what you think of the recipes once you try them.

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