May 18, 2024

VITALITY LIFE

LIVING HEALTHY VITALITY LIFE

Effortless Dinner Recipes: Where Health Meets Delight in Perfect Harmony

8 min read

Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet treats as much as the next girl (if not more). But there’s something about this time of year that makes my body crave a reset. Even with the start of January long in the past, now’s the perfect time to double down on your intentions. And personally, in my quest to prioritize healthy meals, having a few go-to, nourishing recipes in my back pocket always brings me closer to my goals. Finding a balance between indulgent and wholesome choices is definitely possible, and these healthy dinner recipes for two will lead you there.

Even though it’s a few months back now, I can still say with certainty: the holiday season is my favorite time of year. Friends and family gathering to celebrate and the kitchen is never short on sweets. There’s nothing like enjoying your morning coffee with a slice of chocolate chip pumpkin bread on the side. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually thinking more about Christmas cookies, holiday cocktails, and carb-loaded breakfasts than nutrient-rich foods as the weather gets colder. But by the time the stockings are put away and we’ve rung in the new year, I can tell my body needs a break.

Featured image by Belathée Photography.

Image by Anastasiya Pudova

14 Healthy Dinner Recipes for Two

And that’s true of right now as well. I fell prey to the mid-January slump, falling back on my resolutions and into less intentional meals (i.e., a whole lot of takeout and much less cooking at home). Needless to say, I’ve put inspiration on the back burner, but now, I’m craving all the new dishes and colorful recipes. And because my partner and I are tasked with the ever-challenging job of cooking for a pair, I’m grateful that these recipes are tailor-made for two. Scroll through these conscious creations that’ll save you from the leftover pile-up.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Bowl with Feta Yogurt

Why We Love It: This bright bowl is packed with so many flavors and varied textures. But here’s the thing: it’s way easier than it looks. Chickpeas and sweet potatoes get roasted with a trio of warming, savory spices (cumin, coriander, and paprika), and a mix of honey and maple syrup adds just a touch of sweetness. Serve it all atop a lemon-kissed blend of feta and plain yogurt, and you have the simplest, stand-out meal.

Hero Ingredient: When have sweet potatoes ever not been the hero ingredient? Well, I’ll make an exception here—the harissa adds the perfect punch of heat.

Vegan Flatbread with Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Hummus

Why We Love It: When I think of flatbread, my mind immediately goes to pizza and dials things back a few notches to its lighter, flavor-packed cousin. You still get the soft, slight crunch of the dough but the toppings are far more refreshing and flavor-packed. This take is no exception. Store-bought naan gets piled high with a bright, spice-infused hummus and all the veggies your heart desires. I’ll call it salad, with the volume turned up.

Hero Ingredient: I’ll be doubling up on the hummus—it’s exactly what I want when the 3 o’clock hangries strike.

Green Goddess Pasta Salad

Why We Love It: It’s always a celebration when a recipe checks all three boxes of easy, healthy, and delicious. And this riff on the viral salad does exactly that. No frills but nonetheless elegant, this simple pasta salad is totally vegan and packs a surprising amount of veggies. (OK, perhaps not too surprising given its vibrant green hue.) With little effort, you get a delicious weeknight dinner refined enough for a fête.

Hero Ingredient: Nutritional yeast is a vegan’s favorite secret. It adds delicious, cheesy flavor minus—of course—the cheese.

Kitchari

Why We Love It: When you need a simple comforting dish, stat kitchari is the recipe to make. A blend of split mung beans and basmati rice makes the base cozy beyond belief and the mix of spices will warm you all the way through. It’s our Food Editor’s go-to comfort meal—and a favorite in Ayurveda for its detoxifying capabilities.

Hero Ingredient: Ghee gives your kitchari a touch of richness. Pro tip: Add more on top to sweeten the deal.

Farinata with Caramelized Onions and Pesto

Why We Love It: This elegant and easy farinata will transport you immediately to warmer days and sweet spring picnics. Because it can be served at room temperature, it’s the perfect dish for when your schedule calls for a make-ahead meal. And because chickpea flour serves as the base for your farinata, this tasty main is naturally gluten-free.

BLT Salad with 8-Minute Eggs and Avocado

Why We Love It: A salad with toasty bread, eggs, avocado, and bacon… what’s not to love? This easy weeknight dinner comes together in less than 30 minutes (win!). Plus, it brings a healthy combo of protein, fats, and greens to the table—all while being as comforting as a traditional BLT sandwich. It’s a great way to incorporate vegetables into your dinner and use up that stale bread that’s been sitting on your counter or the almost-too-old lettuce that’s been glaring at you from the fridge. I’m all about it.

Hero Ingredient: The 8-minute egg is the unsung hero of this BLT (BLET?) salad. It’s right on the line between medium-boiled and hard-boiled so that the yolk is set but doesn’t make your teeth stick together. It’s delicious and filling and picks up the flavors of the salad. That’s all.

Pappardelle With Shiitakes, Kale, & Jammy Leeks

Why We Love It: If you’re a mushroom lover like me, this pasta is definitely for you. Not only is it elevated by earthy shiitakes, but the slightly sweet, buttery leeks that cling to the pappardelle give this dish an abundance of flavor without making it too heavy. A hearty dose of kale also brightens up the dish and gives it a refreshing texture. A dash of grated parm and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice finish this pasta to create the perfect bite.

Hero Ingredient: The jammy leeks really send this dish over the edge. By slicing them thinly and cooking them low and slow on the stove, they meld together to create a “jammy” consistency that sticks right to the pasta. Coupled with the mushrooms, these leeks make for a very flavorful pasta dish.

Slow Roasted Cod With Broccolini, Winter Squash, and Mint

Why We Love It: With an elegant feel and easy preparation, this recipe is the definition of working smarter, not harder. Delicate, flakey cod comes together over seasonal broccolini and winter squash to make for a healthy and filling dish. Lemon, garlic, and mint pack a flavorful punch to take this recipe from fish-and-vegetables to a restaurant-quality dinner. Top it off with a few mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil for a light yet satisfying meal.

Hero Ingredient: Broccolini and winter squash take center stage here as seasonal vegetable stars. The lemony, garlicky flavor of these roasted veggies makes them the perfect sidekick for the fish they accompany.

5-Minute Salmon With Curried Cauliflower & Greens

Why We Love It: Melt-in-your-mouth salmon in five minutes. Do we really need to say more? The crispy, caramelized tops of these salmon fillets are brushed with honey and sriracha to create an indulgent main element to a healthy dinner. Roasted cauliflower, crispy chickpeas, and peppery arugula line the sides of the fish to make a meal full of healthy fat, protein, greens, and fiber. What more could we really ask of a dinner.

Hero Ingredient: Honey-sriracha salmon, hands down. Not only is it a great source of protein and healthy fat, but it also tastes amazing.

Roasted Butternut Squash Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Figs, and Pesto

Why We Love It: First of all, butternut squash never gets old—especially not in the winter. And secondly, this recipe calls for roasting the squash with the skin on (yay!). Easy, flavorful, and filling, this vegetarian dish is both comforting and healthy. Goat cheese and pesto bring the tang while tender figs lend an unexpected sweetness that really ties the flavors together. Beautiful enough for a dinner party but easy enough for dinner for two, this recipe is a real winner.

Hero Ingredient: Are figs ever a bad idea? Sweet, texture-y, and slightly berry-flavored, the fruit takes this squash to the next level by incorporating a delicious dose of sweetness that I’m prepared to welcome with open arms.

Sheet Pan Veggie Bowl With Yogurt and Herb Dressing

Why We Love It: There’s nothing better than a really good dinner that only takes 30 minutes to throw together. And bonus points for when it’s healthy! Packed with roasted vegetables and tied together with a creamy yogurt and herb dressing, this bowl checks all the boxes for flavor while filling your veggie quota.

Hero Ingredient: Yogurt and herb dressing is what turns a sheet pan full of roasted vegetables into this polished meal. Bright, zesty, and smooth, don’t hesitate in drizzling lots of the yogurt-y goodness over those veggies and enjoy your decadent bowl.

Banh Mí Bowl

Why We Love It: Don’t write this one off if you’re a tofu hater. Yes, I’ll admit that tofu can be lifeless. It’s sometimes bland, oftentimes boring, and can be weirdly spongy. But when you sauté it in lemongrass and soy sauce, the golden-brown protein really transforms and delivers lots of flavor and texture. That paired with shiitake mushrooms, pickled vegetables, and rice (or greens) makes for a simple, light dinner that will definitely satisfy your Banh Mí craving.

Hero Ingredient: Quick-pickled veggies bring a tangy bite and crisp texture to this bowl to contrast its yummy umami-ness. You can use whatever veggies you prefer, just be sure to make extras to snack on while you piece this bowl together.

Spring Salmon & Veggie Grain Bowl

Why We Love It: The combination of healthy fats and grains in this bowl makes for a hearty meal that’s filling without being too heavy. Salmon, avocado, and quinoa mixed with bright vegetables strike an impressive balance between hearty and healthy that will keep you full without feeling saturated. Plus, the dressing is filled with anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, turmeric, and honey to keep your body happy.

Hero Ingredient: Don’t skimp on the turmeric-citrus vinaigrette… the gingery dressing takes this bowl to another level and can be used as a dip for raw veggies or on other salads. Yum.

Healthy Mexican Bowl

Why We Love It: Although we love melty cheese, flour tortillas, and oversized margaritas, this Mexican bowl is lighter and healthier than what you’ll find at your neighborhood Tex Mex restaurant. With cabbage, cauliflower, and black beans, polishing off this bowl won’t leave you feeling heavy. Vegetable-forward, fresh, and healthy, this recipe is grounds for a fiesta.

Hero Ingredient: Limey dressing with agave tops off this bowl and adds zingy flavor to the vegetables. Don’t skimp on this yummy sauce or the pickled onions.

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