6 Vegetable-Packed Dinner Recipes That Make Healthy Eating Fun
Growing up, you probably heard the heard phrase “eat your vegetables” on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t heeding that advice — nearly 90% of the U.S. population isn’t meeting daily vegetable intake recommendations, according to a report released by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. It’s important to begin meeting your recommended intake, however, because vegetables are excellent sources of many key nutrients, including fiber, potassium, iron, folate, and vitamin A. Finding fun ways to include more veggies into your meals, particularly dinner, is a great way to ensure you and your family meet your daily needs. Turn a broccoli casserole into an Easy Baked Cheese and Vegetable Twist, serve sweet potato-packed dinner rolls, and put a savory spin on a popular breakfast food by preparing Vegetable Hash Waffles. Ready to begin upping your vegetable intake? Prepare these six produce-packed dinner recipes, which make healthy eating fun.
1. Julienne Vegetable-Stuffed Chicken with Ginger-Hoisin Sauce
Chicken breasts are stuffed with carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers and served with a side of tangy dipping sauce in Cooking Light’s recipe. SFGate explains that a one-cup serving of chopped carrots has 3.6 grams of dietary fiber, 1,069 micrograms of vitamin A, and 16.9 micrograms of vitamin K. It yields four servings.
- 1½ teaspoons dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups matchstick-cut carrot
- 2 cups matchstick-cut zucchini
- 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch strips
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup panko
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 3 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 5 teaspoons hoisin sauce
Directions: To prepare chicken, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 15 seconds. Add carrot, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add soy sauce and hoisin sauce; sauté 30 seconds. Place carrot mixture in a bowl; cool 5 minutes. Stir in panko. Slice each breast half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open halves, laying breast flat. Place each breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to ¼-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet.
Divide carrot mixture into 4 equal portions; spoon each portion down center of each breast half, leaving a ½-inch border at each end. Fold breast sides over filling. Place a 2-foot-long sheet of heavy-duty plastic wrap on a work surface with 1 long side hanging over the counter’s edge 2 inches. Place a stuffed breast half, seam side down, on the end farthest from you; tightly roll the chicken toward you, jelly-roll fashion. Twist the ends in opposite directions to form a cylinder. Tie plastic wrap in tight knots against the chicken on each end.
Trim off excess wrap close to the knot. Place a second 2-foot-long sheet of heavy-duty plastic wrap on the work surface; place rolled chicken on wrap, and repeat procedure. Repeat with remaining chicken breast halves. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot; add chicken. Simmer 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from water, and let stand 10 minutes before unwrapping and cutting into ½-inch-thick slices. To prepare sauce, combine onions and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with chicken.
2. Easy Baked Cheese and Vegetable Twist
Kraft puts a fun spin on broccoli casserole with this Easy Baked Cheese and Vegetable Twist, which yields 16 servings. Vegetables and cream cheese are surrounded by a flaky crescent roll crust, creating a nutrient-packed dinner dish the whole family will love. Broccoli boasts several important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins A, B-6, and C, and potassium, according to Live Science.
- 2 eggs
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup 2% shredded Italian three cheese blend
- 3 cups frozen broccoli cuts, thawed, drained
- ½ pound fresh mushrooms, cut into quarters
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
Directions: Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Unroll dough; separate into 16 triangles. Arrange in 11-inch circle on foil-covered baking sheet, with short sides of triangles overlapping in center and points of triangles toward outside. Spoon cheese mixture onto dough near center of circle. Bring outside points of triangles up over filling, then tuck under dough in center of ring to cover filling. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is heated through.
3. Sweet Potato Rolls
Swapping regular dinner rolls for Taste of Home’s Sweet Potato Rolls is an easy way to increase your veggie intake. The United States Department of Agriculture explains that the dietary fiber in vegetables can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease. In addition, vegetables contain ample amounts of vitamins A and C, which keep your eyes, skin, gums, and teeth healthy and help to protect against infections.
- ½ cup water
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- ¾ cup mashed potatoes
- 4 to 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 (¼ ounce) packages active dry yeast
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down. Divide into 30 portions; roll each into a ball. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm
4. Italian Spinach Pie
Reader’s Digest’s Italian Spinach Pie will help satisfy your daily vegetable requirements while appeasing your tastebuds. According to Body + Soul, spinach is a good source of vitamins A, B-2, C, and K, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium. In addition, Care2 notes that cooking spinach actually increases its health benefit; just one-half cup of cooked spinach will provide you with three times the nutrients as one cup of raw spinach.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed
- 1 box (10 ounces) chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 cup cooked long-grain white rice
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
5. Vegetable Hash Waffles
Take a break from traditional dinner dishes, and instead serve savory Vegetable Hash Waffles, which consist of cheese, spices, kale, and onion. Anna Thomas Bates’s recipe via the Journal Sentinel yields four servings. We recommend serving your waffles with Ditch the Carbs’s Homemade Ketchup with Hidden Vegetables.
- Olive oil for sauté pan
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and shredded
- 1 small onion, shredded
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 large kale leaves, chopped fine
- ¾ teaspoon coarse-grain salt
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- Dash of ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¾ cup cheese diced small
Directions: Heat a large sauté pan with a little olive oil over medium heat and add sweet potato, onion, and garlic. Stir until they begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add kale and ½ teaspoon salt. Continue cooking until vegetables are soft and greens are wilted, an additional 5 to 8 minutes. There should be about 2 full cups of cooked vegetables. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and seasonings. Add milk and egg and lightly stir together. Fold in vegetable hash and diced cheese. Grease and heat waffle iron and cook waffles following manufacturer’s directions.
6. Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese Cups
Your kids won’t be able to resist The Comfort of Cooking’s Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese Cups. Cheesy noodles pair well with nutrient-rich broccoli and juicy tomatoes, creating a healthy and delicious family-friendly dish. The recipe yields six servings.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- ½ cup dried bread crumbs
- 6 ounces small pasta, such as shells or elbows
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes or small diced plum tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped broccoli, blanched
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 6 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Coat inside of each muffin cup with bread crumbs, reserving any excess. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, add back to pot, and stir in Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon pasta mixture into muffin cups, filling almost to the top and pressing gently to set. Top each cup with tomato and broccoli. Sprinkle a pinch of remaining bread crumbs on each. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes and carefully unmold with a butter knife.