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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

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Healthy & Easy Weeknight Dinner Recipes

Healthy & Easy Weeknight Dinner RecipesAt Sewickley Academy, we don't just teach information, we teach the values that will help you develop a meaningful lifestyle. These values provide our graduates the maximum opportunity to fulfill their potential and contribute meaningfully to their communities and our world. 

Fulfilling your potential depends on maintaining good health. Of course, we know how important regular exercise and healthy eating habits are to a healthy lifestyle. 

Every day, we learn more about the specifics of what it means to eat "healthfully." The word in the last few years, certainly since Michael Pollan's books burst on the scene, is that eating more plant-based food is central to achieving our best health. Study after study shows improved health that results from reducing or eliminating meat, added fats, and sweeteners, and learning to eat the "nutritarian" way

Of course, these dietary recommendations don't mean you have to take an all-or-nothing approach. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman's nutritarian approach suggests that as you add more and more plant items into your diet, according to his plan, your dependence on other food items will simply decrease.

One way to start taking steps toward a more plant-based lifestyle is to experiment with plant foods at least once a week. Sharing meals with others brings a communal aspect to your effort, which is also a part of good health! If you are cooking for a family, you can talk about the sources of each item on your table.

Here are three healthy and easy vegan weeknight dinner recipes:

Veggie Bowls

"Bowls" are a quick and easy way to enjoy vegan meals. You can pack these one-dish meals with good nutrition and delicious and imaginative combinations of ingredients. Start your creative process with a pattern: 

  • Half grains and half beans
  • A veggie rainbow
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Sauce (the key to a great bowl is its sauce)

Draw inspiration from various cuisines, including:

Mexican

  • Black beans, rice, corn
  • Red bell pepper, avocado
  • Pepitas
  • Chipotle dressing

Asian

  • Tofu, brown rice
  • Sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, cucumber
  • Soy-ginger dressing

Middle Eastern

  • Hummus, wheat berry salad
  • Petite diced tomato, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onion, olives
  • Tahina (sesame paste with added water, lemon juice, salt)

You'll find more ideas for vegan "bowls" in a simple search on Pinterest.

Arrange the components in sections, attractively, with dressing on the side or drizzled over the whole.

Pita Pizza 

Six-inch whole wheat pita pockets or "loaves" make an easy, delicious pizza crust.

  • Use a flavorful, pureed spread as the first layer on your pita such as classic hummus, black bean chipotle-flavored hummus, or a vegan pesto (pine nuts, spinach, basil, lemon, garlic, salt and extra virgin olive oil).
  • Add veggies like roasted tomato slices, roasted mushroom slices, caramelized or raw onion, sliced green olives, sliced red bell peppers, and grilled eggplant slices.
  • Drizzle a thick sauce over the top, or add thin slices of tofu.

Place the pita pizzas in a pre-heated hot oven (500 degrees) and bake until warmed through and browning slightly on the top.

Soup

Soup with a crusty bread is a long-time favorite dinner in many homes. Since you're going to "sleep on" that meal, always make it lighter than the breakfast or midday meals that fuel your day.

  • Make or buy a substantial whole grain bread.
  • Make a pureed veggie soup by adding a little extra virgin olive oil to a pot and placing one quartered onion in with the oil and about a half gallon of cut up veggies. With quartered tomatoes, you can add a little ginger root. With peeled, cut-up sweet potatoes, a little cardamom works well. Pureed summer squash, peel left on, makes a beautiful, lemony-colored soup. Whatever veggie you use, add just a little water (barely any for the tomatoes, almost to cover for the sweet potatoes, moderate for summer squash), cover, and simmer until veggies are soft. Move to a high-powered blender (a regular blender will work), and blend until smooth. Garnish and serve.
  • Alternatively, make a bean and veggie soup. Add a little extra virgin olive oil to a pot and some diced onion, carrots, and celery. Saute briefly, then add one pound of rinsed, pre-cooked beans and water to cover. Add six petite diced tomatoes and any other cut-up veggies of your choice. Cook until all is soft and well-blended. Add chopped cilantro or parsley and seasonings (salt and pepper or additional herbs you enjoy).

These easy, flexible meals are the basis of a whole new way of living healthfully, sustainably, and deliciously. 

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Topics: Food