Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What to Make for Dinner

T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain posits a question that all of us trying to watch or weight who have kids and husbands ask "What do I make for dinner?" http://www.queenofdadomain.com/2009/10/recipes-anyone.html
My general rule of thumb is to eat raw vegan for breakfast, lunch and snacks, but eat anything I want for dinner. That means that I'll generally eat fruit for breakfast, a salad or raw veggies and dip for lunch and fruit, veggies, raw nuts or dried fruits for snacks.

Now, I don't go hog wild and pile on the calories, fat, etc. for dinner. I try to make a sensible dinner for me and the family.

But, as T-Rez laments, when you have to please a family, you have to make compromises to your weight-watching regime.

Here's a few of the tricks I've picked up over the last two years to make sure that I eat sensibly at dinner while keeping the troops happy.

1. Start with salad. With bagged, pre-washed greens making a salad is easy as pie. I usually cut up red onions, cucumbers, peppers etc. in bulk once or twice a week and sprinkle them on my salads over the course of the week. I also avoid bottled dressings (two many chemicals, sugar etc) and make a big bottle of homemade dressing once a week. Here's the recipe for one of my favorites: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/dieting-gadgets-i-love.html. I also like to thin out hummus with a water and fresh lemon juice for a creamy dressing. The kids may not eat the salad, but when I do, I eat less of the stuff that isn't so great for me.

2. Add veggies. If a recipe doesn't include any vegetables then just add them. I don't cook Mac & Cheese but you can easily steam and add fresh broccoli or add thawed frozen peas. Sliced cherry tomatoes are fantastic to add to a lot of pasta dishes as is baby spinach or arugula.

3. Increase the veggies, reduce the meat. I often make family favorites but with less meat and more veggies. For example, tonight's dinner is sausage and peppers. I used to use over two pounds of sausage when I made sausage and peppers. Tonight I'm using just a pound. I more than doubled the amount of peppers, tomatoes and onions I used to fill the family up, and serve it all over brown rice. I'll also generously sprinkle fresh parsley over the finished dish. If making chili, use less beef (and maybe switch to turkey or chicken) and more beans and tomatoes.

3. Cut calories where you can. My family loves breaded, fried foods, like chicken cutlets, fish, etc. When I make cutlets, e.g., I dip floured chicken in egg then the bread crumbs. Instead of just whole eggs, I now use just one whole egg and two egg whites. I also "dip lightly" and apply less breading than before. I also follow the "eat salad first" rule when breaded, fried foods are on the menu. Baking foods that are normally fried also works well in cutting calories.

4. Add a little raw to every meal. Whenever I can I try to add raw fruits and veggies to what I'm making. Meals like grilled tuna, pork or chicken with Mango salsa (see http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/04/have-little-raw-with-every-meal.html) or Crispy Skin Salmon (see http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/eat-little-raw-with-every-meal.html) work well.

5. Make Dinner a salad. There are many salads that work for dinner. Things like Chef's Salad (see http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/06/little-raw-with-every-meal-salad-for.html) or Tuna or salmon Nicoise salad. The Barefoot Contessa also has a great recipe for a Warm Duck Salad I like. You can find it here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/warm-duck-salad-recipe/index.html


  1. Thanks so much for the ideas. I need to get my act together big time. I"m starting to hate grocery shopping and cooking. That doesn't help a person on a journey, now does it?

  2. I actually love to shop and cook. My problem is finding the time!!! I really, really, really want to get to the organic farmer up the road before he closes up shop but haven't had the time to go.

  3. Sort of unrelated but thought you might like: