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It can sometimes be difficult to stick to a healthy diet, but it's important to consider that what you eat impacts your mind and body. Eating too much unhealthy food can lead to feeling sluggish and run down, and can cause serious health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It isn't necessary to count every calorie you eat in most cases, but it is important to keep track of whether you're getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients. Luckily, there are many ways to add these important components to your diet without sacrificing flavor or portion size. These dinner ideas are delicious enough to impress guests, but also healthy enough to provide the nutrients you need each day.

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Strawberry Spinach Salad

One of the most basic things that you can do to make mealtime more healthy is to eat a salad. A strawberry spinach salad is perfect for this since its ingredients are nutrient-rich. Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants, and spinach is a great source of fiber, iron and vitamin K. Topping it with walnuts instead of croutons reduces carb intake, and walnuts are a heart-healthy nut. To turn this side dish into a main course, top the salad with grilled chicken for some protein. If you must use dressing, stick to small portion sizes and use a low-calorie option, like a vinaigrette.

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Whole-Grain Spaghetti

To make a healthy Italian dinner, you can use whole-grain spaghetti and fresh marinara sauce. Many of the most common ingredients for dinner can be switched out for healthy, whole-grain varieties. These whole-grain substitutes are much healthier than the processed versions that most people eat, and they are a simple way to improve the quality of your diet. The taste difference is minimal, especially when it's covered in tomato sauce, but the health benefits are important. Choosing whole grains over refined grains has been shown to lower the risk of many major health problems, including cardiovascular disease.

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Grilled Salmon Filets

Most nutritionists recommend eating seafood twice a week, and salmon is one of the healthiest ways to meet that goal. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, along with protein, vitamin D, and other key nutrients. That means salmon is great for boosting energy, promoting brain health, and lowering your risk of cardiovascular diseases. To keep things even more healthy, make sure to bake, broil or grill the salmon in a low-cal marinade like lemon and herbs rather than frying in oil or breading. You can also spice things up by adding grilled salmon to tacos, salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, or even pizza.

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Veggie Pizza

If you love pizza but need to cut back on unhealthy food, veggie pizza is the way to go. Build your own pizza canvas by using whole-grain dough for the crust, then topping with fresh marinara sauce. A sprinkling of low-fat mozzarella cheese will add savory flavor without ruining your diet, but the key to a healthy pizza is in the toppings. For a more basic pizza, mushrooms, peppers and onions are a great way to start. For a truly healthy pizza, add Roma tomato slices and spinach, or even artichoke hearts. Vegetables are good for heart health, and using them in place of toppings like pepperoni and sausage will reduced fat intake.

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Chicken Stir-Fry

Stir-fry is a good go-to meal to turn to when you are in search of something healthier

since it is easy to add in more vegetables and improve the nutritional value of your meal. To start, grill chicken using a low-fat seasoning. In a wok or deep skillet, heat just a small dash of olive oil and mix in your vegetables. Great stir-fry veggies include: carrots, peas, peppers, onions, mushrooms, squash, bok choy, water chestnuts, and corn. Mix in the chicken, keeping the portions to about 75% vegetables, then serve over steamed brown rice. This chicken stir-fry will provide you with plenty of protein, fiber, and other important nutrients without hurting your waistline.

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Fruit Salad

It's easy to make a healthy main dish, but sides are often where dinner can get out of hand. Instead of choosing unhealthy carbs like French fries or loaded mashed potatoes, opt for something lighter: fruit salad. Before making dinner, wash and cut up your favorite fruits, like berries, melons, grapes, bananas, and kiwis. Mix them up in a large bowl and chill, so that the fruit is cold and refreshing when it's time for dinner. Fruit salad is an especially great side dish to go with pork chops or pork tenderloin. As a bonus, leftover fruit salad can make a great dessert or even breakfast the following day.

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Baked Pork Chops

When trying to eat healthier, pork can be a great substitution for red meat. Like chicken, pork offers many inexpensive but lean cuts, including pork tenderloin and lean pork chops, that are a great source of protein. These cuts can be grilled or broiled if you prefer, but baking lean, boneless pork chops are a great way to get all of the flavor without needing to use butter or oil to grill them. Marinate the pork in your favorite sauce, like lemon and garlic or low-sodium soy and pineapple juice. This will help to keep the meat tender and delicious during the baking process.

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Quinoa

If you want a healthy grain to go with your main dish, look no further than quinoa. This grain is packed with protein, iron, fiber, and plenty of other vitamins and nutrients. It is also a very versatile food, making it a great option in place of rice or as a salad topping. For a healthy dinner, serve chicken or pork on top of quinoa pilaf, or mix it with vegetables to create a delicious side salad. Quinoa has a very rich and nutty flavor, so it can be an acquired taste for many people, but its health benefits make it a worthwhile dinner addition.

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Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burgers are nutritious and easy to make, and they are just as filling as beef burgers. To mix up a batch of these healthy vegetarian burgers, you need a can of black beans, a cup of bread crumbs, a little cilantro and parsley, and an egg to bind it all together. Seasoning is optional depending on your preferences, but some healthy ideas include garlic, red pepper flakes, onion, and pepper. Adding a weekly meat-free meal like this to your diet can improve energy levels and help you to lose weight, while still allowing you to get enough protein and fiber. Top your burger with piled-high veggies and a little salsa for a nutrient boost.

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Grilled Fish Tacos

Everyone loves tacos, but they aren't always healthy. Between sodium-loaded kits, processed flour tortillas, and fatty ground beef, tacos are typically a food to stay away from if you are on a diet. However, grilled fish tacos are an excellent way to get a serving of omega-3-rich seafood while still getting the taco craving you love. Use ma-hi ma-hi or tilapia fillets and grill with a chili powder rub. Then, dice the fish into bite-sized pieces and portion out onto whole-grain tortillas. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and corn, along with a small sprinkle of cheese. For an extra healthy meal, skip the tortillas and build yourself a taco salad instead.

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Ground Turkey

Most people used beef in dishes that require ground meat, including meals like burgers, tacos and stuffed peppers. However, switching to ground turkey is a good way to make your food better for you without sacrificing taste. Ground turkey can be used in all of these same dishes, and it is better for your heart and waistline. However, you should be careful to make sure you're buying ground turkey breast, which doesn't include fattening dark meat. To introduce ground turkey in place of ground beef, try adding it to a flavorful dish like chili with beans. The chili seasoning will allow even the pickiest of eaters to forget how healthy their dinner is.

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Slow-Cooked Pork Tenderloin

Another good option for a healthy dinner is pork tenderloin. Like pork chops, this cut is often lean and inexpensive compared to red meat options. One of the best ways to cook it is in a slow cooker or Crock Pot. Instead of marinating the meat overnight, simple put the thawed tenderloin into the slow cooker and add your favorite juice and seasonings for flavor. Fresh or concentrated pineapple juice or apple cider are both great choices, and pair well with seasonings like garlic and onions. Slow-cooking allows the meat to keep most of its nutrients, including lots of protein and vitamin B-6. Any fat on the tenderloin will fall off after it cooks for several hours, leaving you with healthy, delicious pork.

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Cauliflower Alfredo

Who doesn't love the creamy, cheesy taste of alfredo sauce? While delicious, alfredo-topped pasta is hardly good for your health. Instead, top your whole-grain fettuccine with cauliflower alfredo sauce. After boiling the cauliflower until tender, puree it in a blender along with sautéed minced garlic, pepper, and a little salt. Once blended, just pour it on to your pasta and enjoy. In addition to skipping all of the fat and salt in store-bought alfredo sauce, you'll get the health benefits of cauliflower, including fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. Your dinner companions won't even be able to tell the difference between the two sauces.

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Kale Soup

Not everyone likes the taste of fresh kale, but when it's cooked in soup, it can be hard to resist. That's why a good healthy dinner idea is kale and sausage soup. Use lean turkey sausage to add some savory flavor to the soup, but make sure the dish is packed with kale. White beans or brown rice can add some bulk to the meal, which can help you to feel full long after you eat. Kale is a very healthy superfood, and it is a great source of vitamins C and K, as well as folate, fiber and protein.

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Steak Kabobs

Beef often gets overlooked when trying to eat healthy, but there are plenty of great recipes that include lean cuts of red meat. In general, these are not as good for your heart as chicken or pork, but they do provide iron, protein, and fiber. Steak kabobs are a great way to add lean beef into your diet because they call for a large number of vegetables. To make these, skewer small chunks of beef tenderloin with healthy seasonal veggies like squash, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms. These veggies will provide lots of vitamins and nutrients, fill you up, and keep your calorie and fat intake down. Use Worcestershire sauce or a similar low-cal marinade to flavor the meat, and grill the entire kabob for a delicious and healthy meal.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.