Healthy 5-Ingredient Dinner Recipes for Fall
Between back-to-school errands and impending holiday preparations, Fall can get busy. One minute you’re shopping for backpacks and figuring out extracurriculars, the next minute you’re piecing together Halloween costumes while also trying to get ahead on Thanksgiving travel plans.
In the midst of it all, everyday tasks like cooking dinner can seem like a real burden.
However, it is possible to get a healthy dinner on the table with minimal active prep time and no more than five ingredients. That’s great news when it comes to maximizing your time in the evenings. Prioritizing healthy meals will also help you make the most of other healthy habits, like getting good quality sleep.
Prioritize Protein and Fiber
When it comes to piecing together a healthy meal that also supportsrestful sleep, fiber and protein are two essentials. Research published in Advances in Nutrition found that getting adequate protein is associated with better sleep quality, and that people who eat diets high in fiber tend to spend more time in the slow-wave sleep phase (often called the “deep sleep” phase). Meat, eggs, and plant sources like soy, beans, and legumes are easy protein sources, while fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are packed with fiber.
Let Your Appliances Do the work
Healthy cooking does require a little more foresight than ordering takeout, but there are ways to make things easier for yourself. If you’re in the mood for something cozy and have time in the morning to prep, a slow-cooker dinner could be the answer. These 5-Ingredient Black Bean-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes provide plant-based protein from black beans, plus fiber from the beans and sweet potatoes. The meal cooks for four hours in the slow cooker, but you can program your machine to keep the recipe warm until you get home in the evening. All you need to do before dinner is break out the toppings of your choice, and throw everything together.
Don’t underestimate the power of your oven, either. If you own a sheet pan, fill it with vegetables and some meat, stick it in the oven, and go do something else while it cooks. If you’re in the mood for fish, this 5-Ingredient Sheet Pan Salmon With Vegetables takes just 40 minutes, and is packed with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids (a type of fat that’s particularly good for heart health, according to the American Heart Association).
If you’re more of a meat-and-potatoes person, the sheet pan recipe below delivers just that. The prep is simple, and the flavor comes from harissa paste that you can buy at the supermarket.
Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken Breasts With Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes
Total time: 50 minutes
2 large split chicken breasts, with bone and skin (about 1 pound total)
1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut in florets
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cut in 1-inch pieces
¼ cup mild harissa sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss together to coat chicken and vegetables evenly with harissa and oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place chicken breasts skin side-up in the middle of a sheet pan. Spread cauliflower and sweet potatoes in an even layer in the remaining space on the sheet pan.
4. Bake 40 minutes in the preheated oven. If chicken is not opaque and cooked throughout, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition per serving: 428 calories, 20 g fat (4 g saturated), 256 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 7 g fiber, 29 g protein
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