Regardless of how much you know about nutrition, it can still be a struggle to think of healthy dinner ideas sometimes! Personally, I go through “phases” of eating the same foods for too long, and sometimes struggle to find enough variety in my diet.
Lately I have been relying on my slow cooker, which is an excellent tool to easily make healthy dinners for you, and your whole family!
Whether you are trying to get fit for summer, or you are just trying to stay healthy over the holidays; finding easy healthy dinner ideas is a key to keeping up your appearance!
As a professional basketball player, it is vital that I eat nutritious food every single day; but this becomes extremely difficult in season. Working with my slow cooker on a consistent basis has allowed me to pack nutrients in to all of my meals, without wasting too much time during my day to make a healthy lunch or healthy dinner.
If you don’t own a slow cooker, InstaPot, or pressure cooker yet, my advice is to buy one as quickly as possible! Having the best cooking supplies is essential to perfect meals. Don’t underestimate the importance of your cooking gadgets!
Below you will find the attributes of my personal healthy dinner ideas!
Protein for Your Healthy Dinner!
Although you can get protein from many different sources (even if you are vegan or vegetarian), I normally stick with chicken, turkey or fish as my main protein source.
If it is financially possible for you, I highly recommend that you buy organic chicken or turkey whenever possible!
There are many excellent vegan protein sources you can add such as beans and lentils!
The quality is always better, and you can be much more confident that the chicken you are eating matches the quality of the healthy dinner you are trying to make.
For me, it is easiest to put 2-3 pieces of chicken or turkey in my slow cooker with water and white wine, to create a nice shredded meat and soup broth. I never buy chicken broth or any broth for that matter. To me, the taste is far better when you make the broth yourself!
Any chicken or turkey with bones it will make an even stronger tasting broth as well!
Aside from the animal products, you can also add protein from plant sources as well! Potatoes, beans, lentils, quinoa, and peas are some of my favorites! You can easily create your own healthy dinner ideas by mixing and matching any of these ingredients on your own!
Carbohydrate Options for a Healthy Dinner
Even though I am a professional athlete, I still do not believe in intaking overly large amounts of carbohydrates per day. There certainly is a “minimum” amount that I need to function, but my body does not do well pounding plates of pasta or rice.
Instead, I prefer to get as much of my carbohydrates per day as possible from fruits and vegetables, which gives me more sustained energy overall!
Two of the carbohydrate bases to my normal slow cooker meals are parsnips and potatoes. Parsnips have a little bit of a sweeter flavor, while potatoes have less flavor overall. Both can be considered root vegetables, but they have very different nutrient compositions.
Regardless, I believe they both are much more valuable carbohydrates for me than pasta or rice!
Other plant foods which I add to serve as complex carbohydrates for my dinners include onions, carrots, peas, lentils, beans, quinoa, and broccoli.
Although eating vegetables as your primary carbohydrate will certainly lower your carb count for the day, I am sure that the massive amount of nutrients you intake up for any lack of energy you may think will come from eating less carbs!
I am not great at adding vegetables to my normally healthy dinners, but being able to simply chop them and toss them in to a slow cooker to sit while I am gone to practice or whenever; helps me tremendously with getting these vital nutrients!
Choosing Fiber for a Healthy Dinner
Fiber is one of the most consistently overlooked nutrients, and a lack of fiber is often the cause of many of our intestinal issues. By creating your own healthy dinner ideas using a slow cooker, you can rapidly increase the amount of fiber that you have in your diet daily!
Any of the vegetables listed above can certainly provide ample amounts of fiber, but beans are the real superstar here!
Beans contain massive amounts of perfectly tolerated fiber, which can have incredible effects on your digestive system and overall health.
One trick that I find very valuable with this is to soak the beans in water the night before you are going to put them in your slow cooker meal. As you will see after your first time doing so, this makes the beans much easier on your stomach to digest. By simply soaking the beans overnight, you will remove toxins and other unnecessary parts of the bean which you do not need.
You can then enjoy all the health benefits of beans without fearing any digestive issues!
There are many different types of beans, and adding any variation to your healthy slow cooker meal will serve you incredibly well!
Healthy Dietary Fats
Normally I would include a certain few foods which are high in healthy dietary fat, but these slow cooker meals rarely contain any! Quinoa and beans do contain some healthy fats, but not much overall.
When eating healthy dinners such as this, you also leave yourself extra room in your day to much on nuts or nut butters, amongst other delicious healthy dietary fats! One of the many advantages of having planned healthy meals such as this is the freedom it provides in the rest of your schedule, and you will surely appreciate this over time!
Concluding Thoughts – Best Healthy Dinner Ideas
Of all the healthy dinner ideas in the world, using a slow cooker is one of my absolute favorites because it fits my personal schedule so well, and it is an excellent form of hygienic cooking! This type of cooking has truly incredible value for both your diet, and your overall life.
One of the biggest keys to maintaining a healthy diet is to find a style of eating which suits you!
The slow cooker is simple and user friendly, and has room for a huge amount of variety!
For those of you who might not have time to sit and cook specific meals every night, slow cooker meals can generally be prepared in 15-20 minutes! This will certainly leave you time for the rest of your activities, and provide you the opportunity to come home to a healthy dinner far more often than normal!
Use these keys to help you find your own groove and make healthy dinners every night of the week, on your way to your best body ever!