Like many others, I have been working full-time from my dining room table while home-schooling three active, busy and always-eating kids. The last thing I want to do is spend more time in the kitchen than I need to, especially if it means I’m washing a bunch of dirty pots and pans.
I need delicious, healthy dinner recipes that feed a family of five in under 30 minutes. Oh, and I need all of this food to fit into my weekly grocery budget while utilizing the food already in my fridge. Sound impossible? Let me introduce you to the one-pan dinner. Cooking for one or two? The one-pan is also for you! It’s a fantastic option for any sized household because you will have plenty of leftovers for lunch or dinner throughout the week. When I discovered that I could literally just throw these simple ingredients onto a sheet pan and cook them, I knew this trend would quickly become my go-to way to prepare dinners for my family. One pan and dinner’s done!
“High Low Lean No”: The no-brainer sheet-pan formula
I am a firm believer that recipes can be super easy, delicious and healthy. As an integrative nutritionist and celebrity health coach, when my clients come to me unsure of what to fill their pans with, I teach them a simple formula: High Low Lean No.
- HIGH: Your pan should be filled with high amounts of fiber and healthy carbs, which means veggies! A few of my favorite go-to veggies that cook really well are broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. The list goes on and on and you can personalize your pan with veggies you already have or the ones you know your family will actually eat.
- LOW: Include low amounts of healthy fats. My favorite fat to use is extra-virgin olive oil because it is one of the healthiest fats, boasting anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower risk of certain diseases.
- LEAN: The star of your one-pan meal is the protein you choose. It's important to make sure that your meals are full of plenty of smart proteins like grilled poultry, seafood and plant-based options like legumes, beans and quinoa. Studies tell us that protein keeps us full and is important for building and retaining muscle mass.
- NO: I say no to added sugars and salt. The Lebanese in me encourages people to put the salt-shaker down and pick up flavor-enhancing spices that have medicinal properties. I am all about using ingredients that are rich in antioxidants. Some of my favorite spices and herbs to use are mint, basil, sage, ginger, rosemary, turmeric, parsley, garlic, pepper and chili flakes. Play around with your spices, they can really add an amazing punch to your meals. I promise you won’t miss the sodium!
With this formula you can throw together a simple and delicious meal, no recipe required. But here are some of my favorite combinations if you need a little inspiration.
Winner, winner, one-pan chicken dinner
This one-pan baked chicken with vegetables looks as if it took hours to put together, but it can be prepared in minutes. The parsley, lemon and chili flakes give it a fresh taste, while the olive oil and chicken juices cook the vegetables to juicy perfection. This high protein, healthy carb dinner will be your go-to for an easy and surprisingly sophisticated meal.
The most popular fish in the sea one-pan salmon
This powerhouse one-pan salmon, Brussels sprouts and asparagus dish is so easy to prep that you’ll have dinner on the table in 30 minutes! The flavored olive oil melts into these ingredients and creates an incredible flavor, plus salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, potassium, selenium and antioxidants. Brussels sprouts and asparagus are nutrition kings as well.
Eat the rainbow one-pan acorn squash
This vegetarian one-pan creation is loaded with tons of easy-to-digest plant proteins and fiber. I love a good winter vegetables and beans combo. They are super filling and always a crowd pleaser. Sliced acorn squash and white beans perfectly caramelize on the outside and remain creamy on the inside. I love adding broccoli to this dish, but you can personalize it with any veggie you have in your fridge. Serving this dish over quinoa makes it a well-rounded family meal. Throw your ingredients in the oven while your quinoa cooks to cut down on prep time!