These real food recipes are the answer to what to make for dinner! Everyone will love these fresh ideas made with wholesome ingredients.
Want mealtime inspiration? We get it. Dinnertime is one of the hardest times of the day to get fresh, wholesome meals on the table. So we’ve taken the guesswork out of it. Meet our list of our top healthy whole food recipes that make dinner a breeze!
These ideas are all designed around healthy, whole real foods: ingredients as close to their original state as possible. That means lots of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil. Even better: it means easy comfort recipes the entire family will enjoy! These are some of the top dinners we’ve made in our kitchen and now make on repeat (really).
First up in our real food recipes: this honey garlic shrimp! There’s nothing like the sweet savory combination of honey garlic glaze and juicy shrimp. The best part?It takes 10 minutes to make. This one is hits all the comforting, satisfying dinner notes with a lightning fast prep speed. It’s hard to find those recipes with that elusive trifecta of healthy, easy and delicious: and this one has it in spades. Add pan fried broccoli for a tasty meal.
This pizza soup is a comfort food recipe to the max! Who wouldn’t want all the flavors of a supreme pizza wrapped up in a cozy bowl? The broth is flavored with pizza sauce, tomatoes, and a little Parmesan to make it creamy. The toppings are swimming along inside: bell peppers, garlic and mushrooms, making for a savory pop that surprises you in every bite. Serve with garlic toast, grilled cheese or simply crusty bread and it’s a meal you’ll want to make over and over…and over.
Meet your recipe soulmate: Crispy Avocado Tacos. Could there be a taster tortilla filling? We think not. You’ve got avocado fries, breaded and baked in a hot oven until crispy, with a texture reminiscent of a fried fish taco. Then top that with spiced black beans, pico de gallo, and the refreshing crunch of romaine lettuce. Drizzle on a creamy lime and cilantro sauce, and it’s heaven on a plate. It tastes like restaurant tacos, but it’s easy to whip up in your kitchen.
We’re always on the lookout for fast flavorful real food recipes, and this one is now regular rotation. Try this quick Vegan Curry! Coconut milk and curry powder make healthy vegetables taste like a decadent treat. And, it takes under 25 minutes to whip up! It’s an ode to the simplicity of plant-based ingredients and great seasoning. It comes out so delicious in such a short time: you’ll feel like a kitchen magician.
This easy cauliflower stir fry is an ideal healthy and easy recipe! Fry up the cauliflower until lightly charred and tender, then add bell peppers and a punchy stir fry sauce. It’s the best way to make eating your veggies irresistible. This recipe has so many healthy vegetables, it provides 221% of your daily Vitamin C!
Here’s an easy dinner recipe that seems to please just about everyone: taco salad! This Tex-Mex salad has been impressing for decades, and it gives us all the 1990’s nostalgic vibes. Here’s why we love it: it’s customizable for any eater and easy to scale up for a crowd. Use the traditional beef or this incredibly delicious Vegan Walnut Taco Meat, and top with this genius creamy Taco Salad Dressing.
Here’s our new favorite kitchen trick: this Quick Chili recipe! Yes, we dare say: this comfort food recipe is lightening fast. In just 25 minutes you have a fast and easy dinner recipe. 25 minutes! And most of that time is hands off. All you have to do is cut one onion: otherwise it’s dump and stir. Even better: the flavor is fantastic! There’s nothing about it that tastes like a short cut. We’ve made this many times already, and every time we make it, I think: Wow, that was easy.
This Blackened Salmon is so flavor filled, you’ll feel like you ordered it at a restaurant. Even better: it’s fast and easy. The cooking process takes just 5 to 8 minutes. The homemade blackened seasoning has a savory intrigue and makes a crispy black crust on the outside of the fish. (Yeah, it blackens your pan too…but it’s 100% worth it.)
Oh hello. Meet our favorite vegetarian and vegan comfort food recipe: the Falafel Burger! We don’t always have the energy to fry up a batch of authentic falafel. So eating it in burger form is the next best thing! These are easy to make with canned chickpeas. The combination of a cumin and coriander-scented chickpea patty with cool cucumber sauce and all the fixin’s is pretty darn epic. It’s a healthy vegetarian and vegan dinner recipe that everyone loves.
There’s no such thing as too many easy dinner ideas. So let us present our new favorite: these incredible sheet pan fajitas! Everyone loves this meal, even meat eaters. It’s a great way to make a fun healthy dinner where no one notices there’s no meat! Roast up lots of veggies on a sheet pan with spices, and serve with refried beans and “guac-ish", an easy spin on guacamole.
Here’s a comfort food recipe that gives us that cozy feeling every time we make it: Shrimp Fried Rice! It’s healthy, it’s over the top delicious, and it’s total comfort food. Fried rice is pretty easy to make by winging it. But if you follow this recipe, it’s the path to shrimp fried rice that tastes like takeout. The garlic, ginger and soy sauce meld perfectly with the colorful veggies, bursts of shrimp and gooey bits of egg into a symphony of flavor.
WOW is all we can say about this vegan enchiladas recipe! It tops the charts (with our vegan lasagna and shepherd’s pie) as one of our most crowd-pleasing plant based recipes…ever. Tortillas are wrapped around a veggie filling oozing with flavor, and it’s all doused in a zesty homemade enchilada sauce. With the crunchy veggie topping, this dish looks simply incredible.
The question we get asked the most: what’s the best fast, easy and healthy dinner recipe? Here’s one that we make on the regular: and it’s so simple, we often forget to think about it as a “recipe.” Try these Refried Bean Tacos! The filling is as simple as opening a few cans of refried beans, always a staple in our pantry. And the toppings are endlessly customizable based on what you have on hand. You can whip these up in just 15 minutes, making them even faster than fast food.
This Hawaiian bowl of seasoned raw fish, rice and crunchy veggies has caught on here on the mainland, and everybody’s doing it! Because poke is that good. And guess what? You can easily make poke in the comfort of your own home: it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, or even better for a showy meal for entertaining.
Meet this dream-boat healthy comfort food recipe: baked Spaghetti Squash Lasagna! This delicious no-noodle spin on the classic so satisfying, you’ll find yourself dreaming about the next time you get to eat it. It’s naturally gluten-free yet cheesy enough that you won’t miss the noodles. Mix those squash noodles with ricotta and Parmesan, then bake them with marinara and gooey mozzarella on top.
Roasting your dinner on a baking sheet makes for an easy meal concept! Here's a whole food plant based sheet pan dinner to load on the veggies. This recipe has 4 of our best vegetables to eat all at one time: and it’s seriously tasty, too. It’s perfect to meal prep for healthy dinners or lunches throughout the week.
Ready for our new favorite cozy and healthy soup? Loaded potato soup. Who could pass that up? This one is impossibly creamy with intermittent potato chunks, using no heavy cream at all! Old Bay gives it an irresistible undertone. It’s so easy to make: you don’t even need a blender!
Looking for a great whole food recipe? Try this pesto salmon! Bright green pesto goes hand in hand with tender baked fish to make a stunning dinner. Because really: what isn’t better with a little pesto on top? The savory, garlicky sauce makes the flaky fish pop: you’ll already be taking your second bite before finishing the first. It’s easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to guests.
Want a comfort food recipe bursting with flavor? Meet our Vegetarian Tortilla Soup! Ready in a little over 30 minutes, it’s full of flavor and one of our favorites that always pleases everyone with its robust, smoky flavor. It's also vegan and gluten-free, so it fits a variety of diets!
Here’s a healthy lunch or dinner idea to spice up your routine: avocado tuna salad! This spin swaps out the classic mayonnaise for nutrient-rich avocado. The flavor is so fresh and delicious, you may give up the mayo version altogether. It takes only a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes to put together.
Bowl meals are so popular these days, and often they’re on our table because it’s one of the easiest ways to turn random ingredients into a healthy whole food recipe! But here’s the thing: you can’t just throw anything into a bowl. A good grain bowl has to be well-seasoned, and play up contrasts in color, texture and flavor. It’s got to have enough protein to keep you full, and a great sauce to bring it all together.
More recipe inspiration
Looking for more real food recipe ideas? Here are some of our favorite recipe collections to try:
Mix the honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and cornstarch in a small bowl, mixing until mostly smooth (a few small lumps are ok).
In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil on medium high heat. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side until opaque and cooked through, turning them with tongs.
Turn off the heat and remove the shrimp. Add the glaze to the pan and stir until thickened, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Once thickened, stir the shrimp back into the sauce and serve.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.