Healthy meals, to me, always have a few adjectives in common. First, and most obvious, they must be healthy. I don’t have a bunch of rules on what that means. I think we all know healthy when we see it, just like we know unhealthy when we see it. Although, the food industry is remarkable in making stunningly unhealthy things appear to be very healthy but that’s an article for another day…
Second, they need to be relatively quick and easy to make. I know that’s not part of the traditional definition of “healthy meals” but it is my kitchen so I get to make the rules. Time is precious to everyone, including me. I’d love to make the healthiest meal on the planet, but if it takes four hours, that’s useless. I need to be able to have them on the table in usually less than thirty minutes of preparation and cooking time. I give bonus points for any healthy meals that allow ahead-of-dinner-time preparation (e.g., chopping veggies, making quinoa earlier in the day, etc.) Anything that saves me time increases the usefulness of a healthy meal recipe!
Third, and let’s face it, this one matters most, they need to be yummy. I have two young kids. I want to teach them good eating habits and get them to consistently eat their vegetables (yikes, I just sounded like my Mom…) without resorting to violence (kidding) or threats (semi kidding). Having them be a part of the process helps a ton, but they are still not likely to eat raw Kale. So, taste matters and matters a ton in my world.
With those three adjectives in mind (remember, my healthy recipe must yield a healthy, quick and easy to make, and yummy meal), I give you one of my all time favorites: Healthy Veggie Pasta. This baby is so easy, so quick, super healthy, and very tasty. Yeah, I think I pretty much nailed the health recipe requirements big time!
Healthy Veggie Pasta Ingredients
- Chopped veggies (I love Broccoli, Onion, Bell Peppers, Carrots, and Snap Peas but be creative here; if it sounds good to you, run with it!)
- Pasta (I think that bow-tie or some of the other “more fun” shapes are great for this dish, especially with the kids)
- Italian salad dressing
- Olive Oil
Yep, only four main ingredients (obviously more if you count each of the vegetables, but that’s too much work for me). Again, super easy.
Healthy Veggie Pasta Recipe
Chop veggies. You can see from my pictures the size of everything. The smaller the pieces, the faster everything with cook. I prefer the veggies just cooked so that they are warm, but still crunchy. I do not like them softened at all and this reduced the nutritional content. So, cook them as little as you can tolerate for a healthier version.
Cook Pasta. While you are chopping the veggies, cook the pasta to an “al dente” doneness. Usually, there’s directions on the bag/box for how long and at what temperature. Just follow those (typically about 8-11 minutes, depending on the kind of noodle). Once done, remove from heat, drain, rinse, and set aside.
Saute the veggies. Add a tablespoon or two of the olive oil to a large pan and warm over medium heat. Add the denser veggies first. For me, this means the broccoli first, followed a few minutes later by the onion and carrots, with the bell peppers and peas only in last. The peppers and peas will only get 4-5 minutes of cooking time. They can get soft and squishy if overcooked and my family and I give that a big Dislike!
Combine and add dressing. Once the veggies have reached a desired doneness, combine the veggies with the cooked pasta and add about 2-4 tablespoons of the Italian dressing. Mix thoroughly and enjoy!
This one is a big crowd pleaser and I am hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does! If you have any questions, please just ask!
Thanks for reading!
The finished product!