Flowers are great—but a home-cooked meal is even better. Whether it is a special occasion, or you are cooking for your partner, your wife, or a group of friends, you can show you really care by mixing it up with healthy dinner ideas and a great presentation.
First—let’s define what we mean by healthy dinner ideas. Basically, this means plenty of color, texture, and food variety—without a lot of sugar, fat, or highly processed meats. This means your basic game day party menu is off the table. Where do you start?
Start by trusting your heart to come up with some healthy dinner Ideas
At its best, cooking is a matter of heart. Not only are you investing in the food you are putting in front of others; but you are demonstrating you care about their health and well-being. Cooking and eating with your loved one(s) is a warm, enjoyable way to spend any time of the day. So let’s take a look at the type of meal that might go over well with your date, wife, or significant other:
Knowledge – the secret ingredient
Before you grab a pan or pick up a great piece of fish, learn what your partner enjoys. For many, the effort to discover and deliver on preferences is more powerful than the execution of the recipe itself. In other words, it’s the thought that counts. If your wife or sweetie would swoon over lightly braised fish with fennel and thinly sliced potatoes—you might want to avoid the three inch porterhouse slab, even if it is what you prefer. Also, discreetly or directly inquiring in advance about food choices has its advantages—you can avoid a food allergy or sensitivity, or a type of food that your partner really dislikes.
Healthy dining combines delicious, nutritious raw materials with smart prep choices. Again, choice comes into play. A deep-fried shrimp can get lost in its crust—or embellished by a tangy dipping sauce. Braising, poaching, steaming, and stir-fry are all healthy ways to cook food while minimizing grease and added fats. For surf, turf, or poultry, go light when your food choices call for it.
Some like it hot
When you start to understand the food preferences of your wife or friends, be sure to inquire about spices. The entire experience of a piece of meat or fish is altered with the use of spices during preparation. Whether in rubs, while braising, or in sauces, spices can make or break a dish. Does your loved one like tarragon? Rick’s wife, Audrey, does not, so he’ll take that into consideration prior to creating his date night menu.
For robust recipes, consider starting with some spice. The flavor of poultry can blossom with the use of sage, basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Depending on the type of seafood and its preparation, key spices might include oregano, paprika, rosemary, cilantro, fennel, ginger, along with garlic, onion, lemon zest and celery seed. Depending on the direction of your dish, mustard, garlic, oregano, rosemary, peppers, and basil go well with beef dishes.
If you have difficulty preparing ethnic dishes with authentic spices, check around for interesting substitutes—especially if your dining companion likes those dishes spicy hot.
On the side
Healthy dinner ideas usually include salads and sides to complement your main dish. If you can, try to get seasonal, by picking interesting fare that fits your food choices and budget. Attending a local farmer’s market to purchase your complimentary sides is a great way to get ideas to round out your menu. Mixing colors and flavors in a side dish gives your guest a chance to sample something new that sets off your main dish.
Try to include multicolored beet and goat cheese, or combine freshly grilled corn, sliced off the cob, avocado, and tomato with your salad starter. You can also combine thinly sliced cucumber with red onions tossed with a light vinaigrette and salt. Another crowd-pleaser is hummus, or try boiled small new potatoes, tossed with lemon juice, parsley and diced red, green, and yellow peppers.
Wrap it up with dessert
Your dessert is the finishing touch. Consider a fruit salad parfait on a bed of egg custard, or a fabulous homemade raspberry sorbet. Or, consider dark chocolate cookies served with sliced fruit, easy-make molten cupcakes, or make any kind of filling variation in a whoopee pie—she’ll love you for it.
Add to your meal with the right bottle of wine. We love the Vivino wine app. Vivino takes advantage of data supplied by its 19 million users to give you a review, rating, and basic pricing on wines you are considering for your meal.
For friends or a special loved one, creating a meal around healthy dinner ideas demonstrates you care, and that you know how to cook. Now, just don’t forget the flowers!