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Healthy and fast meals to make for dinner

We’re all so busy these days we barely have time to eat, never mind cook.  I’ve included my faves that can be made quickly and are really healthy. 
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional, fresh should be used)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium
  • One (2 1/4 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Small squeeze fresh lemon juice

1. Heat butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter solids are lightly browned and the butter smells nutty, about one minute longer. Immediately add onion, celery, carrot, and whole thyme sprigs (if using), reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add stock, squash, and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook until squash is completely tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Using tongs, discard bay leaves and thyme stems. Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a countertop blender, blend soup until completely smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve and enjoy.
CILANTRO LIME SHRIMP WITH ZUCCHINI NOODLES
This cilantro lime shrimp with zucchini noodles is simply drool worthy. Lime and cilantro combo makes for a full-flavored dish that tastes like restaurant quality, while only taking minutes to prepare! A perfect low-carb option when you’re looking for a quick healthy dinner that’s packed with flavor.

INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 1 lb (450g) shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lime
  • 3 medium zucchini, spiralized or cut into noodles
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon cilantro, honey, lime juice and lime zest. Add uncooked shrimp and toss to mix well. Marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the drained shrimp, cook for 2 minutes, flip, and add the marinade. Cook for 1 more minute and set the shrimp aside.
3. In the same skillet add vegetable broth to deglaze and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini noodles and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and adjust seasoning. Toss everything and serve immediately topped with additional cilantro, enjoy!
GARLIC BUTTER CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS
Garlic Butter Chicken and Asparagus — Garlic lovers will love this garlic butter chicken baked with a side of asparagus. Crisp at the perfection, this one pan dish will have your family gathering around the table in no time for a busy weeknight!

INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 6 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 to 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (olive oil can be substituted for butter)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian herbs (dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Slices of lemon, for garnish
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, lemon juice, garlic, honey, Italian herbs; season with salt and pepper, to taste and set aside.
3. In a skillet over medium fire, brown chicken thighs on both sides for 4 to 5 minutes per side.
4. Arrange browned chicken thighs and asparagus in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.
5. Drizzle and brush the butter mixture over the chicken and asparagus and arrange lemon slices on top of chicken.
6. Bake into the oven until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired. Enjoy! ♡
QUINOA AND CUCUMBER SALAD
This fresh, crunchy quinoa salad is exactly what you need when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. Packed with nutrient-dense veggies and tossed in a creamy, avocado-based dressing, it will leave you feeling full and energized throughout the day.

INGREDIENTS LIST
Serves: 4 – 6  
For the dressing:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups cucumber, spiralized or julienned
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large avocados, diced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 handful chopped parsley (or cilantro)

DIRECTIONS
The salad: In a large bowl combine cucumber, tomato, avocado, onion, quinoa and parsley.
The dressing: In a blender or food processor, combine avocado, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Add in olive oil progressively until just combined. Transfer to a jar and drizzle over the salad before serving.
ZUCCHINI NOODLES IN CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE
Try these zucchini noodles for a low carb comfort dinner that will be on your table in less than 20 minutes! Zucchini is quickly infused in a creamy tomato sauce flavored with onion and garlic. A good amount of fresh thyme, parmesan and black pepper add some sharpness to this dish with delicious hints of mediterranean flavors.


INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Paprika
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (if do not eat dairy, substitute with vegetable broth)
  • Grated parmesan

DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare zucchini noodles using a spiralizer or a julienne peeler.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with olive oil. Saute onion, and garlic for a minute, until the onion is softened but not browned. While it cooks, sprinkle with crushed red pepper, paprika and salt. Cook for about 2 minutes, occasionally stirring, until onions soften.
3. Add crushed tomatoes and bouillon cube dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water. Add thyme, mix, and bring to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the sauce reduces just a bit. Season with more red pepper and salt, if needed. In the end, while on simmer, add heavy cream, mix it in and cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add spiralized zucchini and mix everything well to combine. Simmer on low, until zucchini are cooked through but still crisp.
5. Adjust seasoning, and serve hot immediately with grated parmesan, additional thyme, red pepper flakes and fresh cracked black pepper.
BAKED HONEY GARLIC SALMON IN FOIL

INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 1 pound (450g) side of salmon
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed though a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 lemon, sliced, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Position a rack in the middle of you oven. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with a large piece of foil (or parchment paper) to fold over and seal to create a packet.
2. In a bowl, combine honey, mustard, lemon juice, oil, paprika, red pepper flakes, Cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
3. Place the salmon onto lined baking sheet. Pour the honey mustard mixture over the salmon, and spread evenly over the fish. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt and cracked pepper. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon to cover and completely seal the packet closed so the sauce does not leak.
4. Bake until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish and your preference of doneness. Carefully open the foil, and broil under broiler for 2-3 minutes on medium heat to caramelize the top of salmon. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with lemon slices. Enjoy!