Shrimp Fried Rice & Other Healthy, Quick Dinners The Whole Family Will Eat

Easy_Shrimp_Fried_Rice iVillage

After a full day of work, school activities and errands, it can be a struggle to get a quick, healthy dinner on the table that the whole family will like.  But accomplishing this may be easier than you think.  I’m not the greatest cook in the world, but by using the simple formula of meat + veggie + grain for use in a one-dish meal, I’ve come up with some pretty tasty dinners using whatever I have in my kitchen at the time.  It’s a simple concept, but it helps take the guesswork out of dinner for me, and ensures that my kids are getting plenty of nutrition.

Choose at least one item from each of the following three groups, depending on whatever you think would taste good together.  (These lists are examples.  If you think of something that’s not on here, all the better!) Saute the meat and veggies with cooking spray or a bit of heart-healthy oil, (Add the grain last) add your own combination of fresh herbs, spices, broth, olive oil, low-cal/low sodium sauce, wine and/or low-fat cheese (parm and feta are my favorites), and you’re done!

Meat/Protein (cut into bite-size pieces)

  • trimmed chicken breasts/thighs
  • pork tenderloin
  • lean beef
  • fish (tilapia, haddock, salmon, etc)
  • shrimp
  • lean ground turkey, chicken or beef
  • lean turkey or chicken sausage
  • scallops
  • tofu
  • scrambled eggs


  • whole-grain pasta
  • brown rice
  • couscous, taboule, quinoa, or any whole grain

Veggie (Fruit) (whatever is in your kitchen.  In-season fresh is best, but frozen works.)

  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • sweet colored peppers
  • spinach or another leafy green
  • squash or zucchini
  • broccoli
  • peas/snow pea pods
  • onion, garlic, shallot, scallions
  • eggplant

If you want to go meatless, swap in beans (legumes) or tofu.  Be sure not to go too carb heavy, and include plenty of veggies for low-calorie, fill-you-up fiber.

If you’re more of a follow-the-recipe kind of person, here are two of my favorite recipes using this idea:

Shrimp Fried Rice (pictured)

  • olive oil/vegetable cooking spray
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 lb. shelled and deveined medium shrimp, thawed
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 c. shredded or matchstick carrots
  • 1 c. sliced snow peas and/or frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

Coat a large nonstick skillet with vegetable cooking spray.  Add eggs, cook until set.  Remove; slice into thin strips.  Add 3 teaspoons oil to wiped skillet and cook shrimp over medium-high heat.  Cook for 3 minutes, remove.  Add garlic and ginger, cook 30 seconds.  Add broccoli, carrots, and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add snow peas and yellow squash and cook 2 minutes more.  Stir in broth and soy sauce and simmer for 3 minutes, until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Stir in brown rice, green onions, and eggs.  Reduce heat to low and warm through, about 5 minutes.

Rigatoni With Poultry Sausage & Sweet Peppers

  • 8 oz. dried, whole wheat rigatoni or penne
  • 1 12 oz. pkg. cooked, low-fat poultry sausage links (I’ve used all kinds)
  • 2 medium sweet peppers (yellow, red, and/or orange), cut into pieces.  (I also sometimes throw in other veggies)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper (I leave this out on my kids’)
  • 1/4 cut snipped fresh basil
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Cook pasta and drain.  Cut sausage into 1-inch pieces.  In a skillet cook sausage and sweet peppers over medium heat until sausage is brown.  Stir in broth and crushed pepper.  Bring to boiling. Reduce to simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Pour over pasta, add basil and grated cheese.  Toss gently to coat.  Because this is a broth-based sauce, use a full-flavored broth that you like.


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