Eat Outside the Box: Healthy TV Dinners

July 11, 2016 by Kari Karch

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With so many good shows on TV, I know you may not want to spend much time in your kitchen. How do you think TV dinners started?

Having grown up in the 1970s, my mom was always proud to cook a homemade meal so that the family could sit down together for a delicious dinner. She would cook for hours as I played outside with friends and my dad toiled away at work. The smells wafted through our kitchen and out the front door as a signal that dinner would soon be on the table.

But there were also a couple of fun nights in which we’d forego the dining room, pull out the TV trays, plop them in front of the tube, and have a mindless dinner while watching The Love Boat.

Now, thirty some years later, I love to occasionally have a TV dinner night at my house. The only difference is the cooking style. My mom used to make heavy, German foods such as spaetzel, paprikash, and potato dishes loaded with gravies. Thank goodness I was an active kid or I’d still be wearing a tire around my midsection if I ate that way every night.

I’ve taught myself over the years how to tone down the heavy starched foods and lighten up on the butter (ugh but butter is so good I know!). In fact, vegetables and fruits are the main component of most of my meals these days. Being able to test recipes for a living and cook for a long, healthy life ahead has given me the incentive to cook not just for a healthier me, but for a healthier you. So I’ve decided to flip the script on TV dinners since they have such a bad wrap for being bland, over-salted, and high in fats. Instead, here are a couple of my favorite healthy meals that can be easily prepared and even enjoyed in front of your television.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Buddha Bowl

1 sweet potato
1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup spinach
¼ cup cucumbers, sliced
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Kalamata olives
1 Tbsp. hummus
1 Tbsp. hemp seeds
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake for 45 mins. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Remove sweet potato and let cool. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the spinach and quinoa. Place a 1½ cup serving into a bowl. Top with slices of sweet potato, cucumbers, red onion, olives, and hummus. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with hemp seeds.

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Kari Karch

Kari Karch is a 19-year veteran of the culinary industry, creator of Kiss the Cook, and the head chef and spokesperson for the Kenmore brand. She has made many notable appearances on ABC Morning News, on WGN, on the Cooking Channel and as a judge for the World Food Championships.