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10 Simple Dinner Recipes for When Your Kids Are Sick of the Same Old, Same Old

These flavorful, family-friendly suppers are also doctor-approved.

After years of treating patients for cholesterol disorders, prediabetes and childhood obesity, Julia Nordgren, M.D., was motivated to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America’s Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate Program, where she graduated with honors. Since then, Chef Nordgren has helped countless families move the needle on becoming more intentional about their eating while developing sustainable and impactful lifestyle changes.

The recipes collected in Chef Nordgren’s The New Family Table reflect what's new about the family table—the influence of global cuisine around us. Indian flavors, Mexican spices, Asian cooking techniques and Mediterranean eating are all a part of our rich food landscape, and it's easier than you might think to bring that to your own busy family table.

Cauliflower Tacos

Tacos are one of the most beloved foods around, and a staple in our family kitchen. I have yet to meet a child (or adult!) who doesn’t love them. These tacos are full of flavor and have all the veggies, whole grain and lean protein to make a nutritious meal.


  • 12 (6-inch) whole-grain tortillas
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Ground pepper

Directions: 1. Prepare all the toppings and set them on the table in individual bowls.

  • Wrap the stack of tortillas in foil and put them in the oven to warm while preparing the filling.

  • Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil. When the oil is shimmering, add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Add chili powder and smoked paprika. Stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Add cauliflower and water. Cook, stirring occasionally until the water evaporates and cauliflower softens for about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 15 minutes, until liquid from the tomatoes evaporates and the mixture is heated through. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

  • Serve the spiced beans and cauliflower mixture in warm tortillas, and allow everyone to dress them at the table.

Weeknight Chickpea Curry

. Working Mother

Serves 4

Photo: Jennifer Davick

Indian food can be time-consuming to make well. I wanted a way to make these flavors accessible any night of the week. A jar of curry paste does the trick! I also always try to have coconut milk and chickpeas in the pantry so I can pull this dish together anytime.


  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar red curry paste
  • 2 (13.5-ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions: 1. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat; add oil. When the oil is hot, add shallot and pepper and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger to cook a minute more. Add curry paste, stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes more until well-combined and fragrant.

  1. Add coconut milk; stir to combine.

  2. Add chickpeas and simmer until heated through, 15 minutes or so.

  3. Serve curry over brown rice, and garnish with cilantro.

Rob’s Almost-World-Famous Veggie Chili

. Working Mother

Serves 6-8

Photo: Jennifer Davick

My husband’s superpower is actually doing dishes. Thank goodness! I can make a delicious meal, but I make a crazy mess in the kitchen. Every now and then, however, Rob steps out of his comfort zone and makes his chili, which is famous to us, if no one else. The boys and I happily do dishes when he does the cooking. This chili tastes even better the next day.


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder (optional, but adds a nice smoky flavor)
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, depending on desired consistency
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Directions 1. Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add diced onion and cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add chili powder, cumin and ancho chili powder, if using, and cook 1 minute more.

  1. Stir in the yellow pepper and carrots, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, until veggies soften a little. Add salt and pepper.

  2. Add stock, chickpeas, tomatoes and pinto beans. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Andrew’s Favorite Fajitas

. Working Mother

Serves 4

Photo: Jennifer Davick

I first fell in love with fajitas growing up in New England when my high school besties and I would zip down Route 9 for dinner at Houlihan’s. These sizzling platters of peppers, onions, chickens and steak were the first of many great meals together! Now, our fajita-fest tradition is a family favorite. Andrew loves them piled with grilled pineapple. Yum!


For the Marinade: - 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper

For the Fajitas: - 1 pound flank steak
- 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced, or 1 (20-ounce) can sliced pineapple
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 8 tortillas

For the Adobo Sauce (Optional):

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp chopped chipotle chili in adobo sauce

Directions: 1. For the marinade, mix together Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Put flank steak in a large plastic bag and pour the marinade. Massage the marinade into the steak so it all distributes evenly. Put in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat; lightly oil grates.

  2. Grill the sliced pineapple for 3 to 4 minutes per side until heated through and grill marks appear. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and cook the onion and red and yellow peppers until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. Slice meat thinly, against the grain, for tender slices.

  5. Fill each tortilla with sautéed vegetables, a couple of slices of steak and grilled pineapple.

OPTIONAL: Combine the adobo sauce ingredients. Top fajitas with adobo sauce for a smoky, creamy and spicy flavor.

Farro With Skillet-Roasted Tomatoes

. Working Mother

Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main dish

Photo: Jennifer Davick

I was introduced to farro by a wonderful Mediterranean chef, Joyce Goldstein. She is one of my culinary idols. This is one of my go-to dishes for a quick, nutritious, filling dinner that makes a perfect lunch the next day.

Ingredients: - 6 cups of water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ cups farro
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1-pint cherry tomatoes, any color
- 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach, about 4 cups
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black paper
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese, for topping

Directions 1. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and farro. Reduce heat and cook until farro is tender but still has a bite to the grain, 15 to 18 minutes. The best way to test for doneness is to taste.

  1. While farro is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add tomatoes to the pan and cook, shaking the pan on occasion, until the tomatoes are soft and browned on the outside, 8 to 9 minutes. Working in batches, add spinach and stir until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.

  2. Drain farro in a fine-mesh strainer. Return to the warm pot and stir in the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Stir in tomatoes, spinach, salt and a few grinds of pepper.

  3. Top with goat cheese or feta cheese and serve immediately.

Kale Stew

. Working Mother

Serves 8

Photo: Jennifer Davick

I am from New England, so I always need a few hearty stews to get me through the winter. I taught this recipe to my Dartmouth Culinary Medicine class, and it was the students’ favorite meal. We made it on a cold, snowy night and it hit the spot.

Ingredients: - 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried rosemary or thyme (or both)
- 1 pound ground hot Italian sausage (optional)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (or 1 cup cooked white beans), drained and rinsed
- 5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 small bunch of Lacinato kale, washed, stems removed, leaves chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions: 1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, sage, rosemary and/or thyme and cook 1 minute more. Add sausage, if using, and cook until meat is no longer pink, 7 to 8 minutes.

  1. Add tomatoes, beans and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or longer if you have time.

  2. Add kale and allow it to slightly wilt for at least 2 minutes. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Divide stew among bowls and top with grated Parmesan.

Indian Lentil Soup

. Working Mother

Serves 8-10

Photo: Jennifer Davick

Having a few soups in your repertoire is like having a secret culinary superpower. You can create a dish with amazing, complex flavor and texture from the simplest, least expensive, most nutrient-rich vegetables around. This is especially true for lentil soup. It is delicious and filled with fiber and healthy protein. Happily, my kids love it.

Ingredients: - 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 generous pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cups red lentils
- 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

FOR EACH SERVING: - 1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 1 to 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1 lemon wedge

Directions 1. Heat oil in a large soup pot until shimmering. Add the onion, celery and carrots and sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper, if using, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add salt and black pepper.

  1. Stir in lentils and cook 2 minutes more.

  2. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add tomatoes. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

  3. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with yogurt, cilantro and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Roasted Salmon with Farro

. Working Mother

Serves 4

Photo: Jennifer Davick

This recipe has all of my favorite elements of healthy, delicious eating. The roasted salmon pairs well with farro—my favorite whole grain. The lemony parsley pesto brings everything together. It is a simple, elegant dish that is easy enough for weeknight eating and also a lovely meal to serve to guests.

Ingredients: - 2 cups farro
- 2 Tbsp plus ⅓ cups olive oil, divided
- 4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Ground black pepper
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 bunches parsley (about 3 cups loosely packed leaves)
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions 1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  1. Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add farro and cook until tender but still with a bite to the grain, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain and stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.

  2. While farro is cooking, brush salmon with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet.

  3. Roast salmon in the oven for 12-18 minutes, until the desired doneness.

  4. While salmon is cooking, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet until brown and fragrant. Remove quickly from heat and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to cool.

Simple Salmon

. Working Mother

Serves 4

Photo: Jennifer Davick

This is a go-to recipe in the middle of the week when time and energy are limited. While the salmon is cooking, steam some broccoli or cauliflower. You’ll have a beautiful dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

Ingredients: - 1 to 1½ pounds salmon (wild-caught, if possible), 4 to 6 ounces per person
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Lemon wedges for serving (optional)

Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  1. Place salmon on a sheet tray. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with lemon slices.

  2. Roast until salmon is a bit brown on the edges but still a bit soft in the middle, about 15 minutes. You can use a thermometer and take the fish out of the oven when the internal temperature is 140°F. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

  3. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Veggie Stir-Fry With Super 6 Sauce

. Working Mother

Serves 4-6

Photo: Jennifer Davick

When I first met my husband, he could do a few meals: takeout, tacos and basic stir-fry. I mean basic. He has upped his game since then in many ways. One of them is mastering the Super 6 Sauce. And as much as I love to cook, I really love it when someone else makes dinner!


For the Super 6 Sauce: - 2 Tbsp minced ginger, divided
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic, divided
- 1 bunch scallions, light green and white parts, sliced
- ½ cup of soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp mirin or rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1 heaping teaspoon Sriracha, plus more to taste

Directions 1. Whisk 1 tablespoon of ginger, 1 tablespoon of garlic and half the scallions with all of the soy sauce, mirin or rice wine vinegar, and Sriracha. Taste and adjust seasoning.

  1. Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large sauté pan or wok. When very hot, add zucchini, carrot, onion and remaining ginger, garlic and scallions.

  2. Cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are a bit soft but crispy on the inside, 3 to 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of Super 6 Sauce and stir until heated through for 1 minute.

  3. Serve over rice. Serve remaining sauce at the table for those who want more.

Reprinted with permission from The New Family Table: Cooking More, Eating Together & Staying (Relatively) Sane by Chef Julia Nordgren, M.D., Story Farm, 2019

Written by Julia Nordgren M.D. for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to