So What's for Dinner Tonight?

Jade with vegetablesIt’s almost the end of week three for the rising star interns and I am amazed about how fast these weeks have flown by. Between the farm tours, farmers market visits, seminars, and more we are constantly on the move! By the end of each day I am exhausted and asking myself the same question, “So what’s for dinner tonight?” 

In the past I have always relied on my mother to have a home cooked meal waiting for me after work, but now that I am living on my own I have to rely on myself for food. After coming home from work the last thing I want to be doing is spending a lot of time in the kitchen making dinner, so I tend to resort to the simple yet easy chicken and veggies. The problem is, I get sick and tired of the same old same old food. So one day last week I pulled out the Healthy & Homemade 2nd Edition cookbook that I received during the Rising Star orientation and began to search for new ideas. I was thrilled about how many recipes I came across that were really easy to make and healthy too! A lot of the recipes I found used a variety of produce, which is awesome because especially in the summer, fresh locally grown produce is abundant. The best place to find fresh produce is your local farmers market. In Sioux City, the farmers market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Tyson Events Center Suite Parking lot.
So if you find yourself looking for easy, fast, and healthier recipes or are running out of new ideas for dinner then you’re in luck! Below I have put together one of my favorite meals that I have made so far using recipes from ISU Extension and Outreach's Healthy & Homemade 2nd Edition cookbook. If you’re interested in finding local farmers markets near you in Northwest Iowa, please visit our list of local farmers markets. Happy summer and happy eating!


Main Entree: Supreme Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Serves: 4
Serving size: 1 open-face sandwich   

Supreme Grilled Cheese


  • 1 cup peppers, red, yellow, or green
  • ½ onion
  • 4 slices (about 8 oz) whole wheat bread
  • 2 Tbsp. light mayo or salad dressing
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup rinsed spinach leaves
  • 4 slices (3/4 oz each) mozzarella cheese


  1. Slice peppers and onion thin.
  2. Lay out 4 slices of bread and spread with mayo.
  3. Sprinkle lightly with garlic powder.
  4. Add in layers the spinach leaves, peppers, onions, and a slice of cheese.
  5. Heat a skillet to medium low. Spray non-stick spray. Lay sandwiches in a pan. Cover with plate, lid or aluminum foil.
  6. Heat sandwiches until cheese melts (2-3 minutes) or until the bottom is golden brown.
  7. Serve warm.

Side Dish: Summer Bounty Salad

Serves: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup

Summer Bounty Salad


  • 7 cups cut up vegetables (carrots, zucchini, radishes, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower)                                                       
  • 1 pepper (green, yellow or red), sliced (1-1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tomatoes (red, yellow or mixed)
  • 2/3 cup light or fat free dressing


  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables (cut the carrots, zucchini, radishes, green onions, and pepper in slices, make the broccoli and cauliflower into florets, slice or chop tomatoes).
  2. Combine all vegetables and salad dressing in a bowl, stirring to coat vegetables with dressing. Cover and refrigerate. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Dessert: Quick Fruit Dessert

Serves: 8
Serving Size: ½ cup

  • 8 vanilla wafers
  • 2 cups low fat or non-fat milk
  • 1 box (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup fresh fruit (peaches, nectarines, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, etc.)


  1. Place one vanilla wafer on bottom of a small paper or plastic cup or a small bowl. Do the same for each vanilla wafer.
  2. Pour milk into a bowl, add pudding mix, and prepare pudding according to the directions on the box.
  3. Top each vanilla wafer with ¼ cup vanilla pudding.
  4. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 8 hours.
  5. Top with washed and cut up fresh fruit just before serving.