A week or so ago, I received an email from a blog reader that included a request for a blog post with healthy (and easy!) recipes to make to deliver to friends and family members when they are going through a hard time.
“First of all, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers have been
with you and your family as your hearts and minds heal.
Unfortunately, I have a few friends who are dealing with tough times
right now and I want to make/deliver some meals to them to ease their
daily struggles. I wondered if putting together a recipe roundup post
for healthy/easy foods to deliver to friends and family in need might
be something you’d be interested in writing. I feel like everything I
see when I Google search for foods to deliver are suuuuuper indulgent
(hey, love those once in a while!) and heavy.”
Katy’s email got me excited and since getting excited about writing a blog post isn’t something that’s happening consistently right now, I am happy to have something to focus on that feels positive.
I always joke that food is my love language and I find myself turning to food as a way to help when someone I know is going through a hard time or a big life transition (moving, the birth of a new baby, etc.). I think that when someone we know is hurting or in need of extra support it’s easy to feel completely helpless and somehow making a delicious dinner or assembling a healthy breakfast for them makes us feeling like we’re doing something, even if we wish we could do more.
I have noticed when I try my best to make a healthy (but still delicious!) meal for someone, they seem to appreciate the gesture even more, especially if they regularly try to eat nutritiously in their house. When life gets stressful, turning to indulgent food and takeout is so easy and having a healthy homemade meal delivered to your door can feel like a big sigh of relief when you’ve been living off of pizza and subs and to-go food for days.
Below you will find a roundup of some healthy-yet-tasty recipes I’ve made in the past for our family and also recipes I’ve made for our family and friends when they’ve been going through a hard time. They’re recipes that are comforting and flavorful but nutritious at the same time. I hope a dish listed below pops out at you the next time you’re looking to make something tasty for someone who could use a little extra love.
Healthy Meals to Make for Others
- Rainbow Pad Thai (from Pinch of Yum)
Pinch of Yum’s recipes are becoming a staple in our house. They often call for clean, simple ingredients but the flavors Lindsay puts together are anything but boring. This Pad Thai incorporates brown rice noodles, tons of vegetables and a tangy sauce that completely makes the dish. It’s healthier than Thai takeout, which, if you’re anything like me, is one of your strongest cravings when you’re stressed out. Make this dish… for a friend, a family member and yourself.
- Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake (from Two Peas and Their Pod)
I made this casserole for a neighbor a while back when she and her family were going through a hard time and she absolutely raved about this dish! I thought making a recipe I had never personally tried was a little risky, but I completely trust Two Peas and a Pod’s recipes and one of my girlfriends also recommended it, so I gave it a shot. When my neighbor gave it rave reviews after I delivered it to her, I made it for our family to enjoy a couple of weeks ago as well. It was wonderful and filling and didn’t sit heavy in my stomach the way many casseroles seem to do. (Quick tip: I added ground turkey to the version I made for our family and we loved it.)
- Paleo Spaghetti Pie (from PaleOMG)
I first discovered this recipe when a friend (oh hey, Brittany!) brought it to me after Chase was born. I think I’ve mentioned this recipe on the blog at least a dozen times by now because it’s a family favorite in our house. It’s also quickly become a go-to meal for me to make to deliver to friends after they have a baby because it’s such a satisfying dish that tastes indulgent but is filled with nutritious foods I craved but didn’t have the energy to prepare after Chase was born. (I actually JUST made this recipe yesterday to bring to my friend Carrie and her family to enjoy since they welcomed a baby boy into their family last Tuesday.) Quick tip: Use HOT Italian sausage when you make this dish for added flavor.
- Black Bean and Brown Rice Salad (with Grilled Chicken or Shrimp)
If you are looking for a vegetarian-friendly dish to bring to a friend or family member, this salad is bursting with color, texture, flavor, healthy veggies and whole grains. It comes together in a flash and can easily be prepped ahead of time. If you want to add a little more protein to the dish, I love topping it with grilled chicken or shrimp. It’s also a recipe that tastes great as leftovers which I know I appreciate when I receive a meal from someone – it’s like two meals in one!
Another great cold salad option for vegetarian friends is my Cold Quinoa Salad. Such a tasty one!
- Zucchini Lasagna (from SkinnyTaste)
Gina’s recipes are always a slam-dunk and this dish is no different. Perfectly cheesy but still loaded with vegetables, it’s a savory dinner recipe we love in our house. I’ve made it for my family when they were in town visiting and everyone loved it and didn’t miss the pasta at all. Bringing this to a friend with a simple side salad = Instant hit!
- Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping (from Peanut Butter Runner)
This recipe is time consuming but it is absolutely worth the extra effort. It was the first recipe I made after our second miscarriage that actually included vegetables. (I was – and still kind of am – all about simple carbs for a while there.) It takes some time to make, but the end result is the most comforting and hearty dish that I couldn’t get enough of as I inhaled spoonful after spoonful. I highly recommend making this dish for someone who could use a little extra love.
This recipe is one of my all-time favorite recipes that I’ve ever shared on PBF. It’s full of flavor and packed with good-for-you ingredients. I love making this one for friends during the colder months when nothing sounds more appealing than a big bowl of flavorful soup. It’s chunkier than traditional soup and the broth will make you thankful that the recipe yields plenty for leftovers the next day.
- Shrimp Fried Quinoa (from Eating Bird Food)
Fried rice lovers will enjoy this healthy twist on fried rice. Brittany’s shrimp fried quinoa is an EASY recipe to make and loaded with veggies and protein. We love it this faux-fried rice with a side of fresh fruit salad. (It’s also delicious with shredded chicken thighs!)
More Delicious Dishes to Make
Here are a few more healthy breakfast and not-as-healthy-but-super-delicious dessert recipes to make for someone who could use a little extra love:
- Paleo Blender Muffins (Freezer friendly!)
- Peanut Butter Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal
- No Bake Nut Butter Balls (Great for snacking, too!)
- Hemp Seed Granola
- Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins (A toddler favorite!)
- No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
- Easy Deep Dish Quiche