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Enough with the boring and repetitive weeknight dinners already

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. She holds a masters degree in public health from the University of Michigan.

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again

For most of us, breakfast and lunch are simple — we have our go-tos, and they work. Dinner, on the other hand is often a little more challenging with regards to planning and preparing. Whether you are new to cooking or you have a family to prepare dinner and meals for, creativity is the name of the game. With so many delicious sauces, store-bought, prepared and good-for-you choices, adding variety to your weeknights is easier than ever. I'm sharing some healthy and delicious recipes that feature meal ideas from different cultures that can help improve your palate. If you make enough, you can enjoy the leftovers the next day!

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1. It's all in the sauce

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: The Roasted Root

Indian cuisine is one of my favorite foods to enjoy and treat guests to. If you are in the mood for tikka masala, you can certainly prepare it at home. I love this recipe for Chicken Mushroom Tikka Masala from The Roasted Root that uses Saffron Road Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce. In a little over 30 minutes, you can prepare a hearty, warm and delicious meal that easily transforms ordinary ingredients like chicken, mushrooms and rice into an extraordinary meal.

2. Good for your heart and taste buds

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: Waitrose

This recipe for Turkish Grilled Salmon with Chopped Salad is chock-full of healthy ingredients and bursting with flavor! The red peppers and pomegranate bump up the antioxidants and also add a pop of color. I also love the dressing, which is actually a spiced yogurt. The superstar, however, is the salmon! We always hear about healthy fats that can be found in salmon. Both EPA and DHA Omega-3s are important nutrients that support our heart health and may help maintain healthy blood pressure and healthy triglyceride levels as part of a healthy lifestyle. They also play a role in eye and brain development. I know I am getting a bit preachy here, but it is worth noting that more than 75 percent of American diets are deficient in Omega-3s. While you can always take a supplement, I recommend two servings of Omega-3-rich fish per week, so get cooking!

3. Burger fusion

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: My Modern Cookery

I don't know about you, but I love burgers — cheeseburgers to be specific. Always with a toasted bun and always with a green (spinach, preferably). This recipe for Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Burger from My Modern Cookery is literally a fusion of an Italian meatball with the mozzarella, but served on a bun, burger style. You can always upgrade your burger with a whole-wheat bun or with alternate dips, spreads or toppings, like hummus and avocado for healthy fats. But at the core is the beef. I always speak to my clients and readers about the quality of the ingredients they use when cooking. When it comes to beef, Paige of My Modern Cookery recommends a lean beef. She uses Laura's Lean Beef in this recipe as well as others on her blog. I agree, as I need a little fat to keep it juicy, but not too much so that I can feel good about eating it without worrying about saturated fat and cholesterol. You want all the flavor without all the fat.

More: Pair these ingredients to get the most nutrition out of your food

4. Ricotta for your pasta

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: Lucy and Lentils

I always like incorporating new vegetables into pasta dishes, and that is just what you will find in this delicious recipe for Creamy Spaghetti With Sugar Snap Peas & Ricotta from Lucy and Lentils. Loaded with greens like sugar snap peas, broccoli and spinach, this dish is full of fiber, which will keep you full longer. The sauce is made from ricotta cheese and pesto, which lends itself to a creamy base you expect from other white sauces, but with an added boost of protein from the ricotta.

5. Color and cauliflower

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: Panaceas Pantry

When I came across this recipe for Roasted Spiced Cauliflower Salad with Black Rice, Strawberries, Pomegranate, Fresh Herbs and Pistachio Dukkah by Panaceas Pantry, I just knew that it was going to be a winner. With antioxidants galore from the pomegranate seeds and the strawberries, this salad also invites a bit of savory to go alongside the sweet. The roasted and spiced cauliflower adds a new texture alongside the black rice. This salad is perfect for a picnic or for a simple lunch or dinner.

6. Beans for your burgers

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: Cans get you cooking

Beans are a big part of my diet as I aim to eat one vegetarian meal each day. While I would love to soak beans in my kitchen, it really isn't practical for me as convenience is king. Growing up, my parents made falafel, which has remained a staple in my diet. Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are a heart-healthy vegetarian source of protein that is also high in fiber and selenium.

I love this recipe for Falafel Burgers, and using canned garbanzo beans means less prep, making homemade falafel easy! With the addition of spinach for an added boost of zinc, fiber and folate, this burger is sure to satisfy your entire family! Use tzatziki as a spread to mix things up. You can also go "bun-less" if you are paying attention to your carbohydrate intake.

7. Stuffed peppers make a perfect dish

7 spiced up dinner ideas to make you excited about cooking again
Image: The Art Of Simplified Living

This recipe for Spiced Beef and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Lime Yogurt Sauce from The Art of Simplified Living is so full of flavor you will want to make extras for the next day! Stuffed Peppers are a great way to incorporate veggies into your meal without a lot of prep work. You can also use any ground meat like chicken or turkey for this dish. The yogurt sauce, which is made of three simple ingredients (lime juice, Greek yogurt and cilantro), completes the meal, adding a creamy and cooling effect to the warm and spicy stuffed peppers.

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