A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Clean eating: Whole foods dinner and eating out tips

Whole Foods Approach to eating 4-28 inside

It’s helpful to have vegetables and whole grains on hand to have with  your main dish.

Editor’s note: This post is one in a series with information to help you get on the road to clean eating with a whole foods diet. Here we feature dinner recipes. 

At dinnertime, do you find yourself throwing something together last minute or making a trek to your local restaurant?

You can do either and still maintain a whole foods diet.

“One of the keys is to have whole food options on hand at home,” said Shelly Wildenberg, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “When eating out, you can make good choices at restaurants most of the time.”

Eating out twice a week is about 100 meals per year. That could add up to a lot of missed opportunities for vegetables and healthy food unless you prioritize it.

Whole foods dinner options at home

“Some people keep a running list of dinner ideas for each night of the week. Having a plan helps them stay prepared so they’re not grabbing less healthy options,” Wildenberg said.

Find what works for you. Bigger families might try batch cooking or crockpot meals.

“There are so many recipes on Pinterest or online where you basically put your entire meal into a gallon bag and freeze it for a later date,” she said. “Then you let the ingredients cook in the crockpot all day for dinner.”

It’s helpful to have vegetables and whole grains on hand to have with your main dish. Brussels sprouts and broccoli are easy vegetables to steam or bake, and quinoa and brown rice are simple whole grain options.

Find whole foods choices when eating out

Healthy eating requires moderation all around. This includes going out-to-eat.

“One of the biggest problems with restaurant choices is calories. They rack up faster than people anticipate,” Wildenberg said.

These calories often come from oversized portions and highly processed food options, such as fried foods.

You can help control calories by making smart choices like lean protein and whole food sides.

“Many restaurants have mixed vegetables, fruits or salads they’ll substitute for free over fries or chips,” she said.

Try this recipe

These salmon sweet potato patties are completed with mashed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

“If you’ve never had canned salmon before, you might want to try boneless, skinless salmon first. It can look scary, but it sure tastes good,” Wildenberg said.

Use your microwave for quick sweet potato and Brussels sprouts prep.

Salmon Sweet Potato Patties with sides: Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Whole Foods Approach to eating 4-28 feature

These salmon sweet potato patties are completed with mashed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serving size: 1 patty, 6 Brussels sprouts and ½ cup sweet potatoes

Recipes make 6 servings


Salmon Sweet Potato Patties

  • 14 ounces canned wild salmon (Remove skin, bones. Drain liquid.)
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, mashed
  • 1/3 cup almond flour (Alternatives: flaxseed meal, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped (Alternatives: bell peppers, carrots, onions)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Note: Seasonings are optional. If you don’t have them, go without or substitute with your own.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup water

Note: A medium sweet potato is approximately 1 pound, equaling 1 cup cooked and mashed.

Brussels Sprouts:

  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Seasonings as desired (Pepper, garlic powder and salt)

Note: 1 pound of Brussels sprouts is about 20 sprouts. If you purchase them frozen in microwaveable steam bags, no prep is required and they need only a few minutes in the microwave.


The sweet potatoes take longest to cook. Start with sweet potatoes and put those in the oven first. Salmon patties and Brussels sprouts can go in together shortly after.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 425F.

Skin potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes or less. Place in an oven-safe baking dish with 1/3 cup water. Cover with lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. You can easily pierce sweet potatoes with a fork when they are done.

Drain off excess water and mash with a fork.

Salmon Sweet Potato Patties

Once your sweet potatoes are in the oven, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Mash salmon with fork as needed.

Drop 1/3-cup measures onto baking sheet to form six medium-sized cakes. Lightly press down the center of each cake to flatten.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, flip cakes and bake for another 10 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Wash, trim and remove loose or discolored leaves. Cut large Brussels sprouts in half.

In a bowl, toss sprouts with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and season as desired with pepper, garlic powder and salt.

Put Brussels sprouts in the oven with your salmon patties.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned and tender.

Nutrition information

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Each serving, 1/2 cup, has approximately 90 calories; 2 g protein; 0 g fat; 20 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 7 g sugar; and 36 mg sodium.

Salmon Sweet Potato Patties

Nutrition with almond flour: Each serving, 1 patty, has approximately 160 calories; 16 g protein; 8 g fat; 6 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; and 250 mg sodium (440 mg with added salt above). This version is gluten-free.

Source: Adapted from The Little Honey Bee

Brussels Sprouts

Each serving, 6 Brussels sprouts, has approximately 120 calories (60 calories without oil); 6 g protein; 5 g fat; 16 g carbohydrates (10 g net carbohydrates); 6 g fiber; 4 g sugar; and 40 mg sodium.

Print dinner recipes

Learn more from Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Learn more about Nutrition Services Schedule an appointment

More clean eating tips and recipes

How to begin a whole foods diet

Make a whole foods breakfast

Turn whole foods into fast meals

  1. May 4, 2017
    • May 4, 2017

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