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Think about it: That tablespoon of maple syrup in your salad dressing, the honey in your Asian-inspired stir-fry sauce, the generous drizzle of ketchup on your burger. Despite many people's best efforts, that sugar still manages to creep into so many healthy dinner dishes. But meals can be just as tasty and easy to make without the slightest hint of added sweetener. We've rounded up 25 added-sugar-free dinners proving just that.
1. Healthy Orange Peel ChickenShare on Pinterest
In a welcome contrast to the honey-soaked restaurant version, this dish uses the actual peel and fresh juice of the orange for its fruity flavor and sweetness. It's also all done in one pan, so it's really only marginally harder than ordering in.
2. Creamy Buffalo Chicken PastaShare on Pinterest
Instead of sugary ranch dressing for the “creamy” portion of this pasta, this recipe's secret weapon is blended cashews, which make the dish incredibly rich in a much healthier way. If you use the coconut oil option instead of ghee, the dish also becomes entirely dairy-free.
3. Yogurt Chicken CurryShare on Pinterest
Along with tang, plain yogurt adds some mild sweetness to this otherwise spicy curry. It's so much better for you than the butter chicken you'd find in a traditional Indian restaurant, but just as tasty, especially paired with naan or rice.
4. Taco Stuffed Sweet PotatoShare on Pinterest
Get your taco the gluten-free way by stuffing your turkey mixture into a sweet potato. You get an extra serving of fiber and a touch of natural sweetness; plus, it's a lot more fun to eat this way.
5. Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Coconut StewShare on Pinterest
There's a lot that's sweet about this recipe, but none of it has anything to do with sugar. It's all from the sweet potatoes, the creamy coconut milk, and the freshly squeezed orange juice. Clean eating really doesn't have to be hard or bland.
6. Easy 30-Minute Turkey ChiliShare on Pinterest
You'll notice that the teaspoon of sugar in this chili is entirely optional-and it's for good reason, since you won't miss it at all if you omit it. With sweet bell peppers, mild turkey, cumin, and chili powder to spice things up, there's already plenty of flavor going on.
7. Weeknight Sesame Steak Salad
A good steak salad shouldn't just be a meal you order at a restaurant. It's just as easy to re-create at home. As a bonus, you control everything that goes on to this plate, from the quality of the meat to the homemade dressing to the fun add-ins such as avocado and peanuts.
8. Peanut Broccoli and Pork Stir-FryShare on Pinterest
Asian-inspired food is delicious, but unfortunately, tends to use alarming amounts of added sugar, such as honey or sweetened sauces. This one gets its not-too-sweet flavor from a blend of rice vinegar and peanut powder (use peanut butter as an alternative)-it's so good and so easy, you may want to bottle some of it for future stir-fries and salads.
9. One-Pot Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup
Even canned soup can come loaded with sweeteners and additives. Ditch the store-bought stuff and whip up your own take on the classic beef and macaroni soup with a recipe that comes together in fewer than 30 minutes and uses all real food, including whole-wheat pasta.
10. Grandma's One-Pan Hamburger HelperShare on Pinterest
Packaged Hamburger Helper may save you a few minutes in the kitchen, but it isn't doing a whole lot for your health with ingredients such as corn syrup, sugar, and MSG. This stovetop version packs in lean ground beef, whole-grain macaroni, and plenty of actual tomato sauce, and is hardly time-consuming to put together.
11. Spring Pea RisottoShare on Pinterest
Who needs sugar when you have rich, creamy carbs that involve bacon? Not only is this recipe the ultimate savory comfort food, it also comes together in just 35 minutes-pretty much record timing for a risotto.
12. Yellow Rice Pork Chop BakeShare on Pinterest
This foolproof rice recipe requires no stovetop stirring-the oven-baked method gets it just right. Plus the combination of saffron, paprika, and garlic powder will have your kitchen smelling heavenly.
13. 20-Minute Baked Pesto SalmonShare on Pinterest
With an avocado-based pesto slathered over salmon, this recipe is all about the “s” word-that is, superfoods, not sugar. Pair the fish with asparagus for a filling-not to mention, incredibly good-looking-plate.
14. Avocado Tuna CakesShare on Pinterest
Get your protein and healthy fats in these neat little patties. Held together with egg and breadcrumbs then baked, they're tasty and versatile. Serve them on a salad or with roasted veggies.
15. Pineapple Chipotle Salmon TostadasShare on Pinterest
Fruit is a fantastic way to give a dish some all-natural sweetness, and a little goes a long way. These tostadas, piled high with spiced salmon and cooled off with a pineapple salsa, are a perfect example.
16. Cajun Shrimp and RiceShare on Pinterest
No room for sugar in this spicy rice dish; Cajun seasonings, a squirt of lemon, and protein-packed shrimp do more than enough to make it tasty without the need for sweeteners, all-natural or otherwise.
17. Shrimp, Orzo, Spinach, and Feta CasseroleShare on Pinterest
Next time anyone declares that seafood and cheese don't mix, plate them up a big ol' portion of this. The salty feta and shrimp go so perfectly with the garlicky pasta and sauce, you'll no doubt be serving seconds.
18. Panfried Halibut With Grapefruit and Mango SalsaShare on Pinterest
This dish packs in so many different flavors, you won't even feel like you're eating “light.” Simply seasoned halibut is pan-seared until flaky and topped with an herbed and slightly spicy fruit salsa. It's refreshing and satisfying all at once.
19. Easy Tilapia PomodoroShare on Pinterest
Crusted in bread crumbs and Parmesan, and lightly browned-not fried-in a pan, this tilapia dish looks fancy, but requires just six ingredients. The easy tomato sauce makes for a tangy complement to the mild fish.
20. Garlic Asparagus Artichoke PastaShare on Pinterest
While there's no sugar in this recipe, it does use funky store-bought cubes of garlic, herbs, and ginger. If you can't find them, just use regular garlic cloves and spices. This super-simple pasta will be just as delicious either way.
21. Pad Thai Zucchini Noodle Quinoa SaladShare on Pinterest
Sugar is almost always included in an authentic pad Thai. This recipe departs from tradition, going for a loosely inspired version that not only skips sugar, but also uses zucchini “noodles” and adds quinoa for extra protein.
22. Quinoa Fried RiceShare on Pinterest
Everyone needs a fried rice recipe in their arsenal, but give yours a superfood upgrade by using quinoa as a base instead. The fluffy kernels are chewy enough to hold up to the veggies and do a great job of absorbing the soy and hot sauce (this blogger uses Sriacha, but go completely sugar-free by using Frank's Red Hot or Cholula).
23. Vegetable Samosa BowlShare on Pinterest
Who doesn't love going to an Indian restaurant and starting off with a plate of crispy, deep-fried samosas? While that's all well and good once in a while, try a healthier version at home. The veggie filling is piled on top of rice instead of wrapped in dough, and a spicy, cilantro sauce replaces the sugary tamarind one on the outside.
24. Easy Tempeh FajitasShare on Pinterest
Like tofu, tempeh soaks up whatever flavors you put on it. Here, it's marinating in lime juice, garlic, and classic Mexican spices, then quickly sautéed with veggies for a fantastic weeknight fajita dinner.
25. Lentil Sloppy JoesShare on Pinterest
Using lentils instead of meat for sloppy joes is a common vegetarian fix, but lots of recipes use brown sugar to sweeten the tomato sauce. This one nixes the sweetness, letting the tomato sauce and spices speak for themselves.
Want More? Low-Sugar Granola Recipes for Healthier Breakfasts