The Ultimate Healthy Dinner Inspiration: What 7 Philly Fitness Pros Eat for Dinner

Seven Philly fitness pros showed us — literally, with photos! — what they chow down on come dinnertime.

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If you eat scrambled eggs and toast for dinner more than you’d be willing to publicly admit — because it’s easy or you’re lazy (no judgment here, I’m totally speaking from experience), or you just don’t know what they heck else to make — no more, my friend! We’ve got some serious dinner-plate inspiration for you, courtesy of seven (incredibly jacked) Philly fitness pros. Check out what these ladies and gents whip up for dinner below, then take some of their healthy-eating advice to the kitchen! 

Ali Cook Jackson, owner, Never Give Up Training

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“All of my meals use the Paleo Diet as a guideline (specifically, no grains or dairy). I follow strict Paleo if I am training for my Ironman Triathlon races, but otherwise all my meals will follow a clean diet with high protein and vegetables, no grains or dairy, with maybe a glass of red wine if I worked hard enough to deserve it.

“It’s tricky to keep meals interesting with limitations, but even trickier with so little time! Therefore, I force myself to mix things up, keep my meals interesting and fun, yet nutritious, so I never have to worry about getting bored or tired of eating boring ‘chicken and veggies’. I love experimenting with recipes and inventing new ones, giving them to all my personal training and nutrition clients to try out and see what they think!

“Here’s one of my favorite dinners: This is an organic veggie burger on a sweet potato ‘bun’ with tomato, onion, avocado and a little bit of organic horseradish mustard for some bite. The veggie burger is stuck together with egg rather than bread crumbs or any grain —simple to make with chopped veggies and the egg adds some protein! The sweet potato ‘bun’ (my favorite part) is sliced into about one to 1.5-inch circles, put in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly soft to the touch. So good! You’ll never even know the bread is missing.

“I pair my protein with greens, greens and more greens! I made a kale and cranberry salad with a touch of coconut oil and vinegar as a dressing, with simple Brussels sprouts, which are easy and quick to steam or stick in a frying pan with some salt and pepper. When I get home from a 15-hour day of training clients, teaching classes and working out, this is a simple meal that is delicious, nutritious, and interesting to look forward to! It is also a great one to prep ahead of time for those who want dinner on the table upon arrival. Enjoy!”

Juliet Burgh, vice president and nutrition director, Unite Fitness

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“I always have a protein with a healthy starch, lots of veggies and healthy fat. This is a piece of salmon I baked and added a kale pesto that I quickly made in the blender (kale, basil, olive oil, garlic, walnuts). I served it over spaghetti squash.

“I eat dinner around 8 p.m. after a long day of coaching and running Unite Fitness. A lot of times, I prepare certain parts of the meal that take longer than 15 minutes ahead of time, like, sometimes in the morning or the night before when I am watching TV, I’ll bake the fish or the spaghetti squash. That way when I get home it’s almost all done. This meal has a balance of all your macronutrients and it has tons of vitamins and minerals to keep me energized and feeling good!”

Perry O’Hearn, owner, Philly Phitness

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“Due to a lifestyle change, I devote time to actually sit down and enjoy every meal. I believe food should be just that: food. It should be tasty, healthy, and you should actually get to enjoy the quantity without having to lick your plate for crumbs — unless it is just THAT good.

“Along with adopting a better work-life balance, I have also changed my diet. All of my dinners now consist of fish as the main protein source. Below we have a 10-ounce seared tuna steak with a half a cup of brown rice, and a garlic-stir fry medley of asparagus, red, yellow and green peppers, carrots, broccoli, and onions. I love this meal because it tastes phenomenal, has a great balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, and it actually fills me up (which is not easy). I often substitute the tuna with either salmon or swordfish and always like to keep a variety of vegetables on the plate.”

Brian Maher, owner, Philly Personal Training

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“For my dinner, I had seasoned pork with asparagus and a potato. This wasn’t a very typical dinner for me because I don’t eat pork that often and, usually, if I’m having a potato, I make it a sweet potato. However, this meal is my typical lean-protein-with-a-vegetable type of meal.

“I like to switch up my proteins and vegetables because different variations give you different benefits. By switching up vegetables, you’ll get a better balance of vitamins and minerals than if you were to stick to just one or two veggies. I feel that keeping my meals very basic like this increases my chances of actually cooking for myself. I don’t like using a ton of ingredients, so if I see a recipe with more than four ingredients, I just won’t make it.”

Jayel Lewis, owner, JL Fitness

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“Considering I usually eat dinner around 9:30 pm, there’s no such thing as a normal dinner for me. I often find myself grabbing something on my way home from training. I’ve mastered the manipulation of take-out menus from some of Philly’s hot spots. One of my go-tos is the Mediterranean salad from Pietro’s on Walnut Street. I swap the shrimp for grilled chicken and ask for the dressing on the side. This salad is no joke: colorful, full of protein, enormous, and amazingly tasty! Bon appetit!”

Gina Mancuso, founder and personal trainer, CoreFitness 

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“I hate to cook. I would much rather eat right out of the peanut butter jar (with a side of M&Ms) than spend any amount of time preparing dinner. There, I said it: Cooking is just not my thing. Fortunately, my fitness-professional brain can take over once in a while and I manage to make a healthy dinner that tastes good, too.

“Tonight for dinner I made two great dishes created by Tara Mataraza Desmond from her cookbooks, Almost Meatless and Choosing Sides. I had the Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing from Almost Meatless and Browned Brussels Sprouts with Maple Butter from choosing sides. Both easy enough that even someone like me can’t mess up dinner. And besides, who can go wrong with maple brown butter?

“If I’m thinking ahead, I’ll make a lot so I can have it for lunch (or breakfast) the next day. I eat a mostly grain-free, high-protein, nutrient-dense diet and this meal really fits that description. FYI: Tara is local (she lives in the Fairmount neighborhood in Philadelphia), and her cookbooks and her blog (www.crumbsonmykeyboard.com) are witty and top-notch!”

Shoshana Katz, general manager and instructor, Body Cycle Studio

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“Above is grass-fed filet made in a cast iron skillet (if you don’t have one you are seriously missing out), with sautéed onions and mushrooms and steamed broccoli. We usually try to keep it fast and simple since I work until around 8 p.m. and when I get home I am ravenous. I’m super lucky to have a boyfriend who starts the cooking before I even get home, so we’re usually eating around 8:15 to 8:30.”

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