Looking for solutions to the dinner time dilemma?

Packed with simple solutions, easy-to-follow advice and expert tips, The Feel-Good Family Food Plan does the thinking for you, so you get delicious home-cooked food on the table, even on the most hectic of work and school days.

Coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries

Coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries. Picture: Alan Benson

Coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries. Picture: Alan Benson

Serve the fish with the fries and a lovely big salad of mixed greens and other vegies dressed with a salad dressing.

Ingredients

800g sweet potatoes, scrubbed, skin on

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

400g flathead fillets (or any firm white fish)

1 cup fresh wholemeal sourdough breadcrumbs

2 tbsp shredded or desiccated coconut

1/4 cup semolina

1/4 cup plain flour

2 large eggs

salt flakes

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Cut the sweet potatoes into large, long matchsticks and place in a large bowl. Toss with one tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with the paprika and freshly ground black pepper. Spread the fries on the tray in a single layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time, or until the fries are browned and cooked through. Don't worry if the edges of the fries become slightly darkened.

3. While the fries are cooking, cut the flathead fillets into fingers (one fillet will make approximately three fish fingers).

4. Combine the breadcrumbs, coconut and semolina in a shallow bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Put the flour in another shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs in a third shallow bowl.

5. Dust the fish in the flour, then dip into the egg, turning to coat. Finally, toss the fish in the breadcrumbs, covering all sides.

6. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook the fish, turning, until golden and cooked through, about eight to 10 minutes. Don't let the pan get too hot otherwise the crumbs will burn.

7. Remove the fries from the oven and sprinkle with a little salt. Serve immediately with the fish fingers.

Serves 4.

Mediterranean chicken

Mediterranean chicken. Picture: Alan Benson

Mediterranean chicken. Picture: Alan Benson

You can make endless variations of this dish, and it works with lots of different vegies. For a one-pot meal, add some asparagus, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, fennel or spinach to the chicken for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Ingredients

6 kipfler potatoes, skin on, scrubbed

1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 chicken thigh cutlets, bone in and skin removed

1 leek, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

4 dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/2 cup white wine

10g salted baby capers, rinsed

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, halved

2 cups broccoli florets

4 cups shredded silverbeet

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes or until just tender. Drain and allow to cool. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and arrange in a large ovenproof dish.

3. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry the chicken in two batches until brown on both sides. This will take about 10 minutes. Place the browned chicken on top of the potatoes.

4. Add the leek and garlic to the same frying pan and sauté until softened, about two to three minutes. Stir in the dates, olives, wine, capers and parsley, then pour the mixture over the chicken and potatoes. Season with salt and sprinkle with the pepper. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and potatoes and add the lemon halves to the dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Just before serving, microwave, steam or boil the broccoli until tender.

6. Add the silverbeet to the same frying pan, adding more oil if needed, and sauté for two to three minutes or until wilted. Season with a squeeze of lemon from the roasting tin and some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

7. Serve the broccoli and silverbeet alongside the chicken.

Serves 4-6.

Tuna chilli spaghetti

Tuna chilli spaghetti. Picture: Alan Benson

Tuna chilli spaghetti. Picture: Alan Benson

This pasta dish is probably the one that we both make most regularly. It's so quick to throw together, tastes divine and uses lots of pantry essentials, so it's perfect for when you have very little in the fridge. If you don't have fresh spinach, you can always add a few frozen vegies instead. The sauce is also lovely served on top of a roasted potato or sweet potato with a dollop of Greek-style yoghurt and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

400g wholemeal spaghetti

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 mushrooms (about 200g), finely diced

1 red onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 anchovy fillets

425g tin tuna, drained

1 bird's eye chilli, finely chopped (optional)

2 x 400g tins no-added-salt crushed tomatoes

1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

120g baby spinach

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

60g feta cheese or soft goat's cheese, crumbled

Method

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente, then drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, onion, garlic and anchovies until softened. Stir in the tuna and chilli, if using. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Gently simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

3. Stir in the spinach and season with the black pepper.

4. Stir the pasta through the sauce or divide the pasta among serving bowls and top with the sauce.

5. Serve sprinkled with the crumbled feta.

Tips: If your family really don't like wholemeal pasta, look for highfibre white pasta, which is available in most supermarkets. If you're using goat's cheese, you can add it with the spinach and cook, stirring, until it has melted into the sauce.

Serves 4.

Yoghurt labneh cheesecake

Yoghurt labneh cheesecake. Picture: Alan Benson

Yoghurt labneh cheesecake. Picture: Alan Benson

Decorate the cheesecake with seasonal fruit, such as passionfruit pulp, sliced mango, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sliced figs or citrus segments.

Ingredients

Base:

1 cup raw hazelnuts

2/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup shredded coconut

25g sunflower seeds

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp tahini

60g honey

Filling:

10g sachet gelatine

2 tbsp boiling water

250g light cream cheese, softened

250g labneh

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Topping:

seasonal fresh fruit

mint leaves

Method

1. Line the base of a 22cm round spring-form cake tin with baking paper.

2. To make the base, chop the hazelnuts, rolled oats, coconut, sunflower seeds and lemon zest in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse sand. With the motor running, slowly pour in the lemon juice, tahini and honey and process until the mixture comes together.

3. Tip the nut mixture into the lined tin and press the mixture evenly over the base. Chill for 30 minutes.

4. To make the filling, combine the gelatine and boiling water in a small bowl. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

5. Combine the softened cream cheese, labneh, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste in the cleaned food processor bowl. Process until combined.

6. Strain the gelatine to ensure there are no lumps, then add it to the cream cheese mixture and process until smooth.

The Feel-Good Family Food Plan: Everything you need to feed your family well, every day, by Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark. Murdoch Books. $35.

The Feel-Good Family Food Plan: Everything you need to feed your family well, every day, by Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark. Murdoch Books. $35.

7. Pour the filling over the base and smooth the surface. Gently tap the tin on the bench to release any air pockets. Place in the fridge to set for two hours or overnight.

8. Just before serving, carefully release the cheesecake from the tin and transfer it to a plate. Decorate the top with the fruit and mint leaves.

Tip: To make labneh, put 300g Greek-style yoghurt in a sieve lined with muslin or a clean tea towel and place over a deep bowl. Gather the edges of cloth together and secure with an elastic band, then strain the yoghurt overnight in the fridge. Discard the liquid and open the cloth to reveal the labneh.

Serves 12.

The Feel-Good Family Food Plan: Everything you need to feed your family well, every day, by Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark. Murdoch Books. $35.

This story Feel good family recipes first appeared on The Canberra Times.