Whether you count calories or not, a calorie deficit is required for weight loss.
Using low-calorie cooking spray in place of oil is a good way to save about 100 calories per portion.
Here are 7 of my favorite low-calorie dinners that helped me lose and maintain 35 pounds.
1. feta omelette
I love frittatas and always mix up fillings based on what I have on hand. The go-to mix is cooked sweet potatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, red onions, and feta, and I sometimes add egg whites to my whole egg for a protein boost.
All you have to do is cook your fillings in a large skillet over medium heat (or add precooked ingredients to heat). Whisk your eggs with the seasonings, then pour into the skillet, and top with the feta cheese. Cook for five minutes on the stovetop before transferring to the oven for about 15 minutes, until fully cooked through and golden on top.
Dietitian Nicola Ludlam Ryan said: “Fritatas are a great choice for a filling but low-calorie dinner (depending on what you put in them, of course). They’re perfect for using up leftover veggies and they’re high in protein too, which is key to prioritizing when losing weight because it will help you feel fuller for longer. Skip this recipe.” With plenty of non-starchy vegetables and a handful of potatoes it will add extra fiber in addition to 1-2 of your 5 servings a day.”
2. Creamy red pepper chicken pasta
I love this dish and base it on a recipe from Ellena Hoad, but add broccoli for even more nutrients and flavour. Red peppers, tomatoes, and low-fat cheese are mixed in a creamy yet low-calorie sauce.
Ludlam Ryan said: “This recipe sounds delicious and satisfying. Using light cheese or low-fat hard cheese is a great way to add flavor, as well as protein and calcium, but keep the calories low if that’s something to keep in mind (as fat has twice as many calories per gram). Compared to carbs or protein.) Adding whole, blended vegetables into a sauce is a great way to pack a variety of vitamins and minerals. For an extra boost of fiber, you can try this with whole-wheat spaghetti.”
3. Baked potatoes with beans and cheese
Not everyone realizes that baked potatoes are relatively low in calories and I like to top the classic British mix of baked beans and cheddar cheese for an easy, vegan, budget-friendly, and comforting dinner, often with veggies on the side.
Ludlam Ryan said: “Baked potatoes are a midweek staple. Beans and cheese both contain a source of protein, but to help keep calories, fat and sugars low, choose low-fat cheese and/or keep a small matchbox-sized serving, and choose beans without sugar or salt.” Additive if possible. To add volume to your plate, you can add a side salad.”
Shakushuka is a North African and Middle Eastern dish made of eggs baked in a skillet with peppers, tomatoes, onions and spices. It’s usually eaten for breakfast and lunch but I like it for dinner too, especially with feta sprinkled on top. Serve with toasted sourdough or warm pita bread to soak up all the sauce, just watch your portion size if you’re watching your calories. I like this recipe
Ludlam Ryan said: “This is a budget-friendly, low-calorie recipe that can be made with canned and/or fresh or frozen vegetables. Tomato-based dishes — such as shakshuka or homemade curry — tend to be lower in calories in comparison to more hearty dishes or Those made with coconut milk. Similar to a frittata, you can add any leftover vegetables.”
5. Turkey Bolognese
I make this like any classic bolognese, but cut the calories and increase the protein by using ground turkey and adding peas along with diced tomatoes, carrots, tomato puree, onions, and garlic. You can’t beat it with pasta and a sprinkle of cheese, but again, keep an eye on the portion sizes. Sometimes I serve it with vegetables or salad.
Ludlam Ryan said: Ground turkey breast is a low-calorie, low-saturated fat swap for ground beef, ground pork, or even ground turkey thigh. Making your own bolognese sauce can be a great way to save up any extra sugars that might be added to grated sauces. Salsa with onions and other vegetables is a great way to add extra volume without the calories.”
6. Fried chicken
French fries are nutritious, quick, easy and delicious. Sometimes I speed up the process even more by buying pre-made mixes of sautéed vegetables.
All you have to do is heat some oil (or light cooking spray) in a hot skillet, stir-fry your favorite protein for a few minutes, add the chopped veggies and cook for a few more minutes, add the finished pasta or rice and then add the sauce. Sometimes I add edamame or lentil noodles for a protein boost.
Ludlam Ryan said: “French fries are a great way to pack a good amount of veggies into your meal if you struggle to get five a day. If you want to boost the protein content here, you can even add an egg and scramble with egg-fried veggies.”
7. Mexican Beef in One Bowl
Created by sports nutritionist Scott Babett, this recipe is really delicious and comforting thanks to the cheese topping. Watch how much cheese you add to keep the calories low.
Ludlam Ryan said: “I absolutely love all-in-one recipes! Try choosing whole grain rice as a source of fiber and lean beef to remember the saturated fats. However, beef is a great source of B12, iron, and protein to name a few. To make this meal go above and beyond, beef is a great source of B12, iron and protein to name a few. So, you can add a packet of lentils for extra fiber – 3 tablespoons is one of five tablespoons a day.”
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