- Diet & Weight Loss
Low Calorie Dinner Ideas - Easy, Healthy Low Fat Dinner Recipes
This article is the third in my series on low calorie and healthy eating for every meal of the day. Selecting delicious and easy low calorie meals can sometimes prove difficult, but I've compiled a list of some of my favorite low calorie dinner ideas as well as some low calorie dinner recipes for you and the whole family.
Eating dinner can sometimes be a stressful task. You have to first find something that sounds good, prepare it and then sit down to eat it. So, it's no wonder why the average American family spends 45% of money spent on food eating out (USDA). It's also important to recognize the fact that the average American eats 40% of their calories at dinnertime, when eating out. The study that I found this data from is from 1996, so you can imagine how the percentage of dollars and calories have increased in the last 13 years!
So, by eating a low calorie lifestyle and eating dinner at home more often, you can save lots of money as well as lots of calories.
Restaurant Calorie Quiz - You'll be shocked!
How many calories does Ruby Tuesday's Club Salad have?
a.) 250 b.) 550
c.) 850 d.) 1000
How many calories is Olive Garden's Garlic-Herb Chicken con Broccoli?
a.) 460 b.) 760
c.) 960 d.) 1260
How many calories in T.G.I. Friday's Bruschetta Chicken Pasta?
a.) 672 b.) 1172
c.) 1472 d.) 872
Answers: 1.)c 2.)c 3.) b
Dining Out vs. Dining In
Take the quiz to the left (don't be fooled by the healthy sounding names!)
It is possible to make some healthy eating decisions when eating out, however in certain restaurants (which also happen to be the ones most frequented) there are tons of hidden calories. A meal may sound healthy and low calorie just by reading it's name but it's important to remember:
If you didn't cook it, you don't know what's in it and this means there are probably lots of hidden calories.
Restaurants know that we're getting more and more health concious. Some will offer healthy eating menus and reduced calories, but at the end of the day they realize that many people won't stop to do research to see just how many calories are really in a "Fresco Pizza" or in a pasta dish that features veggies (and lots of hidden calories).
You can find almost any nutritional information for most franchised restaurants online by looking on their website. However, many restaurants make it difficult to find this info. I spent 5 minutes looking on T.G.I. Friday's website for the calories in their Bruschetta Chicken. Couldn't find any! I had to google the meal name, instead and found the info on a third party website.
Low Calorie Dinner Ideas
Instead of eating one dish, like I typically do for lunch, I like to combine dishes to create a larger, more satisfying meal. (Otherwise, I'm prone to snacking right up until bedtime!)
When choosing a dinner recipe, or combination of dinner items to eat, it's important to choose foods that wil equal out to: one protein serving, two whole-food carbohydrate servings (no white rice or white pasta), two vegetable servings (not including a salad).
Just like I advised in my other articles for low calorie breakfast ideas and low calorie lunch ideas, make a list of your favorite foods and their serving sizes. Then, effortlessly combine them together for a healthy, nutritious dinner.
Below are some of my favorite recipes and side dishes for low calorie dinners!
Hot & Spicy Seasoning Ideas
Healthy Low Calorie Jambalaya Recipe
Jambalaya, a traditional Cajun Louisiana Creole dish is one of my favorite dishes to make. I can't say that my recipe is authentic, but I've developed one that closely represents the taste of a traditional Jambalaya that I always look forward to when my travels take me to the south. Most jambalaya call for white rice and this recipe calls for brown rice. The beauty of this is that you can throw things in here and there and not have to worry about measurements! i.e., I never would've thought to add zucchini, but I looked through the fridge and saw that it needed to be used up. Turns out, zucchini in this dish is fantastic. You probably have most of these ingredients on hand or can make your own substitutions! Another thing about this dish that I love is how spicy it is (you can make it hot or mild, just add more or less of the recommended spices). I find that spicy meals make me feel full while eating, not to mention feel fuller longer.
Yields: 2 Dinner and 1 Lunch Serving
- 1 tbsp of Olive Oil
- 2 Cups of Cooked Brown Rice, cooked in low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ cup of diced red onion
- ¼ cup of diced zucchini
- ¼ cup of diced celery
- ¼ cup diced peppers (I like banana peppers, but red or green are more traditional)
- ½-1 cup of low-sodium V8 juice
- 1 tbsp of minced garlic
- 1 cup of cooked de-veined shrimp
- ½ cup of cook lean ham or turkey sausage
- Tabasco sauce or your favorite hot sauce to taste
- Creole spice blend to taste
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, put in 1/4 cup of red onion and the minced garlic and sauté. Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté until slightly brown.
- Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of V8 juice in with the vegetables. Add creole sauce and Tabasco sauce to taste.
- Now add your cooked brown rice, shrimp, ham, or other cooked meat.
- At this point, if you'd prefer a more 'soupy' consistency, add more V8 juice. Taste to see if you should add an any additional spices or hot sauce.
- Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes.
Gordon Ramsey: How to Cook Crispy Salmon
Crispy Salmon with Tangy Potatoes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
This is one of my absolute favor dinners to cook. It was inspired by a video that I found on YouTube of Gordon Ramsey cooking crispy salmon. (Definitely make sure to watch that video before you start this recipe...his advice for cooking salmon is incredible and very very very easy!) The potatoes in this recipe are inspired by his crab mashed potatoes, except they do not contain crab and are made with red skin and purple potatoes that have their skins on for added nutrients and fiber.
- 1 portion of fresh salmon with the skin on (this is where all the nutrients are...it's so good when you cook it like the way in the YouTube video)
- 1 or two red skin pototatoes
- 1 purple potato
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- red wine vinegar
- sun-dried tomatoes
- herbed salt
- marjoram (optional)
Other Healthy Eating Articles and Recipes
I hope you enjoy some of these recipes! If you're look for over low calorie meal ideas, check out some of my other healthy eating articles below:
- Low Calorie Breakfast Ideas
- Low Calorie Lunch Ideas
- NEW! - Low Calorie Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe in 20 Minutes
- No Time To Cook?!? Top 5 Frozen Healthy Dinner Reviews
- Low Fat Baked Nachos Recipe