Low Calorie, Time Saving Ideas for Delicious, Healthy Meals
Cooking and eating healthy for weight loss is easier and less time consuming than one might think. In general, recipes that are low in calories and still delicious require minimum time and effort, not to mention that you can prepare them in bulk, and pack some up to take to the office for lunchtime (which saves money, too!).
Think of it like this… fewer calories are achieved by fewer ingredients, so the prep time and cooking time is bound to be shorter than any other regular meal. So, for those of you that use your “lack of time” as an excuse to not get rid of those extra holiday pounds, these recipe tips are for you!
Starting off, I’ll give you a list of my favorite ingredients for low calorie recipes. Let’s begin with the vegetables: broccoli, spinach, arugula, tomatoes, onion, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms (any you like best!), celery, squash, potato, green beans, and corn. To this list, of course, you can add any of your favorite veggie staples. All are super low calorie, boost your metabolism (promoting weight loss), hydrate and help remove toxins from your body.
Then for proteins, I tend to stick to chicken breast and eggs (whites with the occasional yolk), but like to add in some lean cuts of red meat every once in a while, like tenderloin. I also buy cooked ham, which is generally low calorie (watch the brand) to add to my eggs in the morning and make it a very filling breakfast! Another good option is nuts, like walnuts or almonds.
Now for the herbs and other low calorie, weight loss boosting, flavor adding ingredients, I always go with cilantro, garlic (and lots of it, its “natures antibiotic” and very good for you), chives, salt, fresh black pepper, lemon, and crushed red pepper. Cayenne is also a good option, but only if you like spicy food.
Now, the following information is very important. The one and only cooking oil I use is extra virgin olive oil (healthy healthy healthy!), and no more than a tablespoon per dish (not so low calorie!). Usually I find that people use too much oil to prevent things from burning or sticking to the pan, or to not have things dry out while cooking, but my secret ingredient to keep the dish as low calorie and healthy as possible is… WATER! Just add water when you would usually just dump more oil in there, and voila! You’ll save yourself about 400 calories per dish, and no, you will not lose any of the flavors. If anything, the food will be even tastier, because it has been cooked in its natural juices, brought out by the evaporating water versus just being smothered by the abundance of oil in the pan.
Another good thing to add to your regime would be fruits, which help keep you hydrated (very important key point to weight loss!) and make great desserts. My favorites are strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, green apple, pear, banana, grapefruit, Clementine orange (or pretty much any citrus), and melon (again, any!).
With all these ingredients, you can use your imagination to make a vast array of healthy and low calorie dishes that would satisfy anyone’s palate, all achieved in less than 20 minutes. Here are some suggestions:
For breakfast: 3 eggs (2 whites only, 1 whole), ham, tangerine = 161 calories (www.calorieking.com).
Scramble with a bit of salt, pepper, and 1 slice of ham, either cut up into pieces tossed into the scramble, or on the side. Tangerine or mandarin orange for dessert (I find that after the protein, the citrus cleanses my palate, even gives me a little mood boost and helps keep me satisfied until lunchtime).
For lunch: chicken breast sautéed with chopped garlic and side of broccoli = 225 calories.
I first chop the garlic, and rub it onto the chicken with a teaspoon of oil, salt, pepper, then throw it onto the skillet high heat for 6 minutes each side, or until cooked, adding water whenever it starts to brown or dry out too much (a little browning is good for flavor, so add water when it’s on the verge of burning only!) for the chicken to absorb it along with all the flavor!… for the veggies, boil the broccoli for 4 minutes, then sauté it for a minute or two along with some salt, pepper, and garlic… spice to taste…MMMMM. Prepare about 4 breasts to keep in some Tupperware along with some veggies or side salad to take to work and heat up for lunch.
Dinner: Arugula/Spinach salad with tomato, red onion, walnuts. = 200 calories.
2-3 cups greens, ½ cup any tomatoes, red onion to taste, and a handful of walnuts. Dress as you like, but watch out! Many dressings are heavy on the calories; nowadays there are excellent low-fat versions of the classics that taste very good… try Newman’s Own brand.
If you eat dinner at an early time, you can add half a chicken breast to this salad, making it a bit heavier. However, if you work until late (6pm or later) stick to the greens and nuts only, it’s easier on your digestive system and allows for a deeper sleep.
There are many ways to concoct a large variety of quick and easy low calorie dishes with the above ingredients to promote a healthy weight loss standard, and rest assured everything will taste delicious. Just make sure you stick to the golden rule… add water, not oil! And, of course, keep active, and no cheating! That cookie just isn’t worth it, your health is more important!