15 Easy & Healthy Dinner Recipes (High On Taste, Low On Calories)
One of the biggest problems I faced when I started living alone was ‘WHAT TO EAT FOR DINNER?’. After a long day at the office and a million other tasks to do, I had zero motivation to think about what to cook. I couldn’t believe how much I’d been taking coming home to a mom-cooked meal for granted.
More often than not, I took the lazy way out and resignedly punched in the number of the trusty pizza delivery.
This seemed like the perfect solution until I started seeing all that pizza on my hips. A few early morning struggles with my jeans (I gave up!) and some “well-intended” you-look-healthy from people later, I knew I had to fix this.
Doing some online research I discovered a lot of quick-fixes that would actually go a long way in helping me lose some weight without major alterations to my lifestyle.
The most effective one was called ‘Intermittent fasting’ which basically means that there should be a gap of 14 hours between the last meal of your day and the first meal of the next day.
I also discovered that the ideal time to eat dinner was between 6-6: 30 pm.
That seemed simple enough. So I decided to give it a shot.
One week later, I felt physically lighter and healthier than I had in years.
Eating dinner early can actually aid weight loss. Research shows that our body’s ability to use and store sugar constantly fluctuates throughout the day. This basically means that our body stores more fat from the same food if it is eaten at the wrong time.
During the day, our metabolism is racing because of all the activities we do. On the other hand, our metabolism is sluggish at night and converts food to fat. You see why eating a large dinner late at night can be a huge overload on our digestive system?!
Besides weight loss, it also has a lot of other benefits. Here are some advantages:
#1. No Overexertion of the Digestive System
A heavy dinner will make your digestive system work overtime. It will have to keep working to digest the food when you’re trying to sleep. This means that there is little need for the energy being produced and the food gets converted to fat instead. Eating an early dinner can help you burn the calories from the meal on the day itself and so, less fat gets stored.
#2. You will Sleep Better
A heavy late night meal gets converted to more indigestion than energy. Eating a light meal early in the evening releases soothing hormones that help you sleep better. Whole grain bread and vegetables are a great option.
#3. Blood Sugar Control
Eating a light dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime if not earlier helps your body manage glucose levels well. This means the blood sugar levels do not fluctuate late at night.
After eating early, I was already beginning to see dramatic changes in my body. But I knew this was only half the battle. Chinese takeout is still harsh, even when eaten at 6 pm.
So once again, I went to God Google to find easy low-calorie dinner recipes that would help me lose weight without compromising on the taste. I also didn’t want anything that would be too complicated to cook because that would need too much effort on my part. I knew I’d be lazy and fall back into my old patterns.
Here are some of my Favourite Diet Dinner Recipes:
#1. Khakra Canapés
A tasty and guilt-free treat. It’s also super easy to make. Take crisp khakras and top them with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. Add a dash of homemade chutney to give it a zing. It is delicious and very diet friendly.
#2. Baked Kebabs
Every human on a diet knows the feeling of passing by a kebab cart and questioning if they need a healthy body at all. The idea is to find a balance so you don't fall off the wagon. Make your favourite kebabs at home so you can control the portions of oil and fats you’re adding. Bake them for an even healthier alternative. No fasting, no feasting. It’s a simple mantra.
#3. Jalapeno watermelon and feta salad
A desi take on the watermelon and feta salad, the spice added by the jalapeño helps to give it the spice that an Indian palate craves. Combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a big salad bowl. Whisk until they have all emulsified. Add the arugula leaves, watermelon, tomatoes, onion, feta, mint, and jalapeño. Serve immediately or it can become soggy.
#4. Beetroot Soup
Once or twice every week, I try and do a soup dinner for a detox. My go to is a lovely beetroot soup that's tasty and chock full of vitamins and minerals. Adding some bottle gourd gives it a nice thick texture and I like to add tomatoes for more flavour. It’s super healthy, has very few calories and when consumed hot, it is perfect for winter nights.
(Did you know about these, Dinner Habits And Their Effect On Human Health)
#5. Hot and Sour Soup
Another super soup I swear by is the quintessential desi Chinese hot and sour soup. Add vegetables like carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts for a tasty bowl of goodness. I prefer to go easy on the soy sauce and vinegar
#6. Hummus wraps
Possibly my favourite dish on this list. I’m such a sucker for some good hummus! A wholesome and healthy dish with a nice break from the routine. I make whole wheat rotis, spread some homemade chickpea hummus on it and top it with vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum and onions to make a wrap. An added treat is to include avocados for some healthy fats. What’s not to love?
#7. Rocket Salad
To get some much-needed fibres in my meals, I like to eat leafy vegetables based salad at least once a week. A quick and easy salad is to toss crisp rocket leaves, paneer chunks, capsicum, and tomatoes. You can even add fruits such as pomegranate and apples. You can drizzle it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Or for a more desi twist, make a dressing from olive oil, lemon juice, and chaat masala!
#8. Brown rice pulao
For when rice cravings hit, I opt for a simple brown rice pulao. You can just add veggies such as corn, capsicum, tomatoes, and onions to steamed brown rice to make a super tasty meal. If you prefer something spicier, you can add a dash of chilly sauce or sriracha as well!
#9. Raw Papaya Salad
Raw papaya is a storehouse of enzymes that boost digestion. It also has many essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium and Vitamins A, C and E. Make this sweet and sour Thai salad by adding garlic, tomatoes, and chillies to raw papaya, Make a dressing from sugar dissolved in lemon. It’s delicious and nutritious!
#10. Whole Wheat Pasta
Pasta is my favourite food and that’s not something I can completely give up on even when I’m trying to cut down on calories. So I simply fix it by using whole wheat pasta. I toss it in olive oil with pine nuts, garlic, and veggies to make a delicious and filling meal. For a protein boost, you can also add chicken or Paneer to this low-cal recipe.
#11. Avocado quinoa bowl
Quinoa is the new superfood everyone is raving about and for good reason. To make an avocado quinoa bowl, you can mix 1 cup cooked quinoa with diced peppers, cilantro, avocado, paneer or tofu chunks and 2 tsp of fresh lime juice. It’s quick to make and so so tasty.
For Gujaratis (and everyone else too!) Dhoklas are the MVP of the diet food world. It is a light and filling meal that is only made of goodness and nothing else. They’re steamed which makes them very healthy and easy to make. On particularly lazy days, I even make them in the microwave. Pro-tip: Skip the tadka on top to cut out unnecessary calories.
#13. Zucchini Pasta
Many advocates of gluten-free food opt for a zucchini based pasta and I wanted to find out what the buzz was all about. After I made my first serving, there has been no looking back. You can simply shred or ribbon zucchini and toss it in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, cherry tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a little feta cheese. Season it with black pepper and mixed Italian herbs,2 medium zucchini, ribboned
This French recipe has a whole movie named after it so you know you have to give it a shot.
In a large skillet cook onions and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally. Then stir in zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes and continue to cook the mixture over the moderate heat. Season it with oregano, thyme, coriander, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Finally, stir in the basil and combine the mixture well. The best part about ratatouille is that it can be made up to 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving. So your lunch and dinner are sorted in one go.
#15. Cheesy broccoli soup
Broccoli is making its way into Indian kitchens and you should definitely include it in your healthy eating plans. To make cheesy broccoli soup, steam broccoli, and parsnips. Then puree them with chicken or vegetable stock and stir in some low-fat cheese. Top with some pine nuts and lemon juice and serve hot.
With these tasty and quick recipes, a diet dinner doesn’t have to be a pain ever again!
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