Whether you count calories or not, a calorie deficit is required for weight loss.
Using low-calorie cooking spray instead of oil is a good way to save around 100 calories per portion.
Here are 7 of my favorite low-calorie dinners that helped me lose 35 pounds and keep it off.
1. Feta frittata
I love frittatas and always mix up the fillings based on what I have. A go-to combination is cooked sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, zucchini, red onion, and feta, and sometimes I add egg whites to my whole eggs for a protein boost.
All you have to do is cook your fillings in a large frying pan on a medium heat (or add pre-cooked ingredients to heat up). Whisk your eggs with seasoning then pour into the pan and top with feta. Cook for about five minutes on the stove before transferring to the oven for about 15 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine said: "Frittatas are a great choice for a satiating but low- calorie dinner (depending what you put in it of course). They're perfect for using up leftover veg and they're high in protein too, which is key to prioritize when losing weight as it will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Bulking out this recipe with lots of non-starchy vegetables and a handful of potatoes will add extra fiber too as well as 1-2 of your 5-a-day."
2. Creamy red pepper chicken pasta
I love this dish and base it on a recipe by Ellena Hoad, but add broccoli for extra nutrients and tastiness. Red pepper, tomatoes, and low fat cream cheese are blended into a creamy but low-calorie sauce.
Ludlam-Raine said: "This recipe sounds delicious and satisfying. Using light cream cheese or reduced fat hard cheese is a great way to add flavor, as well as protein and calcium, but keep the calories low if this is something you're keeping mindful of (as fat contains of twice the number of calories per gram than carbs or protein). Adding both whole and blended vegetables within the sauce is a great way to pack in a variety of vitamins and minerals. For an additional boost of fiber you could try this using wholewheat pasta."
3. Baked potato with baked beans and cheese
Not everyone realizes that baked potatoes are relatively low-calorie and I love topping mine with the classic British combination of baked beans and cheddar cheese for an easy, vegetarian, low-budget, and comforting dinner, often with greens on the side.
Ludlam-Raine said: "Baked potatoes are such a staple midweek meal. Both the beans and cheese contain a source of protein, but to help keep the calories, fats, and sugars down, opt for low fat cheese and/or keep to a small matchbox-sized portion, and choose no added sugar and salt beans if you can. To add volume to your plate, you could add a side salad."
Shakushuka is a North African and Middle Eastern dish made up of eggs baked in a skillet with peppers, tomatoes, onion, and spices. It's commonly eaten at brunch but I love it for dinner too, especially with a sprinkle of feta on top. Serve with toasted sourdough or warm pita bread to soak up all the sauce, just keep an eye on your portion size if you're watching your calories. I like this recipe.
Ludlam-Raine said: "This is a really budget-friendly, low-calorie recipe which can be made with both tinned and/or fresh or frozen vegetables. Dishes with a tomato base — such as shakshuka or home-made curry — tend to be lower in calories in comparison to more creamy dishes or those made with coconut milk. Similar to the frittata, you can add any leftover vegetables."
5. Turkey bolognese
I make this like any classic bolognese, but lower the calories and up the protein by using turkey breast mince and adding peas alongside the chopped tomatoes, carrot, tomato puree, onion, and garlic. You can't beat it with pasta and a little sprinkle of cheese, but again, keep an eye on portion sizes. I sometimes serve mine with greens or salad.
Ludlam-Raine said: "Turkey breast mince is a low-calorie and lower saturated fat swap for beef, pork mince, or even turkey thigh mince. Making your own bolognese sauce can be a great way to save on any additional sugars that may be added to jarred sauces. Bulking out the sauce with onions and other vegetables is a great way to add extra volume without the calories."
6. Chicken stir-fry
Stir-fries are nutritious, fast, easy, and tasty. I sometimes speed up the process even more by buying pre-prepared mixes of stir-fry vegetables.
All you need to do is heat some oil (or light cooking spray) in a hot wok, stir-fry your protein of choice for a few minutes, add chopped veggies and cook for a few minutes more, add ready-made noodles or rice, then stir in your sauce. Sometimes I add edamame or lentil noodles for an extra protein boost.
Ludlam-Raine said: "Stir-fries are a great way to pack a good volume of vegetables into your meal if you struggle to meet your five-a-day. If you wanted to boost the protein content here, you could even add an egg and scramble in with the vegetables for an egg-fried stir-fry."
7. One-pan Mexican beef
This recipe by sports nutritionist Scott Baptie is delicious and really comforting thanks to the cheesy topping. Keep an eye on how much cheese you're adding to keep the calories down.
Ludlam-Raine said: "I absolutely love all-in-one recipes! Try to opt for wholegrain rice for a source of fiber and lean beef to keep mindful of saturated fats. Beef is however a great source of B12, iron, and protein to name a few. To make this meal go further you could even add a tin of lentils for extra fiber — 3 tbsp is one of your five-a-day."
Read the original article on Insider