5 Mouth-Watering Meals That Are Surprisingly Low-Calorie : Food should taste good. We eat for nourishment, of course, and the nutritive value of what we consume is extremely important, but shouldn’t we also enjoy our meals? When you’re trying to lose weight, eating celery sticks and plain grilled chicken can get old really quickly. However, being on a low-calorie diet doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to bland foods.
The right combination of colorful vegetables, protein-rich meats, healthy oils, and a variety of spices and herbs can vastly improve a potentially boring meal without increasing the calorie content. If you long to liven up your weekly menu with delicious yet healthy dishes, keep reading. To help put flavor back in your diet, here is a list of five mouth-watering meals that are surprisingly low-calorie.
1. Chicken Marsala (279 calories)
Add some rich flavor to your chicken with mushrooms, Marsala wine, and a perfect blend of seasonings. Chicken Marsala, a dish originating from Sicily that has become quite popular in the U.S., contains a mere 279 calories per serving. And there is a reason chicken shows up in a lot of healthy recipes—this filling yet lean meat contains many important nutrients.
The Marsala reduction sauce concentrates the flavors of garlic, mushrooms, olive oil, and Marsala wine to make the lightly fried chicken irresistibly delicious. The multi-step recipe for this dish may look daunting, but it only takes 40 minutes to prepare. For a more well-rounded meal, serve with a generous helping of fresh greens or a scoop of roasted carrots and toasted almonds.
2. Risotto (462–498 calories)
Risotto is a remarkably versatile dish, and although commonly served as a side, it can become a tasty, filling entrée with the right additions. Try mixing in chicken and kale to increase the protein content and add magnesium, calcium, antioxidants, and many vitamins. If seafood is more your style, add some shrimp and orange for a completely different flavor. Or, for a delicious vegan option, stir in sautéed eggplant and chopped tomatoes. Feel free to experiment with your favorite vegetables and meat or other protein sources. The possibilities are endless!
3. Minestrone (319 calories)
If you like having a bowl of hot soup on a cold evening, try your hand at making minestrone. Chock-full of veggies and protein-rich beans and pork, this richly-flavored soup contains a lot of nutrients but very few calories—only 319 per serving. Minestrone is actually meant to be a cleansing soup eaten after a heavy meal, but it can be eaten for a light lunch or paired with salad and whole grain bread for a hearty supper.
Since there is no definitive recipe for authentic minestrone, it can be made with a variety of different vegetables, beans, and grains. Feel free to substitute the ingredients in the recipe you use with whatever you have on hand and to suit your own tastes.
4. Chicken Cacciatore (484 calories)
Like chicken Marsala, chicken cacciatore involves a mouth-watering wine-based sauce, but in this recipe, the chicken is cooked in the sauce for more moist, flavorful meat. To reduce the calorie count, make sure to pour off the extra grease after frying the chicken and before mixing in the sauce ingredients. If you’re concerned about losing some of the flavor by pouring out the fat, add a sprig of thyme a dash of nutmeg to enhance the taste.
This traditional Tuscan meal is full of vegetables, but serving it with a small salad will further increase its nutritive value. It is also excellent eaten alongside polenta or mashed potatoes.
5. Pasta aru Tonnu (377 calories)
Pasta lovers, this one’s for you! Pasta aru tonnu, or pasta with tuna, combines the ultimate comfort food—pasta!—with omega-3-rich tuna for a delicious meal containing only 377 calories. With a short ingredients list and 35-minute cook time, this meal is simple to throw together and therefore excellent for supper on a busy weeknight. The addition of anchovies, garlic, and hot pepper paste adds a little extra zing to this savory dish. Remember to include a side of vegetables for a more well-rounded meal.
As you can see from the list above, maintaining a low-calorie diet does not mean that the food you eat has to be bland and boring. Mix up your usual, tasteless menu by replacing grilled chicken with chicken cacciatore, plain rice with an exciting risotto recipe, and watery vegetable soup with flavorful minestrone. Experiment with different vegetables, grains, meats, and spices, and remember to eat a flavorful salad or other vegetable side with each meal to add to the nutrients you consume. Nourish your body and your taste buds!
Melissa is a food blogger and freelance writer at recipe-barn.com. Passionate about cooking, creating and sharing unique recipes or just simply cooking good food, Melissa can’t spend to much time on anything else. She is also devoting her time in developing her skills in food photography.
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