Finding meals to cook that are low in calories and still nutritious, filling and delicious is a dilemma that has likely plagued many of us. However, finding recipes that check all of these boxes doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Try these four healthy and tasty dishes that are also low in calories and high in either protein or fiber.
1. Lemon Garlic Tilapia
Tilapia is one of the best low-calorie, bang-for-your-buck foods out there. With just 90 calories per four ounce serving, Tilapia has a whopping 21 grams of protein and is loaded with potassium, iron and vitamin C. In addition to being low in calories, it has just 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat per serving. Tilapia is also a versatile fish to cook, as its firm, flakey texture holds up well on the grill, stove-top and in the oven.
Try the recipe: Lemon Garlic Tilapia from Spark People.
2. Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa
There’s a reason quinoa has had superfood status in recent years. The whole grain is full of fiber (5 grams per cup), which helps you stay full for longer. One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 220 calories, 8 grams of protein and an array of beneficial minerals and vitamins like folate and magnesium. Shrimp is low-calorie, protein-rich and packed with selenium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. Plus, a perk to cooking with shrimp and quinoa is that both foods cook relatively quickly, so this is a great recipe for those in a hurry who want to eat healthy without a hassle.
Try the recipe: Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa from Well Plated.
3. Black Bean Quesadilla
Black beans are a powerhouse ingredient for soups, salads, dips and more. At just 113 calories per half cup serving, black beans provide 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. Not only are black beans extremely filling, they’re also cost-efficient. Quesadillas are the perfect go-to meal for groups because they are bursting with flavor, adaptable to all tastes and simple to make.
Try the recipe: Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas from Budget Bytes.
4. Baked Tilapia With Potatoes and Tomatoes
Potatoes get a bad rap, but in reality they can be nutritious and filling. One medium-sized Russet potato has 168 calories, 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and is full of potassium, B6, niacin, iron and calcium. And don’t forget to eat the potato skin, which contains minerals and vitamins in a concentrated dose. It boils down to how they are cooked and which ingredients are added to potato-based dishes. For example, there is a huge nutritional gap between a mashed, oven-baked potato mixed with spices and nonfat Greek yogurt, and an order of oily fast food fries.
Try the recipe: Baked Tilapia with Potatoes and Tomatoes from Food Network Magazine.
In addition to the above foods, some other filling, low-calorie options to load up on include eggs, lentils, nonfat Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, tuna and rolled oats. Use these ingredients to whip up some tasty side dishes, and you guarantee yourself a light, low-calorie dinner that won’t have you reaching for a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips two hours later.
Learn more about calorie intake and good fats with this guide to dietary fats.