Sticking to a diet shouldn’t be difficult, and it certainly doesn’t mean you need to feel hungry or deprived. Prevention notes that one of the secrets to successfully losing weight lies with your daily calorie allowance. Determining your daily calorie budget helps you control your weight while ensuring your body is getting enough food each day. There are a number of calorie calculators available to help you figure out your daily caloric intake, including this one via Mayo Clinic. Once you know your daily allowance, you can begin to plan your meals for the week, making sure that each will help you stay within your recommended calorie range.
For those who regularly rely on fast food and delivery for their midday meal, lunch can be a diet disaster, but it doesn’t have to be. With the proper ingredients and a little planning, you can enjoy low-calorie lunches that are filling and delicious. To help you stick to your healthy-eating plan, we’ve compiled four recipes that have fewer than 300 calories. Both your tastebuds and waistline will love these dishes!
1. Easy Southwestern Veggie Wraps
Low in calories but big in flavor, Taste of Home’s southwestern veggie wraps are perfect for your midday meal. Chock-full of healthy and hearty ingredients, including black beans, tomatoes, rice, corn, jalapeño, and spices, this vegetarian dish will leave you feeling full and energized. Don’t worry, meat lovers — you can easily adapt this recipe to suit your tastes. Simply add slices of chicken breast to your wrap. It yields 6 servings; each contains 295 calories, 4 grams of fat, 7 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein.
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
- ⅓ cup fat-free sour cream
- ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 romaine leaves
- 6 whole-wheat tortillas, at room temperature
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, and seasonings. Gently stir into tomato mixture. Place romaine on tortillas; top with filling. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Cut each in half.
2. Vegetable Lover’s Chicken Soup
Eating Well’s recipe proves that comfort food can be healthy. Chicken, zucchini, shallot, tomatoes, spinach, pasta, and spices combine to create vegetable lover’s chicken soup, a delicious lunchtime dish. For an easy, make-ahead meal, prepare the soup in advance; it can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. The recipe yields 2 servings, with each containing 261 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 31 grams of protein.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 small zucchini, finely diced
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons orzo, or other tiny pasta, such as farfelline
- 1½ cups packed baby spinach
Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add zucchini, shallot, Italian seasoning, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth, wine, and orzo; increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8 minutes, or according to package directions. Stir in spinach, the cooked chicken, and any accumulated juices from the chicken; cook, stirring, until the chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.
3. Fresh Lemon Greek Salad
Prevention presents an authentic and filling Greek salad that is unbelievably low in calories. In addition, a yogurt-based dressing will ensure you get a healthy dose of probiotics, which are good-for-you bacteria that boost your immune system. With 1 serving containing 50 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, you can definitely help yourself to second and thirds!
- 3 cups torn romaine lettuce
- 1 cup torn escarole or curly endive
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions
- ¼ cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Ground black pepper
Directions: Combine the lettuce, escarole or endive, onions, radishes, and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Combine the lemon juice, oil, yogurt, honey, and oregano in a jar; shake to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad; toss well.
4. Soba Noodle Salad with Seared Tuna
Soba noodles, which can be found in the ethnic food section of your supermarket, combine with tuna, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, peppers, onion, spices, and sauces in Cooking Light’s salad. The recipe yields 6 servings; each has 256 calories, 6.3 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, and 2.9 grams of fiber.
- 6 ounces uncooked soba
- Cooking spray
- 1 (1-pound) sushi-grade tuna steak
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup finely chopped English cucumber
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- ½ cup julienne-cut radishes
- ⅓ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- ¼ cup finely chopped green onions
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1½ teaspoons dark sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Directions: Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold water. Drain; set aside.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of tuna with ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place tuna in pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a platter; cool slightly. Cut tuna into 6 equal pieces.
Combine noodles, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, cucumber, and remaining ingredients except sesame seeds in a large bowl; toss well to combine. Arrange 1 cup noodle mixture onto each of 6 plates. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and 1 tuna piece.