10 Quick, Delicious (and Healthy) Dinners
Short on time? Whip up 1 of these super-simple suppers.
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic -- Expert
The best intentions can go by the wayside when you're tired, hungry, and
have precious little time to cook. There's nothing wrong with ordering takeout
or making a quick trip through the drive-thru, but it usually costs more, and
people tend to eat more when meals are prepared away from home.
You can stay ahead of the curve by planning quick, nutritious, and
low-calorie meals in advance. When you take the time to plan out menus and draw
up a grocery list, you can use leftovers creatively, buy only the food you
need, and save time and money.
Meal planning also keeps you from grabbing high-calorie fixes for unexpected
hunger attacks. Stock up on foods like vegetable juices, dill pickles,
low-calorie snacks, veggies, fruits, and light desserts so it's easy to find
healthy options in your kitchen when you need a quick fix.
The real trick to enjoying low-calorie, nutritious meals is watching portion
sizes. Eat large portions of foods like vegetables, beans, and salads, and
smaller portions of lean meats, fish, whole grains, and dairy products to feel
satisfied on fewer calories.
Also watch your liquid calories: Drink sparkling water flavored with citrus,
iced tea (unsweetened or sweetened with artificial sweetener), water with
lemon, low-fat or skim milk and, on occasion, a glass of wine with dinner.
Finish off your dinner with fresh fruit; low-fat sorbet, frozen yogurt or
ice cream; or frozen fruit bars. Or, try adding fruit to low-fat pudding or
sugar-free gelatin, or whip up a fruit smoothie with fruit, low-fat yogurt,
ice, and fruit juice.
Here are 10 quick dinners suitable for the whole family, any of which can be
assembled in less than a half an hour.
- Rotisserie Chicken
Pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken at the supermarket. Add a roasted sweet
potato (you can bake one in the microwave in a few minutes), steamed broccoli
with lemon zest, and a green salad loaded with artichokes, shredded carrots,
and sliced radishes and topped with light dressing.
- Chicken Caesar Salad
Pull off the remaining chicken from last night's dinner, and toss it into a
large bowl of chopped romaine lettuce, chopped apple, celery (or any other
veggies). Lightly dress with grated Parmesan cheese, whole-grain croutons and a
light Caesar dressing. Have a whole-grain roll and a fresh fruit side salad to
round out the meal.
- Grilled Salmon
The American Heart Association recommends two fish meals per week, and nothing
is easier and better received than grilled salmon. Lightly season the salmon
with fresh or dried herbs, salt, and pepper. Toss it on the grill or pop into
the oven for quick cooking, and finish your dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon
and a handful of toasted pecans. Heat a pouch of Uncle Ben's® Ready Brown Rice
in the microwave, then toss a can of drained Mandarin oranges, a package of
broccoli slaw, and toasted sliver almonds with a light, sweet vinaigrette for
simple and satisfying side dishes.
- Filet Mignon
Treat yourself to a 4-ounce filet mignon flavored with a grill rub (such as
McCormick's Grill Mates®) and grill. Bake a small potato in the microwave, and
top with fat-free or light sour cream and chopped scallions or chives. Steam
cauliflower and sauté mushrooms in cooking spray for a healthy side dish combo.
Toss together a spinach salad with sliced strawberries, toasted walnuts, and
light berry vinaigrette to round out this yummy meal.
- Pork Tenderloin Asian-Style
Marinate pork tenderloin the night before or in the morning with a bottled
teriyaki marinade, then grill it when you're ready to eat (if you forget to
marinate, no problem: simply baste the tenderloin with a honey mustard mix
while grilling). Add some pineapple and quartered bell peppers to the grill for
a wonderful complement to the meal. Cook up a box of couscous or any other
quick-cooking whole grain. For an Asian-style veggie, steam green beans and
toss with sesame seeds and a drizzle of bottled ginger dressing.
- Mediterranean Vegetarian Frittata
Preheat your to 350 degrees. Put a combination of two whole eggs plus four egg
whites or 1 cup egg substitute into a bowl, and whisk to blend. In a cast-iron
skillet coated with vegetable oil spray, lightly sauté mushrooms, zucchini, red
pepper, and onions until soft. Add vegetables and 1/2 can drained and rinsed
beans or chickpeas to egg mixture. Pour into the skillet, top with a sprinkle
of low-fat cheese, and bake in oven until set. Round out the meal with crunchy
coleslaw with fat-free dressing, and a whole-wheat sourdough roll.
- Mexican Fajita Salad
Preheat your broiler. Slice lean sirloin into strips, season with chili-style
fajita seasoning, and broil until done to your liking. Mix meat with lettuce,
chopped tomatoes, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, chopped red bell
pepper, chopped red onions, and salsa. Top your salad with a few slices of
avocado and a dollop of fat-free or light sour cream. Serve with a low-fat,
whole-wheat tortilla. Serve with a cup of refreshing gazpacho, made with
low-sodium tomato or vegetable juice mixed with beef broth and chopped fresh
tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and bell peppers, finished off with a
sprinkle of fresh basil and the juice from a lemon and lime.
- Tilapia With Mango Salsa
Grill or bake tilapia or any firm fish on the grill, griddle, or in the oven
until flaky, then top with a purchased or homemade fruit or vegetable salsa.
For a side dish, broil tomato halves topped with breadcrumbs, parsley, a little
cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with a Greek salad made with mixed
greens, cucumbers, chopped red bell pepper and red onion, and fat-free feta
cheese, and topped with light vinaigrette. A few whole-grain bread sticks make
this a colorful and nutritious meal that's worthy of company.
- Pasta Primavera
This is a great way to use up leftovers and stray vegetables in your freezer or
refrigerator. Start with a jar of your favorite tomato sauce and a box of 100%
whole-wheat or whole-wheat blend pasta. Lightly steam a variety of fresh or
frozen vegetables (such as broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and peppers)
until soft. If you like, add cubed or sliced cooked meat, fish, chicken, or
tofu to the veggies. Toss vegetable mixture with cooked pasta and garnish with
Parmesan cheese. Serve with mixed greens topped with sliced pears, chopped
nuts, and light vinaigrette.
- Tuscan Sandwich
Who says you can't have a sandwich for dinner? Pick up a whole-grain baguette
on your way home from work. Then start by slicing an eggplant, brushing the
slices with light balsamic vinaigrette, and grilling on both sides until
tender. Open and drain a jar of roasted red peppers. Slice the baguette and
layer on the eggplant, red peppers, some part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced
tomato, fresh basil, and mixed greens. Drizzle with light balsamic vinaigrette
for a light and delicious sandwich. Serve your sandwich with fruit kabobs made
with pineapple, strawberries, melon, and grapes, plus vegetable crudities (baby
carrots, jicama, and celery) accompanied by fat-free ranch dip.