2013’s low calorie and healthy meals

Luke and I exercise at the Y twice a week and try to get out at least once on the weekends for a walk, hike, snowshoeing, . . .something. But we also count calories, this way we don’t feel like we are truly on a diet but we portion what we eat and how much of it we have. For this reason and for allergy health reasons (see barley-free living ) many of the meals that we plan are gluten-free, high protein, and/or low calorie.

As  we start this new year and try to get back to those oh so necessary routines, diets, and exercise I thought I’d share some of last year’s low calorie and healthy eating highlights. So here are some of the top hits from this past year that you might find worth trying out for your new (returning to old) diet and routine.

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1.  A Vegetarian Mediterranean meal. This is my most popular food post ever. It is an easy dump recipe into the crockpot that I adapted from a recipe I got while in Egypt. The base of this recipe is what I call a lentil stew, although it has no vegetables or grains in it, the lentils ,if cooked over time, create a consistency of stew more so than a soup. It’s great for lunches or dinner with a salad or pita bread an hummus.

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2. Stuffed Bell Peppers: This is my second most popular dinner item. These peppers are nice and basic with plenty of room for variation. They requires a little prep. but nothing complicated. Once the peppers are stuffed you can stick them it the oven on low heat and leave them. We often make this on an exercise night where we can put the oven on a low setting, go exercise, and when we are back dinner is ready with minimal mess to clean up afterward. It’s a great all-in-one meal  packed with protein and veggie goodness.

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3.Gluten-Free Low-Cal Marsala. This is a great delicious meal that takes an Italian classic and cuts out calories by using two key substitutes. First I use steamed zucchini instead of pasta. For most Italian meals zucchini pairs perfectly with the meat dish; plus you get a filling serving of veggies for the night. Second I use Parmesan as a substitute for bread crumbs. Parmesan if dry enough if seasoned like Italian bread crumbs it works perfectly for coating chicken and it’s lower in calories.

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4.Gluten Free Low Cal Meatloaf:  I am not a huge fan of traditional meatloaf in the sense of dense bread and meat slices with a sweet sauce on top. This light loaf is extremely low calorie and tastes amazing. Ingredients including rice, and zucchini, with a zesty tomato topping give the loaf a great texture and taste that make it a true all-in-one meal. For both this recipe and the stuffed peppers I make ground beef go further by adding minced mushrooms. Mushrooms are a great away to cut calories plus they have a similar texture and consistency as ground beef when cooked.

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5.BBQ Teriyaki Bowl: Another great easy low-cal recipe. I actually got the teriyaki marinade recipe from a good friend and old tutoree from Japan. The longer the chicken marinates the better the flavor/texture when grilled. For a lower calorie meal you can use greek yogurt instead of mayo as the thickening/cream base of the marinade. Just know the mayo the fat layer in the mayo keeps the chicken very moist. Recently I have added ground ginger to the marinade as well. Once again this recipe is gluten free! No flour in this marinade!

So how are you doing trying to get back into the normal routines?

What are your favorite healthy homemade meals?

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