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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

BBQ Teriyaki Bowl

So summer is coming. One day I am getting sun-burnt on a cold windy day at the park, the next I am turning the heat on staring at the rain outside, and yesterday and today have been humid and in the 90’s! As the weather warms up, the desire to use the oven becomes less. So I thought I’d share an easy oven-less meal with you: BBQ Teriyaki Bowl.


Living in the northwest during college I learned to love teriyaki. Even before then, teriyaki night at my parent’s was one of my favorite meals. Now I’ve been working on my own version. The original recipe for the marinade/teriyaki sauce came from a good friend from Japan whom I tutored in English for two years.  I have been using some version of it since. This recipe will feed two and portions are only suggestions.



1 to 2 cups cut broccoli

1 to 1 1/2 cups uncooked minute brown rice

2 to 3 Tbs soy sauce (I use gluten-free)

3 Tbs white sugar or honey

1/8 to 1/4 cup mayonaise or plain greek yogurt


1.  Wash and prepare the chicken breasts

2. Combine soy sauce, mayonaise (yogurt), and sugar (honey) in a small bowl and whisk together. If you are going to substitute the sugar for honey you may want to taste-test to see if you want it sweeter or not. Different people like their teriyaki sweeter than others.

3. Place chicken breasts in large ziplock bag. Pour the small bowl of teriyaki sauce into the bag. Place chicken in the fridge to marinade for an hour before cooking or even over night.

4. Warm up and stick the chicken on the BBQ. If it is raining/cold out and you prefer to cook indoors, you can also pan fry the chicken in a medium pan on high heat.


5. While the chicken is cooking, steam the broccoli and cook the rice. I use minute rice  because I find it easy.


Layer the bowl rice first,


then broccoli


placing the chicken breast on top.


We will also put some sriracha hot sauce and/or more soy sauce on the table in case we want to add it to the bowl.


Then Enjoy!