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There are a number of factors involved in weight loss (and weight maintenance), and calories are one of the most important. Regardless of whether you eat healthy foods or fill up on junk foods, and whether you exercise regularly or have a more sedentary lifestyle, you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight. Eat more calories than your body burns — even if the calories are from healthy foods — and you'll gain weight. Fortunately, you don't have to go crazy counting calories or keeping track of every bite of food you eat to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. There are some easy ways you can trim calories and move toward a healthier body.
Click here to see the Healthy Dinners Under 500 Calories (Slideshow)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that the average American has access to more than 3,400 calories per day. This certainly does not mean that all Americans eat that many calories daily, but when you consider that the average (moderately active) man and woman need about 2,900 and 2,200 calories per day respectively, it’s easy to see why losing weight (or maintaining a healthy body weight) can be a challenge.
The average cheese pizza, for example, has almost 300 calories per slice. If pizza delivery is part of your weekly routine, consider swapping two slices of pizza with a 500-calorie-or-less dinner option; it can save you 100 calories. Trim just 100 calories each day and you’ll lose about 10 pounds over the course of a year.
We have a few lower-calorie recipes to help you get started. They rely on fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains as well as protein-packed meat, beans, and eggs to keep you feeling fuller longer (which can prevent excess calories from late-night snacking) and bold flavors to make these meals delicious and satisfying. So, if you're ready to give up the occasional slice of pizza (and a few extra pounds of body fat), check out these healthy and delicious recipes.
Apricot Chicken Wings and Chicken and Vegetable Pasta Salad
These sweet and spicy chicken wings are just 233 calories per serving. Add a side of flavorful pasta salad for another 208 calories and you’re well on your way to a healthier dinner. Click here to see the chicken wings recipe. Click here to see the pasta salad recipe.
Baked Chicken with Spinach, Pears, and Blue Cheese
If you’re looking for ways to eat more leafy greens, this sweet and salty chicken dish is your new go-to recipe. And, with just a handful of ingredients, this easy-to-make recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights when you’re tempted to order take-out. Click here to see the recipe.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.
12 500-Calorie Meals That'll Fill You Up the Healthy Way
"Good old-fashioned Italian is so flavorful, but it's not always so great for your waistline," says Tyson Foods executive chef Mario Valdovino. "Luckily, between the high-protein chicken and the tomatoes which contain lycopene, you can feel good eating this dish." Read: It is possible for Italian meals to clock in under 500 calories.
8 ounces whole-wheat linguine pasta
12 ounces chicken breast, sliced
3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil, drained
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions drain. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, garlic, and broth and cook about 10 minutes each side (or add prepackaged chicken strips and follow package directions). Meanwhile, place hot pasta, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, basil, and pepper flakes in a pot. Turn heat to low and toss to mix well. Add cheese and toss. Divide pasta among plates and top with chicken.
Nutrition score per serving: 390 calories, 9g fat (4g saturated), 48g carbs, 31g protein, 2g fiber
26 delicious one-pot meals that are the perfect, healthy comfort food
Comfort food doesn't have to equal hefty calories, and a one-pot meal is the perfect healthy dinner idea. Whether it's one-pan sausage casseroles, or one-pot veggie tagines, there are so many things you can make, minus the washing up - and the high calorie count.
Here are 21 of our favourite one-pot recipes, either created by the Good Housekeeping cookery team, or one of our favourite food bloggers. And even better? They're all under 500 calories.
Packed with eggs, beans and tomatoes, this veggie Middle Eastern dish from Lavendar and Lovage is low fat and full of protein.
A classic Italian favourite, this easy recipe is a real crowd-pleaser that you&rsquoll turn to time and time again.
Food blogger With Salt and Wit has packed this meal with crunchy veggie and a tasty peanut sauce.
4. ONE-PAN PORK CHOPS
A simple weeknight variation on the classic roast dinner.
Forget a takeaway, this healthy chow mein from The Recipe Rebel is the perfectly meal for a cosy night in.
No need to boil your pasta first - this recipe is cooked all in one pan, as the starch released when cooking the pasta mixes with the other ingredients to make a velvety sauce.
Gluten-free and vegan, this hearty soup by She Likes Food will definitely fill you up.
Pork on a bed of spicy rice and black eyed peas. A yummy weeknight treat from Mae Bells.
9. COCONUT LAMB CURRY
We&rsquove used lamb neck fillet, a cheap but flavourful cut that benefits from longer cooking, plus coconut yogurt to add texture as well as flavour to this curry recipe.
10. BAKED HADDOCK RISOTTO
Oven-cooking this healthy risotto means there&rsquos no standing and no stirring involved.
11. VEGETABLE TAGINE
Warming, cheap and nutritious, try this easy tagine recipe for your Meat Free Monday meal.
12. SMOKY CHORIZO ONE POT
This one pot meal is full of flavour. Use tinned butterbeans or cannellini beans, if you prefer.
13. ONE-POT SPICY BEEF
An easy all-in-one beef and veg main course that can be served with rice or tortillas.
14. PASTA ONE POT
Packs of ready-made filled pasta turn a simple vegetable soup into a substantial supper.
Buy the best quality sausages for this Mediterranean sausage one-pot dish, so they brown nicely and don&rsquot split and burst.
Packed full of flavour, this vegetarian hotpot is an ideal choice for an autumnal supper.
17. JAMAICAN PRAWN PEPPER POT
Whip up this easy, healthy dinner in just 15 minutes.
18. ZINGY FISH ONE-PAN
This all-in-one meal is assembled in a flash and cooks in no time.
You can still enjoy higher-fat ingredients, like sausages, but make them go further by bulking the dish up with healthier alternatives.
This is a healthy option as cooking chicken in orange juice will not only add a sweet flavour, but also cuts out the need for extra oil.
This healthy, one-pan dinner created by Sweet Peas and Saffron is perfect served with a dollop of yoghurt and a squeeze of lime.
A light, delicious and quick dinner, this couscous creation from food blogger Joanna Cismaru adds pistachios for extra crunch.
Food writer Linda Wagner loves her old-fashioned chicken bake, that promises to be good, clean food.
Garlic olive oil paired with salmon and brussels sprouts is the perfect roasted combination, according to foodie blogger Diethood.
This lean sausage bake by Skinny Taste is a super easy meal that packs in your daily vegetable intake.
This ingredient combination from Sweetpeas and Saffron racks up your healthy nutritional content, and doesn't scrimp on flavour.
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15 Healthy Sheet Pan Dinners Under 500 Calories
I love sheet pan recipes because they're easy to cook and to clean up. They're almost always some combination of meat and veggies (protein, plus fiber and healthy carbs), so they tend to make for inherently balanced meals. Oh, and they're equally easy to make meatless, if that's your jam.
The recipes below are made on a single sheet pan, and they clock in at 500 calories or fewer per serving. To be clear, you don't have to count calories to be healthy, and some people are better off ignoring calories altogether. Also, remember that everybody's daily energy needs are different, depending on all kinds of factors like height, weight, lifestyle, medical history, and more.
Regardless of calories, these 15 recipes are easy and delicious, and they make for super easy cleanup. Next time youɽ rather spend the evening cozied up on the couch while your dinner basically cooks itself, give one of these dinners a try. Feel free to add your favorite side dishes and garnishes, too!
High-Protein 500-Calorie Dinners
Keeping up with healthy eating habits is easy with these satisfying 500-calorie meals.
Keeping up with healthy eating habits is easy with this week of delicious 500-calories dinners. If you&aposre trying to lose weight, or just simply want to eat healthy, these dinners can help you do just that. Each meal comes in right around 500 calories and has at least 20 grams of protein per serving to help you feel full and satisfied throughout the evening. Plus, the meals are balanced to include a healthy protein source, plenty of veggies and complex carbohydrates (like quinoa and chickpeas), so you get the good-for-your nutrients your body needs. Once you get through this week of healthy eating, try thisꀰ-Day 500-Calorie Dinner Challenge.
Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs with Romesco Sauce: Made with roasted peppers, nuts, garlic and olive oil, the Mediterranean romesco sauce in this recipe is a delicious accompaniment to just about everything. Here we use the creamy sauce to add flavor toꃪsy sheet-pan roasted chicken and vegetables. The potatoes, broccoli and chicken thighs all roast together while you make the quick romesco sauce in thisꃺst one-dish 500-calorie meal.
Per serving: 499ꃊlories, 33 grams protein
Om Buddha Bowl: This beautiful vegan grain bowl is packed with healthy ingredients like quinoa, chickpeas, kale and cauliflower-all drizzled with a lemony tahini sauce. Chickpeas and quinoa do double time and stand in as both a healthy source of protein and complex carbohydrates to createਊ satisfying plant-based dinner you&aposll want to make again and again.
Per serving: 500 calories, 20 grams protein
Slow-Cooker Balsamic Short Ribs: This healthy beef short ribs slow-cooker recipe is an easy alternative to traditional oven-cooked recipe-do the prep work the night before, turn the slow cooker on in the morning and by dinnertime, it&aposs done. The beef provides 20 grams of filling protein per serving and to round out the meal, serve with Cauliflower Riceਊnd Glazed Mini Carrots.
Per serving: 519ꃊlories, 24 grams protein
Spring Roll Salad: All the tastes, color and fun of a spring roll without all the work of wrapping it up! This healthy salad recipe is bursting with the colors of rainbow from generous amounts of fresh vegetables, shrimp and whole grains all topped with a peanut dressing for the ultimate satisfying salad.
Per serving: 523 calories, 31 grams protein
Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Bowl: Olives, cucumber, roasted red peppers and spices come together magically in this healthy chicken quinoa bowl recipe. The chicken and quinoa together combine to provide 34 grams of filling protein per serving. Serve with a squeeze of lemon to finish off the dish.
Per serving: 520 calories, 34 grams protein
Roasted Salmon with Smoky Chickpeas & Greens: In this delicious salmon dinner recipe, you&aposll get a healthy dose of protein from both the salmon and chickpeas. Served over saut greens and with a creamy green goddess dressing, this simple dinner packs in a ton of flavor and nutrition for less than 500 calories.
Per serving: 449 calories, 32 grams protein
Steak & Pepper Tartines with Arugula Salad: These open-face, knife-and-fork steak sandwiches are topped with Gruyère cheese to make them reminiscent of a Philly cheesesteak, but without all the extra bread to cut down on calories. Paired with a peppery arugula salad, this healthy dinner is sure to hit the spot.
16 Cheese-Filled Dinners Under 500 Calories
As any cheese lover can probably tell you, it's hard not to go overboard on cheese. Because, if you don't already know, cheese is the best. Creamy, salty, buttery, it's like a warm blanket for your stomach. Parmesan on everything is my idea of perfection and more often than not, you'll find me working on my night cheese like Liz Lemon.
Iɽ eat cheese all day long if it weren't for the fact that it's not exactly the healthiest when eaten in abundance. It's high in saturated fat, which the USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. It's also high in calories—that isn't inherently bad, and you absolutely don't need to count calories to be healthy. In fact, it can be harmful for some and you should talk with your doctor before you make any changes to your diet. But if you're trying to maintain or lose weight, being mindful of portion sizes can be really helpful, especially when it comes to higher-calorie foods like cheese.
All of this to say: Finding recipes that feed your love of cheese it but don't get in the way of your healthy eating goals can sometimes be difficult. Luckily, a handful of food bloggers have developed delicious, satisfying, cheesy recipes that clock in at 500 calories or less. These 15 recipes use everything from feta to Gruyére to make all your ooey gooey dreams come true, without overdoing it.
Something else that's important is to make sure that the foods you eat are high in nutritious value. Nutrients like protein, fiber, and fat can take a while to digest and help you feel satisfied for longer — meaning fewer cravings and lower general hangry-ness. (Here's some more information about how many calories you should be eating, in case you're curious.)
These dinners are all tasty and healthy, and they come with about 500 calories or less. Some may not work with your personal diet (the lower-calorie ones, in particular, may be bad choices for people who only eat three meals a day with no snacks). But you may just find something on this list that you like.
1. Hearty Gazpacho Bowl
Gazpacho, a cold soup, might be the perfect food for those hot, hot, summer days. Traditional gazpacho is a mash-up of fresh, summer veggies like ripe tomatoes, cucumber and peppers, which makes for a light and refreshing dish. We make this a heartier soup by adding chickpeas, corn and avocado to the mix.
Adding these high-fiber foods to this already fiber-filled soup make it a perfect summer recipe if you're trying to lose weight. Why? Well, for starters, we know fiber fills us up and helps keep us full. Eating 30 grams of fiber each day resulted in similar weight loss results as more involved diets requiring multiple dietary changes, according to February 2015 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Get the Hearty Gazpacho Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
Quinoa and Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
You may consider salads more of a side dish than a main course, but this Quinoa and Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette from A Nutritionist Eats has enough flavor and substance to keep you full until your next meal. To make this recipe, prepare a cup of quinoa according to the package directions, then make the vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, honey and shallots. Toss with the quinoa, almonds and arugula and enjoy! This dish keeps really well overnight, so make sure to save any leftovers for the next day’s lunch.
The Skinny Food Co Healthy Recipe Book - 1st Edition
Introducing The Skinny Food Co's first ever recipe book!
We've made it our mission to enable people to enjoy food as it should be enjoyed and to put ‘avoided’ ‘unhealthy’ options firmly back on the menu for as many people as possible. This recipe book is another way in which we deliver on that promise, as every single recipe takes into consideration any potential food allergy you may have and is jammed packed with flavour, easy to make, and contains less than 500 calories.
This is a must-have cookbook, filled with deliciously healthy recipes and perfect for anyone who's wanting to jazz up their meals live a healthier lifestyle. From scrumptious breakfasts, yummy lunch & tasty dinners, right the way through to luscious drinks, healthy snacks, and kid meals. This recipe book has existing dishes for everyone!
Each healthy home-cooked recipe outlines how many people the mouth-watering meals serve, the time it takes to cook, the number of calories the dish contains and the macros (protein, calories & carbohydrates).
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