Choosing low calorie dinners doesn't mean giving up good food, or even avoiding dessert. With many people trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body, learning to choose low calorie dinners with discretion is an important part of ensuring a diet that is both low calorie and provides essential nutrition. Some good ways to choose a low calorie meal include using online recipe databases or calorie-counting cookbooks, planning ingredients carefully to ensure a balanced meal, using the substitution principal, and trying healthy frozen entrees for a fast solution.
Many websites and books are devoted to helping people create and find the best low calorie dinners. While there are hundreds of choices for recipes, it is important to look for certain characteristics when choosing a recipe book or database. First, good recipes will list both the calorie and nutritional information for the dish, including the amount of fat, protein, and vitamins provided. Second, try to avoid recipes that advocate the use of artificial sugars or fats as a means of reducing calories, as these products may be detrimental to health. It may help to create a personal recipe file of the best low-calorie finds, so later dinners can be easily planned without having to search for hours.
When putting together a low calorie dinner, the ingredients and proportions need to be carefully considered. Technically, eating three slices of white bread can constitute a low calorie meal, but will never provide the correct nutrition for a healthy body. While experts disagree as to exactly which fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains are the best for health, in general, most health experts advocate a diet that includes a large proportion of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. When planning balanced low calorie dinners, consider organizing each plate to contain half vegetables, one-quarter protein, and one-quarter starch or whole grain.
Substitution of ingredients can be key to cutting calories for both treats and full meals. For instance, to make a deli sandwich into a low-cal dinner, consider swapping in whole wheat bread, mustard or salsa instead of mayo, and lean turkey. For an icy treat, consider delighting in frozen yogurt or sorbet instead of high-calorie full-fat ice cream. Substituting smart, healthy ingredients in can help save hundreds of calories per day.
In stressful or busy times, preparing low calorie dinners from scratch may seem like a Herculean task. Instead of stressing over chopping carrots after a 12-hour day, consider occasionally relying on healthy frozen entrees to create good low calorie dinners. To choose healthy frozen dishes, read ingredients with great care: avoid sugar and fat substitutes, and watch out for high sodium levels. Some frozen dinners even use all-organic ingredients and even provide vegetarian, low-sodium, or gluten-free options. While frozen meals may not provide the same nutritional value as fresh versions, they can be an excellent way to control portions and calories during busy days.