10 Healthy, Low-Cal Recipes That Taste Amazing

Our collection of low-cal recipes under 450 calories help you take charge of your health with healthy, home cooked meals that are both tasty and flavorful.

  • By Jackie Sun
  • June 15, 2015

What does healthy mean to you?

For us, we believe that health starts with a home cooked meal, which means that you know what you eat, and you are in control of what you put in your body. While cooking your own meals is a good start to eating healthier, it doesn’t necessarily define “healthy.”

To eat healthy, it’s about understanding the foods that you eat and achieving a balanced meal.

The recipes we have chosen for this collection don’t omit anything entirely, because we believe that eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself in any way. Keep in mind, though, that everything is best eaten in moderation!

We’ve put together 10 of our favorite recipes that are under 450 calories to help you eat and live healthier without compromising taste. Whoever says that healthy is bland and boring obviously has not tried these recipes yet! You’ll see from this collection that, while these meals are low in calories, they are definitely not low in flavor.

Healthy doesn’t always mean low-cal, though, and in reverse, eating less calories does not make it healthy. By understanding the caloric value of the foods you eat, you will be able to get a better understanding of how to eat healthy, and in turn, achieve new health milestones.

To get you started with healthy eating, here are some health smarts:

Use Small Amounts of Fat

Don’t compromise taste just because an ingredient is high in calories. You can still enjoy richness and flavor by cutting the amount of fat called for in recipes. For example, traditional Tom Kha Gai is a Thai soup that contains coconut milk, which tends to be high in calories. Instead of using a lot, we add a smaller amount, so that you can still enjoy the taste of this traditional dish, but with fewer calories. Tweet this tip.

Likewise, when cooking with butter or oil, you really don’t need a lot. If you’re worried about the food sticking to the pan, use a non-stick pan.

Manage Portions Correctly

Rice, pasta, and other heavy carbs can be very caloric, so we understand why some folks have eliminated it from their diet. But we love these grains, so instead of getting rid of them entirely, we learned how to portion our serving sizes. Tweet this tip.

1 cup of uncooked rice can easily serve 4, especially if you add other healthy components to balance your meal. Don’t make the heavy grains the main part of your meal, but instead, as a complement to your proteins and veggies, like in our Slow Cooker Adobo Chicken with Garlic Bok Choy.

Eat More Veggies

Balance out your meals with healthy and good-for-you carbs – veggies! Reducing the amount that you eat can be unfilling, so rather than going for a second serving of pasta or meat, add more veggies to your dish. You’ll still be able to enjoy your grains and meat, like in our recipe for Ginger Beef Stir-Fry, but you’ll also be able to eat your fill. Tweet this tip.

Take Advantage of Herbs & Spices

Healthy meals do not have to be bland and boring. A simple way to incorporate more flavor into your dishes is to add dried spices or fresh herbs. They virtually have no calories, so seasoning your food properly maximizes flavor without increasing the calories. To learn more about cooking with these low-calorie ingredients, check out our Ultimate Guide to Spices and our Guide to Cooking with Fresh Herbs.

Similarly, citrus also adds flavor without adding calories. A squeeze of lemon juice helps keep meals light, flavorful, and fresh, like in our Lemon-Herb Quinoa that we serve with Pan-Seared Tilapia with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa. Freshly chopped herbs and lemon juice go a long way without weighing down the meal! Tweet this tip.

Choose Lean

When we say that meals should be balanced, we mean it! Enjoy rice, red meat, and butter every now and then, but like we said, keep it in moderation. Don’t feel like you have to eliminate your favorite foods just to stay healthy. But whenever you can, choose a leaner option. Tweet this tip.

If you’ve already had a bit of steak for the week, choose lean ground turkey instead of ground beef for your next weeknight meal. If dinner already consisted of chicken breast, go for fish or seafood.

Our Spice-Roasted Fish Tacos combines all of our health tips in one dish – packing them with veggies balances out the high-calorie tortillas, and adding spices adds flavor. Plus, using lean fish keeps it healthy, light, and tasty.

“Choosing lean” applies to cooking methods as well. Baking and broiling in the oven only requires a small amount of fat, whereas frying means that food is cooked in fat. So when you’re trying to decide the healthiest way to cook dinner, try a cooking method that calls for less fat, such as sauteing, roasting, or braising. Tweet this tip.

Eat a Salad

We know, this is the most dreaded thing people want to hear when they want to know how they can eat healthy. But listen – salads aren’t just piles of boring green leaves! They’re refreshing, packed with lots of veggies, and you can customize it to your liking.

Because they are so low-cal, you can take advantage of that and indulge in a creamy, homemade dressing, like the one found in our Shrimp Fajita Salad. Homemade dressings mean greater control of calorie intake and, better yet, no preservatives! Tweet this tip.

What’s great about salads is that anything goes. If you have leftover sauteed chicken or half a bell pepper hanging out in your fridge, you can add them to a salad.

For our Shrimp Fajita Salad, we could have easily had this over rice, but the sauteed shrimp and bell peppers provided a delicious textural contrast with all the veggies.

There are so many combos for salads, but if you need some inspiration, our 50 Simple Salads infographic can get you started with lots of delicious healthy eating.

These health smarts are our favorite ways to eat healthy, but they also let us eat the things we enjoy the most. Remember, you can always eat healthy without compromising taste. Our collection of healthy, low-cal recipes includes the recipes we mentioned above and more, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to eat and live healthier!

Click the button below to download (for free!) and print out your own copy of these delicious recipes, which are good to enjoy at any time and with anyone.

Enjoy and cheers to your health!

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Top 10 Healthy Recipes Under 450 Calories | Cook SmartsTop 10 Healthy Recipes Under 450 Calories | Cook SmartsTop 10 Healthy Recipes Under 450 Calories | Cook Smarts


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