Help! I need recipes for delicious low calorie meals. What are your favourites?

My husband and I have been travelling around the world for the past 10 months. While it's been a lot of fun, eating out all the time has done a number on our weight. At the moment I am able to cook our meals and we're almost back to our preferred weights. My problem is that I'm tired of the foods we've been eating for the past month and was wondering if any of my fellow food52ers could share their favorite low calorie recipes with me. Thank you so much for any ideas or other information you might give.

Trena Heinrich


lloreen July 20, 2015
Have you been doing any stir frying? If you have a gas stove and a wok, you need very little oil and you don't miss it if you use garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and hot pepper for flavor. I find that I also eat less meat and more veggies when I stir fry because it is cut into small pieces. Personally, I don't need rice, but a half cup of brown or wild rice isn't bad for you.
Trena H. July 20, 2015
lloreen - Stir frying is an excellent idea! Great suggestion to cut down meat and add more vegetables while limiting carbs. Also, your sauce sounds delicious. Thank you!
aargersi July 20, 2015
Trena I am also trying to trim the last 5 (10? a girl can dream ...) as well as reduce my cholesterol (thank you genetics) and my doctor recommended the Mediterranean Diet which I have been loosley following - the happy news is that is is good for weight loss and it's real food. The principals are: reduce your red meat / animal protein intake, increase you plant based foods (whole grains, fruits and veggies) and primarily use the "good" fats (olive oil in particular) and limited dairy and white processed foods (flour, sugar) which all seems pretty common sense but sometimes it helps to have it spelled out. So my strategy has been to hit my bulk department at the store (farro, brown rice, lentils, beans, seeds, you get the idea) and my farmers market for inspiration veggie and fruit wise. Then I am actually planning weekly menus instead of winging it, so that I can be sure I am doing right things right. I am making sure to get in cold water fish a couple times a week (new fave - salmon glazed in lemon and orange juice with a tiny dab of marmalade, soy, ginger and garlic then grilled) vegetarian 2-3 nights a week, LOTS of green stuff, an array of other "colors" (the more diifferent colors of produce the better) and a supply of little things to brighten dishes up - olives and capers, anchovies, fresh herbs, lots of citrus.
OK so last night was pan seared goat loin with citrus, herbs (marjoram and rosemary) olives and orange, farro, and a mustard greens orange and almond salad
Tonight is grilled chicken thighs, zucchini "spaghetti", and lentils.
Tomorrow I will make tofu, avocado and shiso spring rolls with chili dipping sauce
Wed - niciose (spelling?) salad with tuna and olives, blanched green beans, onion and boiled quail eggs (which are also cute and fun to eat) tomatoes cucmbers etc ...
So that's the general idea around here! Hope it helps!
Trena H. July 20, 2015
Abbie - My mouth started watering as I was reading your post. The Mediterranean diet sounds delicious, healthy, and diverse. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question, I really appreciate it. I can't wait to try these meals.
Nancy July 20, 2015
Glad I asked...was about to recommend roasted brassicas, like turnips.

OK, not exactly favorite recipes but favorite tactics, for nourishing yourself and loved ones while reducing weight. You are still feeding yourself (positive, joyful action).

1) Speed up your metabolism at same time you reduce intake. you can do this by both obvious (exercise) & less obvious (eat more complex foods, so your body has to work harder to digest).
2) make sure your food has visual & taste appeal - maintain color and texture contrast in your cooking
3) Experiment with fats - for example, exotic nut oils, pumpkin seed oil (from Austrian cuisine), duck or chicken fat - new to you and low in saturated fat, or even medium in saturated fat if low in volume. Integrate the ones you like best into your regular cooking.
4) Experiment with complex carbohydrates new to you - both for the metabolism speed-up already mentioned & for micronutrients. Wheat berries, whole barley, spelt or farro, et al. Keep the ones you like when your diet returns to normal.
5) Yes eat lots of produce, but favor vegetables over fruit, as fruit is high in sugar.
6) Make smoothies for breakfast, snacks, pick me ups. Here is a favorite master recipe, which allows you to substitute according to taste preference and market availability.
8) You haven't mentioned proteins, and this is coals to Newcastle, but what about shrimp on the barbie, other grilled fish? great with a splash of lemon juice and olive oil, dusting of hot pepper.
Trena H. July 20, 2015
Nancy - thank you very much! You've given me a lot of great information and some new ideas that I'm excited to try.
Nancy July 20, 2015
Will you tell please us a little about what you have been cooking and eating the past month, so we don't inadvertently offer you those foods all over again
Trena H. July 20, 2015
Thanks Nancy. I've been making a lot of soups. Raw vegetables with yogurt dip, herbs, and spices. Roasted chicken with coleslaw. Because I'm in Australia and it's winter here I've been eaten locally grown food that's in season which largely consists of root vegetables and Brassica family vegetables. I look forward to your suggestions and advice.
witloof July 19, 2015
Here is a soup I have been making all summer: dice an onion, chop some garlic and saute it in olive oil a big pot. Add a little salt and some pepper. When the onion is transparent, add about a quarter cup of nutritional yeast and cook it for a few more minutes. Then add two or three bunches of greens, like swiss chard, spinach, or tatsoi, and enough water to cover it. Cook until the greens are just wilted and add a big handful of fresh dill, some mint, some parsley, and some cilantro. Buzz it up with a stick blender and season it with lemon juice and sugar until it's sweet and sour to your liking. It's great chilled.
Trena H. July 20, 2015
Sounds refreshing and healthy. Thank you!
PieceOfLayerCake July 19, 2015
When I'm eating lighter, I value freshness and simplicity. Fish, shrimp, lean meat, mushrooms. Seasoned and either grilled or lightly pan fried. Right now I've been grilling almost everything (mostly brined chicken and lean pork) and throwing the vegetables on with the meat. Some fresh herb, citrus, flaked salt and you have dinner. The most important thing I do to eat lighter is to limit starches, treating them like more of a treat than a necessity. Tonight I had grilled octopus with grilled zucchini, cauliflower and green beans seasoned with lemon, dill and parsley.
Trena H. July 20, 2015
Grilling is a great way to prepare proteins, grilled octopus sounds delicious. Thank you for weighing in.
Sam1148 July 19, 2015
I've been enjoying variations of Mexican Fruit Salad.
The basic game plan: Melons cubes, Jicama, orange slices, Cucumber, tomato, Hot peppers (just a few sliced thin), A touch of cilantro or parsley----I only use the stems of cilantro chopped fine.
Cut the fruit in cubes or match sticks..or melon balls.

Dressing: Lime, Honey, cumin. chili powder

Protein: Spanish ham, or grilled shrimp.

Mix that up and serve with lime wedges...and some crunchy salt.
Trena H. July 20, 2015
Sam - Thank you! The dressing sounds delicious and I like that I can tweak the recipe to suit my tastes.
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