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On a low-calorie diet? Then you may be feeling stressed about all the high-fat, calorie-exploding recipes out there on the ‘net. Not to mention the swell of photos and videos featuring recipes for delicious burgers, French fries, fried chicken … OK, you get the point. The truth is that low-calorie recipes can be just as good as recipes that are packed with calories from butter, sugars, dairy, and meat fat. The biggest difference is that those other dishes use the high-calorie stuff to enhance t…

e flavor. Don’t get us wrong; fatty dishes can taste great. But do you know what else tastes great? Herbs and spices. Also, the way you cook your food creates different textures that enhance food’s flavor. If you sear chicken breast, for example, you’ll end up with a plain, flavorless slab of chicken. But if you coat chicken breast in corn flakes and bake it on high heat, then you’ll have a tender, crunchy and juicy piece of oven fried chicken. Now that’s what we’re talking about.

Baked Low-Calorie Recipes

The first thing you need to do to turn a high-calorie dinner dish into a low-calorie dee-lish is by ditching the deep fryer and the butter-filled skillet and crank your oven up. But baking is not actually the thing that’s turning your dinner recipes from a calorie fest to a heart-and-hip healthy meal. You need the right ingredients and seasonings.

Chicken is the perfect go-to low-calorie protein, and it's low carb, too. You get extra points (or lose calories points) for sticking with white meat. For one thing, chicken recipes are easy to make lean, if they're not already – especially chicken breast. And whatever you were planning to do with that fryer or skillet, you can do, instead, in an oven. If you’re worried that you’re going to end up with an overcooked, dry fillet, then you’re in luck. Here are some tips for baking the perfect piece of chicken, fish fillet, or steak. Start by preheating the oven. You always want to put your uncooked food in a piping hot oven. Whether is a one-pan Chinese stir-fry, slow-cooked lemon, and herb chicken, or baked eggplant Parmesan, never put food in an oven that has not been preheated. Also, use parchment paper or tinfoil – or even using an oven-safe lid – to help trap juices in the meat. Finally, just two or three minutes before your recipe is set to finish baking, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Allow chicken, fish, or steak to cook too long, and you’ll have an over-cooked meal. But if you don’t cook your recipe long enough, you risk something far worse than tough meat.

Do you know what else the oven is good for? Almost anything! Baked fish – like ginger and soy halibut to roasted salmon with shallots, or Chilean sea bass – is healthy, it’s naturally lean, and low calorie,

Low-Calorie Sauce Recipes

Some people love sauce. They love red sauce, meat sauce, and soy sauce. They love to dip and dunk and smother their food in flavors sweet and sour, tangy, savory, and everything in between. We’re all for it! Here’s a tip for a low-calorie saucy Mexican meal.

Boil chicken breast until it’s fully cooked, then shred it to pieces by hand. While the chicken boils, combine your ingredients – a dash of honey, lime or lemon juice, some canola or olive oil, and garlic. When the chicken is ready, this is your marinade. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees and while it heats up, roll the chicken mixture in a corn tortilla. When all your tortillas are on a lightly oiled baking pan, cover in enchilada sauce and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. After allowing it to cool a bit out of the oven, top with crisp and fresh sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes, and sprinkle a bit of regular or part-skim shredded cheddar. Use any leftover shredded chicken to make corn tacos or add it to a side salad.

Spaghetti squash casserole is another saucy meal, this one from the Italian mainland. What makes it a healthy, low-calorie option is substituting starchy pasta with spaghetti squash, 80/20 lean ground beef (or, better yet, ground turkey), and part-skim ricotta and mozzarella cheese. The high-calorie version relies on fat from the beef and cheese for a lot of the flavor. But in this version, be sure to have plenty of dried oregano and basil, garlic, onion powder, and crushed red pepper for your marinara sauce. After you cook the meat and baked the squash, place your squash on a lightly oiled baking sheet, top with the meat and marina layer, then the cheese layer. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. This is also a perfect recipe to create in a slow cooker.

Finally, the last thing you need to know about cooking healthy recipes for weight loss or to feel better overall is that it’s all about the portion size. Even if you ditch the low-calorie dinner and opt for the full-fat cheese or regular ground beef, a good rule of thumb is to keep your servings about the size of a deck of cards. It may sound small, but by eating slowly and chewing more deliberately, you’ll make the meal linger and will feel fuller longer. We guarantee it!

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