Quick low-cal dinners to get you back on track

Published on January 12 2009 - 8:36 AM
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen during the past month baking, cooking and roasting up a storm. And some of what I made and ate—dozens and dozens of cookies, decadent desserts, super-cheesy appetizers—wasn’t the most healthful fare. I’m not ready to get on a scale just yet to see how much damage was done. But I am ready to switch gears and eat a little more healthfully. This week’s menu is made up of dinner recipes with 350 calories or less that are ready in 30 minutes or less.

MONDAY: Moo Shu Vegetables (171 calories per serving) Start-to-finish: 20 minutes This vegetarian version of the classic Chinese stir-fry, Moo Shu, uses already-shredded vegetables to cut down on the prep time. SERVING SUGGESTION: Warm whole-wheat tortillas, Asian hot sauce and extra hoisin if desired

TUESDAY: Pecan-Crusted Chicken (281 calories per serving) Start-to-finish: 30 minutes This recipe coats tender chicken breasts with a buttery pecans flavored with spicy chipotle and zesty orange. SERVING SUGGESTION: Spinach salad with sliced mango and avocado and a glass of chardonnay.

WEDNESDAY: Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad (253 calories per serving) Start-to-finish: 10 minutes This streamlined version of a northern Italian idea is perfect for nights when you need something really quick for dinner: no-fuss, no-cook and big taste. You can even make it ahead and store it, covered, in the refrigerator for several days. If you do, use it as a wrap filling for the next day's lunch. SERVING SUGGESTION: Tuck into whole-wheat pitas with romaine lettuce or over a bed of salad greens with crusty whole-grain baguette.

THURSDAY: Asian Salisbury Steaks with Sauteed Watercress (302 calories per serving) Start-to-finish: 30 minutes Back in the 19th century, an English doctor named J.H. Salisbury prescribed beef for all manner of ailments. We think he’d love this healthy update of the ground-beef-and-onions classic that bears his name. The sautéed watercress is an excellent foil to the meaty glazed beef. SERVING SUGGESTION: Brown rice or rice noodles and a cold beer.

FRIDAY: Florentine Ravioli (277 calories per serving) Start-to-finish: 20 minutes The flavors of Italy are best expressed in simplicity: a dash of spices, a little oil and dinner’s on the table in minutes—especially if you use frozen spinach and frozen ravioli or tortellini. SERVING SUGGESTION: Green salad with your favorite dressing and a glass of chianti.

A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and dog.