It’s official diet season now, so let’s address one of the biggest problems with dieting: cooking. I’m constantly amazed at the continued emphasis on cooking in diet books. Sorry, few people are cooking anymore, certainly not from scratch using fussy, time-consuming recipes with exotic, expensive ingredients. People are busy. The last thing you want to do when you get home at 6:30 or later is spend 2 hours in the kitchen.
So with that in mind, here are 5 possibilities for really quick filling healthy and inexpensive diet dinners. You could use this list every week, varying the ingredients to change up the meals.
- Soup and salad: find a quality low sodium canned soup without MSG, preferably full of vegetables. Soup add-ins: canned beans or grated cheese. Salad add-ins: grated cheese, leftover turkey or chicken, nuts.
- Vegetable stir-fry: use a variety of vegetables, and add some protein food such as chicken, fish, beef strips, tofu chunks.
- Omelet: fill your omelet with sauteed vegetables: peppers, onions, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, chopped broccoli. Cheese optional. Have a small green salad on the side.
- Yogurt Fruit salad: use fresh fruit, or frozen unsweetened fruit.
- Bean Vegetable burrito (or wrap): use lowfat refried beans or plain canned beans. Wrap up with sauteed or raw vegetables, cooked potatoes, grated cheese, salsa or other sauces. You can also make an Asian version using eggroll wraps, rice, raw vegetables (grated carrot, cabbage, onion, sprouts, cilantro, peppers), fish or chicken and peanut or other Asian dipping sauces.
Of all these ideas, I like soup the best. Canned soup is a great tool for building healthy diet dinners. You can start with something simple and add canned beans, greens, chopped or shredded vegetables, cooked grains or pasta or leftover meat or tofu. Better yet, soup if warm and filling. If you add enough vegetables and beans to the soup, you don’t even need to include a side salad. Just have a big bowl of soup. If you need extra food, add some whole grain bread or crackers (my fave: Ak Mak).
For more on diet foods and dieting, check out the podcast. Cottage cheese is back in style!