Hear the word diet, and what comes to mind? For starters, pain, guilt, and pants that won’t zip up — and let’s not forget food that tastes like cardboard. If it’s good in your tummy, it must be bad for your body, or so goes the old thinking. But how can a diet succeed if you never get the flavors you crave? That’s why we designed this nutrition plan not only to help you hit a goal, but also to give you the tastes you love. Whatever food you long for — sweet, spicy, or savory — we’ve got the low-cal version.
Follow the daily dishes put together by a registered dietician (and add on one 100-calorie snack!) and feel free to repeat whichever ones ring your bell. As long as you stick to the choices listed here, you’ll keep your total calorie intake to 1,300 a day. Drink calorie-free beverages (water, soda, seltzer, unsweetened black coffee, or tea) as desired. Repeat the plan for one month.
Start your week off strong with fiber-filled cereal and an Asian-inspired turkey burger.
Eat 1 cup oatmeal (like Bob’s Red Mill) made with hot water and topped with 1/2 banana.
Make a spinach salad by topping 3 to 4 cups baby spinach leaves with 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped; 2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled; 5 mushrooms, thinly sliced; 1/3 cup croutons; 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese; and 3 slices red onion. Toss ingredients together, then drizzle with a flavored vinegar, such as red wine, balsamic or seasoned rice vinegar. Finish off your meal with a pear.
To make a savory Asian patty, mix 1 pound ground turkey breast with 8-ounce canned water chestnuts, diced; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 4 green onions, thinly sliced; 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce; 4 teaspoons soy sauce. Shape mixture into 4 patties. Freeze 3 for later use. In nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook patty over medium heat until thoroughly cooked throughout. Serve with a side dish of 3/4 cup cooked ricetossed with 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil.
Round it out with 2 cups steamed broccoli florets and 1 cup berries on the side
On the menu today: a classic peanut-butter sandwich followed by little Tex-Mex flavor.
Toast one English muffin and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese (any type). Buke or broil until cheese melts. Eat it with 1 pear.
Spread 1 slice raisin bread with 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter. Top with 1/2 banana, sliced. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon honey and cover with another slice of raisin bread and drink with 1 cup fat-free milk.
Heat things up with a spicy chicken olé. On a 12-inch-long sheet of aluminum foil, center a 5-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast. Top with 3/4 cup canned corn with peppers, 1/4 cup salsa, and 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (optional). Fold foil into a packet. Bake on cookie sheet at 450 degrees F about 18 minutes.
Pair it with a citrusy avocado salad: On lettuce leaves, arrange 1 tangerine, peeled and divided into segments; 1/4 ripe avocado, thinly sliced; 1 slice red onion. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.
Keep it up with lots of filling whole grains and some easy veggie pockets for your midday meal.
Cook 1/2 cup oats with 1 cup fat-free milk. Stir in 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 cup berries, and pinch of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
Cut a whole-wheat pita in half. Spread 3 tablespoons hummus in each pocket. Stuff with tomato and cucumber slices and baby spinach leaves. Sprinkle each stuffed pita pocket with a flavored vinegar. Eat it with 6 ounces light yogurt and 1 kiwi.
For entrée, whip up some sweet honey pork. Cut 1 pound pork tenderloin into 8 slices. Pound slices into 1/4-inch-thick medallions. Freeze 6 medallions. Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Cook 2 medallions over medium heat until lightly browned. Add 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 teaspoons honey, and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Continue cooking pork until tender, about 3 minutes.
Make apricot couscous as a side. In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/3 cup chicken broth; 2 dried apricots, cut into thin strips; and 1/4 teaspoon grated orange rind until boiling. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup couscous. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Serve with 1 cup steamed green beans.
Good news: You can look forward to a veggie-filled beef stir-fry tonight that’s faster to make than delivery.
Get your day started with 1/2 cantaloupe topped with 3/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, plus 1 slice toasted raisin bread, spread with 1 tablespoon apple butter.
Top 3 to 4 cups salad greens with 1/2 cup water-packed white tuna, drained; 1 small tomato, cut into wedges; 2 green onions, sliced. Drizzle with a mixture of 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon flavored vinegar. Pair it with 1/2 whole-wheat pita and 6 ounces calcium-fortified orange juice.
It’s hard to go wrong with a classic savory stir-fry. In nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, lightly brown 3 ounces beef strips over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables and 1 tablespoon bottled stir-fry sauce. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil. Serve over 3/4 cup cooked rice.
Get in that all-important vitamin B12 with a spicy seafood dish tonight.
Roll up a breakfast burrito for the most important meal of the day. Beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons grated cheese. Add dash of cayenne pepper sauce. Cook in nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Place over warm 6-inch corn tortilla, top with 1/4 cup salsa, fold tortilla around filling. Finish your meal with a 2 clementines.
Spread 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise on 2 slices rye bread. Layer 2 ounces thinly sliced extra-lean ham, 1 ounce sliced cheese, 4 dill pickle slices, 1 jarred roasted red pepper, 1 onion slice, and lettuce leaves for a classic ham sandwich. Eat it with 1/2 grapefruit.
To make chili-rubbed spicy salmon, coat 5-ounce salmon fillet with a mixture of 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Spray with cooking spray. In nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook until opaque, turning once. Serve with 2/3 cup refrigerated mashed potatoes and 12 roasted asparagus spears sprinkled with lemon juice, and 1/4 cantaloupe wedge for dessert.
Kick off the weekend with a three-ingredient smoothie plus a white-wine chicken dish.
In blender, combine 1 cup fat-free milk; 1 frozen peeled banana, sliced; and 1 tablespoon peanut butter for a protein-filled smoothie.
Make a roast beef sandwich by spreading 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard on 2 slices rye bread and layering 3 ounces of thinly sliced lean roast beef with tomato and onion slices on top. Round it out 6 ounces light yogurt with 1 tablespoon raisins.
This sweet chicken with grapes recipe doesn’t sacrifice any flavor. In nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil, cook 5 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast; 1 tablespoon minced shallots; 1/4 teaspoon thyme; 1/4 teaspoon salt; and a dash of pepper until chicken is browned on both sides and loses pink color throughout. Place chicken on plate. Add 3/4 cup halved seedless grapes and 1/4 cup white wine to skillet; boil 1 minute. Pour over chicken. Serve with 3/4 cup cooked rice.
Treat yourself to a brunch-worthy meal in the morning and a yummy veggie burger at night.
Make French toast by dipping 2 slices raisin bread in a mixture of 1 egg and 1 tablespoon fat-free milk. In nonstick skillet melt 1 teaspoon butter. Fry coated bread until golden, turning once. Spread with 1 tablespoon jam.
Top 1 large baked potato with 1/4 cup grated cheese, 3 tablespoons diced avocado, and 1/4 cup salsa. Eat 8 baby carrots on the side.
In nonstick skillet, add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 thinly sliced medium onion, salt, black pepper, and dried rosemary to taste. Cook until onion is tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Pan-grill one veggie burger. Mix 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard; spread inside whole wheat pita, halved. Cut burger in half and tuck into pita pockets along with baby spinach leaves and caramelized onion. Eat 1 cup berries for dessert.