Restrictive diets and unbalanced food plans that leave you starving at the end of the day are not only hard to stay on, they also often fail to deliver the nutrients vital to your long-term health. Experts recommend shaving 500 calories from your daily diet, or consuming about 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day to safely and effectively lose weight. But knowing how to cut back and cook meals that are as filling as they are fulfilling can be a challenge – and a hurdle to your ultimate weight loss goals. Nancy S Hughes, cookbook author and recipe developer for Weight Watchers, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, shows you how to whip up satisfying, balanced meals in her most recent release The 1,500-Calorie-a-Day Cookbook.
Mix and match for a daily variety of healthy, satisfying 30-minute meals
From hearty 350-calorie meals to scrumptious 150-calorie snacks and desserts, Hughes proves that weight loss and following a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet can be a delicious, healthy endeavor. Hughes, known for her signature no-hassle cooking philosophy provides a delectable variety of what she calls “stick-to-the-ribs” recipes that are ready in 30 minutes or less. The cookbook author’s recipes also call for no more than eight ingredients and use “time shavers” and shortcuts to make cooking and cleanup fast and easy.Some particularly mouthwatering meals include: Cinnamon French Toast with Cheesecake Sauce, Buttermilk-Battered Fried Chicken Tenders with Faux Mashed Potatoes, Simply Sizzling Steak and Onions, and Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Pie. Even the titles of her recipes are drool-worthy! Plus, with every delicious recipe, Hughes provides nutritional tidbits and serving suggestions that will round out your 350-calorie meals.Simply peruse the cookbook, mix and match recipes, and create a daily meal plan that is delicious and satisfying for you. Just think: Three scrumptious 350-calorie meals, two tasty 150-calorie snacks, and a guilt-free 150-calorie dessert all in one day. Weight loss and healthy eating couldn’t be easier!
The 1,500-calorie day
The following recipes show you just how flavorfully rewarding a 1,500-calorie meal plan can be. Recipes below are adapted from The 1,500-Calorie-a-Day Cookbook to show one serving per meal, snack and dessert — actual recipes list ingredients for multiple servings.
Sausage and Glazed Pineapple
Serves 1Serve this flavorful sweet and savory dish with a toaster waffle topped with 1 tablespoon of reduced-calorie pancake syrup and 2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt.Ingredients:
2 pineapple slices in juice plus 1 tablespoon of juice
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons diet margarine
Dash of ground cinnamon
2 lean breakfast turkey sausage linksDirections:
1. Place 2 pineapple slices and 1 tablespoon of juice in a bowl and set aside. Place a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the sugar, margarine and cinnamon. When margarine has melted, stir and add pineapple slices (not the juice) in a single layer. Cook 5 minutes or until richly browned, turning frequently, and set aside on a serving platter.2. Coat skillet with cooking spray and reduce heat to medium. Add sausages and coat them with cooking spray. Cook 14 minutes, turning frequently, or until meat reaches 170 degrees F. Place on the serving platter with the pineapple. Increase heat to medium-high and add pineapple juice, reducing slightly. Drizzle over sausages and serve.
Sweet and Crunchy Snack Mix
Serves 1Keep snack bags of this crunchy chewy mix in your purse or desk for a handy nibble in between meals.Ingredients:
About 1/3 cup crunchy high-fiber cereal
1 tablespoon dried cherries
1 tablespoon dry-roasted peanutsDirections:
Combine ingredients, tossing to blend.
Country Herbed-Cheese Crostini
Serves 1Round out this recipe with 3/4-cup grapefruit sections and 10 baby carrots for a lunch with many mouthwatering tastes and textures.Ingredients:
1 (2-ounce) slice French country bread or sourdough bread
1 ounce light garlic and herb cream cheese spread
4 basil leaves
1/4 tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed spring greens
1 ounce oven-roasted deli turkey, sliced thinDirections:
Place bread on a baking sheet in a cold oven. Set oven for 350 degrees F. Turn bread after 4 minutes. When oven reaches 350 degrees F., turn it off and remove bread. Set aside to cool completely. Bread should be lightly toasted. Top toast with cheese spread, basil, tomato, greens and turkey. Serve open-faced, cut in half.
Serves 1Counter your sweet tooth with a spicy cheesy snack that can be ready in minutes.Ingredients:
2 tablespoons finely shredded mozzarella cheese
3 small pitted ripe olives, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded, chopped fine
1 tablespoon finely chopped red pepper
6 reduced-fat shredded wheat crackersDirections:
In a small bowl, combine cheese, olives and peppers, tossing gently to blend. Spoon equal amounts of cheese mixture on each of the crackers. Microwave for 45 seconds or just until cheese has melted.
Thyme-Rubbed Skillet Pork Chop
Serves 1Serve this juicy chop with 1/2 cup corn, 1 cup Brussels sprouts, and 1 small dinner roll.Ingredients:
Pinch each of: dried thyme, crumbled dried rosemary, garlic powder, paprika, salt and black pepper
1 (5- to 6-ounce) bone-in pork chop
1 teaspoon canola oilDirections:
In a small bowl, combine herbs and spices. Rub them on both sides of pork chop. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat, tilting skillet to coat with oil. Cook pork chop for 5 minutes on each side or until barely pink in the center. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 3 minutes to all juices to release and create a light sauce.
Sour Cherry Almond Pear Parfaits
Serves 1Cherry, vanilla and almonds are a trifecta of tantalizing tastes in this healthy dessert.Ingredients:
2/3 cup sour pitted cherries in their own juice, undrained
1/4 ripe pear, peeled, halved, cored, diced
3/4 tablespoon pourable sugar substitute
Drop or two of almond extract
1/3 cup light vanilla yogurt
1-1/2 teaspoons sliced almonds, toasted, crushedDirections:
Combine cherries, juice, pear, sugar substitute and almond extract in a small bowl, tossing to combine. Let stand 5 minutes to absorb flavors. To serve, layer cherry mixture with yogurt in a small clear glass or champagne flute. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.