The Healthiest Low-Calorie Dinners
Every one of these satisfying dishes is less than 500 calories and brims with good-for-you ingredients like spinach, lentils, kale and fresh herbs.
A Baked Pasta Dish That Delivers a Vitamin Boost
When a big salad just isn't going to cut it, try this cheesy casserole, which has less than 400 calories per serving. It's made with fat-free ricotta and part-skim mozzarella, along with frozen, chopped spinach, which is off the charts in vitamin A—and also high in calcium, fiber and iron.
Get the recipe: Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
Vegetarian Tacos That Actually Fill You Up
Though they're non-traditional in tacos, cooked lentils make a terrific healthy filling. With its mild flavor, the protein- and fiber-rich legume goes well with strong Mexican flavors such as cumin, paprika, chili and garlic, and is a nice accompaniment to chopped, fresh vegetables in tortillas.
Get the recipe: Lentil Taco "Meat"
Creamy Soup Without the Guilt
Instead of the usual mushrooms or broccoli, this smooth and creamy soup incorporates superfood kale—a big, 10-ounce bunch of it, which you cook along with thin rings of red onion that are sweetened with a spoonful of brown sugar. One more reason to love this dish: There's no butter, and just a half-cup of heavy cream.
Get the recipe: Cream of Kale Soup
The Thai Classic, with More Good and Less Bad
We love salty and sweet Pad Thai, which delivers a contrast of textures, from soft noodles to crunchy peanuts. Though it can be unhealthy (a typical takeout box can contain 1,140 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat
), making your own 460-calorie version is easy. Just pile on hearty vegetables and use fewer rice noodles (which nutritionists say are a waste of calories).
Get the recipe: Pad Thai
Grilled Chicken with a Sauce That You're Probably Going to Want to Use on Everything
Plain grilled chicken is healthy and low-calorie...but that's about it. Not this mouthwatering take, though, which you can cook in a grill or sauté pan. It uses a garlicky, herby chimichurri sauce to infuse the meat with a ton of flavor—without loads of extra calories (one serving is just about 400 calories). Keep some extra sauce in the fridge; it's excellent over roasted or grilled vegetables, or even salad.
Get the recipe: Cat Cora's Chicken Kebabs with Chimichurri Sauce
Next: 6 vegetarian casseroles that even meat eaters will love