In our constant struggle to achieve that perfect body, all of us suffer from one common misconception- we must give up food to lose weight. Indisputably, your diet is the most important part of your weight loss plan.
But, if you think that you could either have a fabulous body or delicious food, you have never been more wrong.
Eating healthy does not need to be boring, expensive or any less fulfilling than eating normal food.
Healthy recipes do not have to be time-consuming, as is assumed. Yes, the path to achieving the right body is an uphill task.
Yes, there are several loopholes along the way. Yes, it pushes us to our limits. Yes, we have to practice moderation.
No, you don’t need always to give up that cookie or your favorite chocolate. No, you don’t have to be rich to eat healthy all the time. No, it is not impossible to both work and be able to cook a healthy dinner, or breakfast or lunch.
Yes, you have to cut down your calories. But, no, you don’t have to feel discontented all the time. Unbelievable as it may seem, healthy recipes are much less time consuming and costly and way more delicious than they are made out to be.
From fulfilling breakfasts to healthy lunches, nutritious dinners to divine desserts, quick snacks and everything in between, these recipes will make you think twice before you call your diet a “diet”.
On the journey to that glorious body, the first obstacle we need to overcome is the caloric constraint on our diets.
A 1500 calorie diet is mostly recommended as a good place to start for females who are lightly active and for males who are sedentary.
After experimenting with the diet for a week or two, the calorie goal may be adjusted according to an individual’s body needs.
It must be kept in mind, however, that going below 1200 calories a day is not at all recommended as the body’s calorific needs will not be met. The trick in consuming 1500 calories a day and still feeling full lies in taking nutrient dense foods.
Generally, a lot of calories we consume in our daily life are “empty calories” that do little to nothing in keeping us full. These foods are poor suppliers of the nutrients required by the body and contribute significantly towards increasing the number of calories.
Leading contributors of such foods include sodas, most juices and stuff like candies. Planning out meals in advance, and having a different menu for each day of the week takes the monotonicity away from eating a 1500 calorie diet.
Making 5-6 small meals from those 1500 calories rather than 3 big meals is again more beneficial. Replacing the sodas by water is a good idea. Skimmed milk is also a good alternative, as long as it is taken in moderation.
Healthy eating does not mean giving up drink altogether. Sodas might be replaced by low calorie fruit smoothies that are also way more fulfilling.
White bread may be replaced by brown bread and so on. One can even have desserts in a 1500 calorie diet if the meals are planned carefully.
Working within only 1500 calories per day might seem a mammoth task, but it isn’t really difficult once you get started.
With a beehive of tasty dishes out there, planning a 1500 calorie day should not be any less exciting than planning a high calorie dinner! Another upside: no guilt after eating, even if you do feel full!
Where you went wrong
So, why exactly is it difficult to eat healthy? There’s no rocket science involved here. The “eat less, exercise more” fundamental, though universally accepted, has several loopholes in it.
The trick in a 1500 calorie diet more like “eat right, in proper portions”. Probably the most integral part of cooking is the oil you cook the food in.
Healthy oils such as walnut oil (mainly for stir frying or sautéing), avocado oil (goes best with fishes) and grape seed oil (used for salad dressing, has a nutty finish) are the way to go.
On the other, anything that is “partially hydrogenated” is bad for your cholesterol, heart and your health in general. Do not shy away from fats, healthy fats actually aid in the weight loss process.
Fats like omega 3, 6 and 9 are great for the health. Sources rich in such fats include avocado, almonds and salmon. Do not go overboard with these, though.
They may be easily fitted into a 1500 calorie diet. For instance, 10 almonds a day make for a healthy snack. There are some other options out there as well. Turkey bacon is just 35 calories a slice.
Beef jerky is very low calorie and takes a long time to consume and hence is a good option.
While choosing meat, choose a lean, cut and deck up your plate with as many veggies as you possibly can- they are quite good for you. Yogurt, available in several flavors, is another delicious option.
Strawberries, healthy and helps with your sugar cravings, are only 135 calories for a pound.
Egg whites is another great option. Buy an egg beater and a carton of eggs and make omelets out of them. If you add in vegetables, it could make you a pretty big omelet.
Egg whites are just 75 calories in half a cup. Grilling is another good option to get rid of the oil. Fishes of all kinds including tuna and salmon taste great when grilled. These are also good sources of healthy fat.
Protein bars are also recommended but in moderation. Protein bars can be meal replacements if really needed. Lastly, drinking lots of water is an absolutely essential part of any successful 1500 calorie diet.
Starting off with Breakfast
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. A healthy breakfast helps to jumpstart your day, providing you with that extra burst of energy to keep you going.
Many of us skip breakfast or worse splurge up on carbohydrate-laden foods. Splurging can be a huge setback, considering you only have 1500 calories to work around.
Planning a breakfast is important so that you have enough calories out of the 1500 calories left for the rest of the day, so much so that you may even sneak in that irresistible dessert. There is no dearth of filling and nutritious breakfast choices.
Pancake for your thought
This homemade whole wheat pancakes will never make you want to buy pancake mix in the stores again. This no butter recipe makes light and fluffy pancakes.
Whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg (lightly beaten), low fat buttermilk and honey.
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Whip 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix 1 egg, buttermilk and honey.
- Blend in the egg and buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients by making a well in them. The batter need to rest for a few minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees or set up a pan (non-stick) to medium high heat.
- Drop the batter on to the pan (about ¼ cup) and cook until bubbles appear and the edges begin to dry.
- Cook the flip side for 1-2 minutes more. The batter will make 8 pancakes.
Serve with maple syrup or warm fruit compote. Chopped berries can be added too.
For only 188 calories per 2 pancakes, this might make for a great breakfast of a 1500 calorie diet. Only 21 of those calories come from fat. Carbohydrates constitute 34.2 g.
Breakfast a la Mexicana
Scrambled egg burritos
Prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 5 minutes
Large eggs (or egg substitute), 1% low fat milk, chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, butter, reduced fat cheddar cheese, flour tortillas (fat free), seeded chopped tomato, chunky salsa.
- Whisk 2 large eggs, 1 tbsp. low fat milk, 1 tsp. fresh chopped cilantro, a pinch of kosher salt and a hint of coarsely ground pepper in a bowl.
- Melt ½ tsp. Butter over medium heat and stir in the egg mixture and scramble.
- Spread 2 tbsp. cheese down the center of a tortilla and add the scrambled egg, 2 tbsp. shopped tomato, and 1 tbsp. bottled chunky salsa.
- Fold the bottom of the tortilla up and the sides to the middle. The mixture will make 2 burritos.
- A filling breakfast at just 259 calories per burrito, leaving enough breathing space in your 1500 calorie day. It contains 9 g of fat, 15 g of proteins and 29 g of carbs per serving.
Note: The burrito may be made even healthier by using just egg whites instead of whole eggs. Using fat free milk and fat free cheese cut down the fat even further.
Chicken apple sausage
It is easy to make you own sausage with just a few ingredients if you have the time. This recipe requires very few ingredients and come at a great value for its calories.
Time: 45 minutes
Canola oil, small onion (diced), 1 medium apple (sweet, peeled and sliced), ground chicken, sage, fennel seeds, brown sugar, ground pepper and salt.
- Heat oil over medium heat. Add 1 small, diced onion and stir for about 2 minutes (till they begin to soften).
- Mix in the apples and cook for 2 more minutes. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
- Gently mix 1 pound ground chicken, 1 tbsp. freshly chopped sage, 1 tbsp. light brown sugar, chopped fennel seeds, ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. ground pepper in a bowl.
- Heat the pan over medium flame. Scoop 4 portions of the sausage mixture into the pan. Flatten each portion into a 3-inch patty.
- Cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side that is until they are browned and cooked through. Adjust the heat so that the patties are not burned.
The mixture yields 8 patties.
Only 112 calories per patty, with 6 g of fat, 10 g of protein and 5 g of carbohydrates. You can have 2 patties for breakfast and still not spoil your 1500 calorie diet.
Note: ground turkey may be used in place of ground chicken, according to preference. Carbs per serving is just 1 medium-fat meat, perfectly alright for a 1500 calorie diet. The healthy herbs like sage and fennel are a welcome addition to your diet and taste.
Mushroom and wild rice frittata
Packed with flavor, texture and taste, this recipe is an awesome way of packing in some health food without compromising the taste.
A powerful medley of wild rice and different kinds of mushrooms, and topped with Parmesan, this recipe, is perfect for a Sunday brunch of a 1500 calorie diet.
For the wild rice:
Water, Wild Rice, Salt
For the frittata:
Large eggs, egg whites, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, olive oil, red onion, rosemary, mixed mushrooms (cremine, shiitake, and white button), parmesan cheese, and prosciutto.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
First up, for the preparation of wild rice, mix water, rice and salt in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cover and let it simmer till the rice is tender but still has a slight bite. This will take about 40-50 minutes. Drain the water and the result is 1.5 cups of cooked rice.
- About 30 minutes into the cooking of rice, beat 5 large eggs and 2 egg whites in a bowl, along with 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, ¼ tsp. each of salt, ground pepper and ground nutmeg.
- Preheat the boiler and then heat oil over medium heat in a 10 inch oven proof skillet.
- Add onion and the remaining of salt and pepper and stir for 3 minutes, until the onions soften.
- Next, stir in 1 tbsp. of fresh minced rosemary and the sliced mushrooms and cook.
- Stir frequently, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the pan is dry. This will take about 6-8 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and mix in the rice.
- Drizzle the egg mixture over the vegetables and rice. Cover partially and cook for about 5 minutes, till it is set around the edges.
- Dust parmesan and prosciutto over the dish. Broil until the eggs are set and the top is browned (2 minutes). Serve after 5 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: the rice may be prepared beforehand and stored in an airtight container. There are also varieties of rice available that take less time to cook.
Filling and delicious for just 210 calories per serving, with 17 g protein, 9 g fat and 18 g carbohydrates. Again, perfectly fits into your 1500 calorie diet.
Spicy shrimp with chili and garlic
Spicy, acidic and garlicky, this can be had as an appetizer or may be combined with a crusty whole wheat baguette and some baby greens and had over dinner. This recipe is low calorie, gluten-free and paleo- friendly but you would never know that from its amazing taste!
Peeled and deveined shrimps (medium sized), kosher salt, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, dried chilies, garlic cloves, lemon and parsley.
- Firstly, the shrimp (about 1.5 pounds) needs to be seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Heat ½ tbsp. oil in a pan over medium heat. The extra virgin olive oil makes sure you do not overshoot your 1500 calorie limit.
- Add in 1-2 roughly chopped dried chilies and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and add half the shrimp when the pan is hot. Let it cook undisturbed for 1.5 minutes.
- Turn and cook again till the shrimp turns opaque. This takes about 1 minute. Remove and transfer contents to a plate.
- Add the same amount of chilies as before to another ½ tbsp. oil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Mix the remaining shrimp and let it cook undisturbed for 1.5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, turn the shrimp over and cook for about 1 minute till the shrimp is opaque throughout. Mix in the first batch of shrimp and toss well. Remove from heat.
- Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon and add parsley. Toss well. Serve hot. This contains 6 servings.
This tasty appetizer is only 147 calories per serving with 23 g protein, 4 g fat and 3 g of carbs.
Note: the dried chilies may be replaced by a generous amount of red pepper (crushed).
Chilies can be left out completely to tone down the spiciness. A version of this dish can also be made with lime juice and cilantro, which is also an option in a 1500 calorie diet.
Don’t say No to burgers
When on a 1500 calorie diet, burgers are completely off the list, right? Wrong. This burger recipe makes for a hearty lunch, along with pesto and carrot-fennel slaw. These are also deceptively easy to prepare.
For the Portobello burgers:
Portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomato pesto, whole grain hamburger buns (split), tomato (ripe), fresh goat cheese (cut crosswise into 8 slices), basil leaves.
For the carrot fennel slaw:
Carrots, fennel bulb, basil leaves, olive oil, cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place the mushrooms on the tray. Bake for 14 minutes.
- Flip them and smear 1 tbsp. pesto evenly on each mushroom and bake again until the mushrooms are just tender.
- It will take about 10 minutes or so. In the meantime, to prepare the carrot-fennel slaw, mix 2 cups of shredded carrot, 1 small trimmed and thinly sliced fennel bulb, ½ cup of thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, 2 tsp. olive oil (again, 1500 calorie diet friendly), 1.5 tsp. vinegar and ¼ tsp. each of salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Mix well till all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Next, toast buns and place 2 slices of tomato on each bun.
- Place 1 portobello, 2 slices of goat cheese and 2 basil leaves on top of each bun. Serve with the carrot fennel slaw prepared before. Yields 4 servings.
One serving provides 345 calories, with 16 g fat, 15 g of protein and 38 g carbohydrates. A perfect lunch when on a 1500 calorie diet.
Get your share of fabulous fats with Fish
Grilled salmon with basil and tomatoes
This recipe is stunning in its simplicity. Whether you are inviting people over or want to have a healthy lunch for yourself, give this 30 minutes and you will have your time’s worth.
Time: 30 minutes
Garlic, kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, 1.5 pounds of wild salmon fillet, fresh basil, tomatoes, ground pepper.
- Preheat the grill to medium. Smash minced garlic (2 cloves) and ¾ tsp. salt with a spoon until a paste is formed. Next, remove all pin bones from the salmon.
- Coat a piece of heavy duty foil, large enough for the fillet, with cooking spray. The salmon is to be placed skin down on the foil. Apply garlic mixture all over it.
- Spread 1/3 cup of thinly sliced fresh basil over it. Overlap the slices of two medium tomatoes on top and sprinkle ¼ tsp. of salt and pepper.
- Grill the fish for 10 to 12 minutes until the fish flakes easily. Garnish with ¼ cup of basil. Makes 4 servings.
- It has 248 calories per serving, with 10 g fat, 3 g carbohydrates and 35 g protein.
Note: removing bones from the fillet might be a bit tricky. Use of tweezers or needle nose pliers is recommended.
This dish is appropriate even for people with diabetes. It is also low in gluten, saturated fat, and carbohydrates and high in potassium (23% daily value for a 1500 calorie diet).
Taco rice salad
Salads need not be boring and dull like they are made out to be. Salads with intelligent dressings can be filling as well as low in calories, making it an eligible candidate for a 1500 calorie diet.
Ground beef (1 pound), garlic clove, yellow rice, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, romaine lettuce, tomato, corn, red onion, reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese and black beans.
For the dressing:
Fat free sour cream, chili powder, Picante sauce, ground cumin.
- Coat the pan with cooking spray and put it over medium-high heat. Add garlic and beef and stir to crumble. Cook until browned (about 9 minutes).
- Drain and stir in 3 cups of cooked yellow rice along with a minced garlic clove, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder and ¼ tsp. each of salt and black pepper.
- Let it cool slightly. Mix 6 cups of torn lettuce, 3 cups of chopped tomato, 1 cup whole-kernel corn, and ½ cup chopped red onion and a can of rinsed and drained black beans in a bowl and toss well to combine.
- To prepare the dressing, combine 2/3 cup of fat free sour cream, 2/3 cup of Picante sauce, 1 tsp. chili powder and ½ tsp. cumin powder. Keep stirring with a whisk.
- Pour dressing over lettuce mixture and toss well. For assembling: place lettuce mixture, followed by rice mixture and top off with cheese. Each serving contains 1 1/3 cups of lettuce mixture, ¾ cup of rice and 1.5 tbsp. cheese.
Calorie-wise, this recipe is 360 calories, with 11.9 g fat, 21.1 g protein and 46.7 g carbohydrates.
Note: this easy one dish meal will be appreciated by kids and adults alike, whether they are on a 1500 calorie diet or not.
Just because you are on a 1500 calorie diet does not mean you can’t have desserts. Besides, indulging your sweet tooth by opting for healthier dessert options is often a smart choice as it reduces the risk of a sugar binge.
This recipe uses lots of replacement in a typical brownie recipe, without compromising the taste, so that you may afford to eat brownies even when on a 1500 calorie diet.
Flour, unsweetened cocoa, salt, butter, dark chocolate, granulated sugar, 1% low fat milk, vanilla extract, egg yolks, eggs and cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup cocoa and ¼ tsp. salt in a bowl and stir.
- Microwave 1/3 cup butter and 2 ounces of chopped dark chocolate at high for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds.
- Stir until smooth and set aside. Combine 1 cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup low fat milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 large egg yolks and 1 large egg and stir.
- Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cut into squares. Yields 16 squares.
At only 147 calories per serving, this is an excellent choice for a dessert in a 1500 calorie diet. One serving contains 6.1 g fat, 2.3 g protein and 22.4 g carbohydrate.
Shake it up smoothie style:
If you just don’t have the time, sometimes smoothies can be a great option to get your 1500 calorie diet day’s quota of fruits. Some of these contain vegetables as well and are a convenient way of packing in some good calories.
Banana, pineapple and coconut milk may be combined to make a pineapple pina colada. Berries like raspberries and blueberries can be teamed with cooked beets, orange juice and nonfat yogurt to make a refreshing drink.
Similarly, ginger and strawberries, watermelon and mint, and mango, avocado and lime go together.
If you are not a fan of dairy products, use dairy replacements. You can add honey if the natural sweetness of the fruits is not enough.
Note: add ice last to avoid making a runny drink. Frozen fruit contains the same nutrients as fresh fruits; just make sure you use those with no added sugar.
The smoothies lie in the 150-230 calorie range, perfect for a meal between meals in a 1500 calorie diet.
Moral of the story:
The most important recipe to success is to develop a healthy relationship with food. Trying to hit a 1500 calorie diet goal can be tricky.
Quitting things cold turkey will set you up for more failure in the future.
You do not always need to compromise your taste buds to achieve a great body. Bring in small changes and remember- things will get easier.