DIET-FRIENDLY RECIPES

8:34 AM

I have been trying so hard to plan out my meals and I am so thankful to be able to find such healthy and easy to whip up dishes online. Here are some of my diet-friendly recipes (from Women's Health magazine online) that will not rob you off three hours of your gym time:

Spicy Lime Tilapia

This low-cal dish uses spice to flavor the mild fish. Not only will it taste better, but it turns out that capsaicin (the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality) also fires up your metabolism. Eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body's production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight-or-flight response), according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology .

Ingredients:
• Olive oil
• Red-pepper flakes
• Baby spinach
• Asparagus tips
• Tilapia fillets
• Scallions
• Lime

STEPS: To make chili oil, combine the olive oil and the red-pepper flakes in a small bowl and microwave it on high for 30 seconds. Set it aside. For each serving, lay an 18-inch length of aluminum foil flat on a work surface and arrange half the spinach and six asparagus tips in the center. Place a fillet on top, and top the fillet with half the scallion pieces, half the chili oil, and the juice from a lime quarter. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Fold the foil up and over the food, crimping the edges closed and creasing the sides to form a tent. Bake in a 450°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 2 servings

Seafood and Mushroom Pasta

You might pay $15 for this dish at a gourmet restaurant, but you can prepare it yourself for much less. This recipe serves four, so if there aren't that many of you eating, count on bringing leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Talk about a bargain.

Ingredients:
• Olive oil
• Baby clams
• Shrimp
• Mushrooms
• Tomatoes
• Garlic
• Dill
• Whole-wheat linguine
• Parmesan cheese

STEPS: Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the clams, shrimp, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and dill. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the juice from the tomatoes evaporates a bit. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the linguine according to package directions. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Add the shellfish mixture and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with the cheese and additional dill, if using, and serve.

Quick Burritos

You can't really go wrong with the Mexican classic. But don't let this ultimate comfort food be a diet buster—substitute lean ground beef or ground turkey to make the meal low-fat.

Ingredients:
• Ground beef
• Red bell pepper
• Taco seasoning
• Whole-grain tortillas
• Monterey jack or cheddar cheese
• Romaine lettuce
• Diced tomatoes
• Salsa
• Olive oil

STEPS: Cook the beef in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until browned. Add the red pepper and continue to cook, stirring, until softened slightly. Add the taco seasoning and water, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the pepper slices are al dente. Place a tortilla on a f lat surface. Spoon 2 scoops of the beef mixture on the bottom one-third of the tortilla. Layer on cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa, being careful not to overload the tortilla. Fold the left and the right sides of the tortilla inward 1 inch, and then, starting from the bottom, roll up the tortilla until the seam is down. Repeat to make additional burritos. Using a napkin or a paper towel, rub the olive oil on the bottom of a saute pan. Heat on medium-high until hot but not smoking. Place the burritos, in batches if necessary, in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 3 to 4 minutes longer, until heated through and browned.

Beef and Broccoli

The protein in the beef and fiber in the broccoli make this dish a nutritional powerhouse. Serve with rice to complete this well-rounded meal. (I would not want rice in my diet though, so I am skipping it)

Ingredients:
• Cornstarch
• Beef broth
• Light soy sauce
• Oyster sauce
• Vegetable oil
• Boneless sirloin steak
• Broccoli florets
• Garlic
• Onion

STEPS: In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, and oyster sauce and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Warm the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the steak and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the beef is browned. Transfer to a covered bowl to keep warm. Add the broccoli, garlic, and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender. Add the broth mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat, add the beef, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Easy Parchment-Baked Halibut

Loaded with omega-3s, this meal boosts heart health and is low in fat and calories.

Ingredients:
• Onion
• Red bell pepper
• Yellow bell pepper
• Olive oil
• White wine
• Oregano
• Parsley
• Halibut steaks

STEPS: Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small nonstick skillet, saute the onion and peppers in the oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the wine, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper, and simmer for 4 minutes, adding a little more wine to moisten (if necessary). Remove the skillet from the stove, and set aside. On a flat surface, measure four pieces of parchment or aluminum foil to wrap the steaks. Cut the paper 3 4" longer than the steak and 2 1/2 times the width. Brush 1 side of each paper with oil. Lay a steak slightly off center on each piece of paper, and spoon one quarter of the vegetable mixture on top. Fold the paper over the steak. Fold or crimp the ends together to make a sealed packet. Repeat with each of the remaining steaks. Place the packets on a baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes. (Thicker steaks will require additional cooking time.) Carefully transfer the packets to serving plates. Cut open just before serving.

Grilled Salmon with Citrus Salsa


Fresh and flavorful, the salsa is a lovely blend of orange, olive, onion, and fennel—delicious atop grilled salmon. To save prep time, look for pitted olives; they're often available in the olive bar.

Ingredients:
• Sherry vinegar
• Olive oil
• Orange
• Kalamata olives
• Red onion
• Fennel
• Oregano
• Parsley
• Salmon fillets

STEPS: Place the vinegar in a large bowl and whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in the orange, olives, onion, fennel, oregano, and parsley. Set aside. Heat a ridged nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the salmon with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Cook the salmon, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking and turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Remove the salmon from pan and place on a serving platter. Spoon over the salmon.

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