250-Calorie Main Dishes

Start with a main dish that’s lower in calories, pair with simple roasted or steamed vegetables or a salad, and you’re on the road to a healthy dinner any night of the week.

Low-Cal Entrées with High-Octane Flavor

Photo: Beau Gustafson

Low-Cal Entrées with High-Octane Flavor

At Cooking Light, we’re not much for counting calories. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is all about balance. But there are times when counting on a lower-calorie main dish just makes sticking to a healthy eating plan easier. Start with any of these simple main dishes, all ringing in at 250 calories or less, and pair with a salad or steamed vegetable, and you can rest easy that a healthy meal waits at the end of the day.

Low-calorie for Cooking Light should never mean low-flavor, so we’ve stuck to our motto of “Making Healthy Taste Great” by adding small amounts of high-impact ingredients—like pancetta in this pizza—for maximum flavor.

View Recipe: Tomato-Mozzarella Pizza

Low-Cal Creole Cod

Photo: Jim Bathie

Creole Cod

The mildness of cod takes well to bold flavorings such as Dijon mustard and Creole seasoning. Lemon juice, added after cooking, brightens the flavor. Serve with steamed fingerling potatoes and warm cabbage slaw.

View Recipe: Creole Cod

Low-Cal Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping

Photo: Beau Gustafson

Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping

Broiling the flank steak keeps clean-up a synch and takes only 10 minutes. Let the steak stand while you heat the spicy tomato topping. Fill out the meal with orzo, and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs, if desired.

View Recipe: Broiled Flank Steak with Warm Tomato Topping

Low-Cal Pesto Halibut Kebabs

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Pesto Halibut Kebabs

Serve this dish with Israeli couscous tossed with toasted sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and chopped fresh parsley. If you can't find fresh halibut, substitute another mild, firm white fish. And change up the color palette by selecting red, orange, or yellow bell peppers.

View Recipe: Pesto Halibut Kebabs

Low-Cal Salsa Chicken

Photo: Randy Mayor

Salsa Chicken

Personalize this recipe by using your favorite tomato-based salsa. Or try a fruit salsa such as peach, cranberry, or pineapple. Serve with long-grain white rice.

View Recipe: Salsa Chicken

Low-Cal Baked Grouper with Chunky Tomato Sauce

Photo: Randy Mayor

Baked Grouper with Chunky Tomato Sauce

The grouper is seared to give it a slightly crisp crust that can hold up to the moisture from the tomato topping. Use a heavy oven-proof skillet that can go from stovetop to oven. To easily seed a tomato, cut it in half, hold each half in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently.

View Recipe: Baked Grouper with Chunky Tomato Sauce

Low-Cal Cumin-Coriander Sirloin Steak

Photo: Randy Mayor

Cumin-Coriander Sirloin Steak

The combination of cumin, coriander, and ground red pepper create a tasty rub for the beef. Brown sugar aids caramelization. Cooking the steak in a preheated cast-iron skillet seasons the steak without having to first brown it on the stovetop.

View Recipe: Cumin-Coriander Sirloin Steak

Low-Cal Sauteed Bass with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

Photo: Randy Mayor

Sautéed Bass with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

A robust combination of flavors from garlic, shiitake mushrooms, fresh ginger, soy, green onions, and dark sesame oil offer interesting, complex notes with little calories or fat. Serve with a spinach-and-mandarin orange salad for an elegant meal. Substitute snapper or rainbow trout for the bass, if you wish.

View Recipe: Sautéed Bass with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

Low-Cal Pepper and Garlic–Crusted Tenderloin Steaks with Port Sauce

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Pepper and Garlic–Crusted Tenderloin Steaks with Port Sauce

Although these steaks are simple enough for family weeknight meals, they’re good for company as well. Serve with long-grain and wild rice pilaf and steamed green beans.

View Recipe: Pepper and Garlic–Crusted Tenderloin Steaks with Port Sauce

Low-Cal Pan-Fried Sole with Cucumber and Tomato Salsa

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Pan-Fried Sole with Cucumber and Tomato Salsa

This simple pan-fried fish is brightened with a homemade fresh salsa. Any variety of sole or flounder will work in this recipe. Try lemon sole or butter sole. Finish the meal with simple roasted asparagus spears.

View Recipe: Pan-Fried Sole with Cucumber and Tomato Salsa

Low-Cal Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce

Photo: Lee Harrelson

Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce

Make even quicker work of pork tenderloin by slicing into 1-inch medallions and quickly cooking in a skillet. Serve with steamed green beans topped with toasted sliced almonds.

View Recipe: Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce

Low-Cal Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple-Pepper Relish

Photo: Randy Mayor

Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple-Pepper Relish

Fresh pineapple chunks, now widely available in supermarkets, speed the prep for this relish. Round out the menu with a romaine lettuce salad tossed with lime dressing. The zesty heat of Cajun spices combined with fresh, tropical fruit creates the perfect Mediterranean flavor.

View Recipe: Spicy Tilapia with Pineapple-Pepper Relish

Low-Cal Pork Tenderloin with Olive-Mustard Tapenade

Photo: Randy Mayor

Pork Tenderloin with Olive-Mustard Tapenade

A little bit of this tapenade adds a lot of flavor without taking the calorie and fat count way up. This quick entrée is great served with couscous and a tossed Greek salad topped with feta cheese.

View Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Olive-Mustard Tapenade

Low-Cal Broiled Red Snapper with Ginger-Lime Butter

Photo: Randy Mayor

Broiled Red Snapper with Ginger-Lime Butter

This simple recipe is perfect for hurried weeknights. Sweet, tangy, and spicy, the herbed butter also goes well with shrimp, lobster, sautéed chicken, or beef.

View Recipe: Broiled Red Snapper with Ginger-Lime Butter

Low-Cal Spiced Chops with Mango-Mint Salsa

Spiced Chops with Mango-Mint Salsa

Allspice and mango bring Caribbean flair to this dish. The salsa, redolent of mint, also packs a bit of heat thanks to a dusting of crushed red pepper. If you can afford the extra calories, a Jamaican beer, such as Red Stripe, would complement this meal. Or choose from our picks for the best light beers.

View Recipe: Spiced Chops with Mango-Mint Salsa

Low-Cal Peanut-Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Photo: Howard L. Puckett

Peanut-Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Pick up a container of fresh pineapple chunks in the produce section of the supermarket; chop into 1/2-inch pieces for the salsa. Serve with steamed broccoli and warm rolls to complete this 20-minute dinner.

View Recipe: Peanut-Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

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