Quick & Easy Low Cal Dinner Recipes for Summer

Get inspired to make a lighter, healthier meal with my quick, low-calorie summer dinner recipes. Enjoy satisfying recipes for fresh salads, juicy grilled chicken, easy family dishes and more. Try my Thai Chicken Stir-Fry with Basil & Cashews for a flavor-packed weeknight dinner or Apricot Chile Glazed Salmon for a simple yet elegant dinner on the grill.

1.Thai Chicken Stir-Fry with Basil & Cashews

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This quick chicken stir-fry recipe is flavored with classic Thai ingredients: savory fish sauce balanced with tangy lime juice and plenty of fresh basil. Have all the ingredients prepared and ready to add to the wok before you turn on the heat. Serve with brown rice.

Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2 small fresh red chiles, thinly sliced (optional)
• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 2 teaspoons lime juice
• 2 teaspoons molasses
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1/2 cup toasted cashews
• 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil, preferably Thai

Preparation

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, flat-bottom, carbon-steel wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, scallions and chiles (if using); cook, stirring, until the scallions start to soften, about 30 seconds. Add garlic and zucchini and cook, stirring, until the zucchini is just tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk fish sauce, lime juice, molasses and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir the sauce and the chicken (along with any accumulated juice) into the pan; cook, gently stirring, until the sauce is bubbling and thickened, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in cashews and basil.

Nutrition

Per serving: 329 calories; 18 g fat (4 g sat, 9 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 2 g added sugars; 6 g total sugars; 28 g protein; 2 g fiber; 664 mg sodium; 649 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (37% daily value), Magnesium (24% dv), Potassium (19% dv), Iron (15% dv)
Carbohydrate Servings: 1

2.Seared Chicken with Lemon-Herb Cream Sauce

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In this healthy chicken recipe, chicken breasts are quickly pan-seared and then topped with a lemon-herb cream sauce. The healthy cream sauce recipe uses yogurt and actually contains no cream at all. The cream sauce also pairs well with seasoned pan-seared cod or salmon. Serve the chicken and sauce with steamed broccoli or green beans for a healthy dinner.
Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 3 oz. chicken & 2 Tbsp. sauce
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon, divided
• 2 8-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
• 2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon (see Tip) or 2 teaspoons lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation

1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once or twice, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
2. Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, yogurt, lemon (or zest), oregano, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Serve the chicken with the sauce.
Tips & Notes
• Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

Per serving: 202 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 64 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 4 g total sugars; 26 g protein; 0 g fiber; 236 mg sodium; 320 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 0

3.Korean Turkey Burgers with Kimchi

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Korean chile paste (also known as gochujang) blended into the ground turkey makes this turkey burger recipe incredibly moist and flavorful. Top these healthy turkey burgers with kimchi—a fermented mixture of cabbage and other vegetables—which can be found near other refrigerated Asian ingredients or near sauerkraut or pickles in well-stocked supermarkets or natural-foods stores.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

• 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
• 3 scallions, sliced
• 8 teaspoons Korean chile paste (see Tips), divided
• 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
• 4 small whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
• 12 slices English cucumber
• 1 cup kimchi

Preparation

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Combine turkey, scallions, 5 teaspoons chile paste and sesame oil in a medium bowl; gently knead together. Do not overmix. Form into 4 burgers, about 4 inches wide.
3. Oil the grill rack (see Tips). Grill the burgers until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise and the remaining 3 teaspoons chile paste in a small bowl. Assemble the burgers on toasted buns with 2 teaspoons of the mayonnaise mixture, 3 slices cucumber and 1/4 cup kimchi each.

Tips & Notes
• Tips: Knead Gently: Use your hands to mix ground turkey until just combined (wear gloves if you prefer). Overmixing makes the meat tough.
• Korean chile paste (also called hot pepper paste, gochujang or kochujang) is a fermented spicy condiment made from red chiles, soybeans and salt. Find it in Korean or Asian markets. Annie Chun’s, a widely distributed national brand of Asian foods, recently launched its own bottled gochujang sauce that is becoming increasingly available in large supermarkets. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator. To make a substitute, combine 2 tablespoons each white miso and Asian-style chile sauce, such as sriracha, and 2 teaspoons molasses.
• Oiling a grill rack before you grill foods helps ensure that the food won’t stick. Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to coat the food with cooking spray.

Nutrition

Per serving: 341 calories; 12 g fat (3 g sat, 1 g mono); 67 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrates; 7 g added sugars; 28 g protein; 5 g fiber; 731 mg sodium; 441 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Iron (17% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 2

4.Apricot-Chile Glazed Salmon

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This healthy apricot-chile glazed salmon recipe marries fruit and chiles to make this easy grilled salmon mouthwateringly special. Use jam rather than preserves for a smoother, prettier glaze. Look for New Mexico chili powder in well-stocked supermarkets, or substitute your favorite red chili powder.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons New Mexico red chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds center-cut wild salmon (see Tip), skinned
• 3 tablespoons apricot jam

Preparation

1. Preheat grill to medium-high. (No grill? See Oven Variation, below.)
2. Combine chili powder and salt in a small bowl. Rub onto both sides of salmon.
3. Place jam in a small saucepan; heat over medium heat, stirring, until melted.
4. Oil the grill rack. Grill the salmon 4 minutes, and then turn it over. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the salmon with the jam. Close the grill; cook until the salmon easily flakes with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes more. To serve, cut into 4 portions.
Tips & Notes
• 1. Wild-caught salmon from the Pacific (Alaska and Washington) is considered the best choice for the environment because it is more sustainably fished and has a more stable population. Farmed salmon, including Atlantic, should be avoided, as it endangers the wild salmon population.
• 2. Oven Variation: Prepare through Step 3. Bake in a shallow baking pan at 350°F, about 15 minutes.

Nutrition

Per serving: 215 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 66 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrates; 6 g added sugars; 29 g protein; 1 g fiber; 433 mg sodium; 613 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (29% daily value), Potassium (18% dv), omega-3s
Carbohydrate Servings: 1

5.Tuna & Bok Choy Packets

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Steaming fish and vegetables together in a tin-foil packet is a great way to keep the tuna moist and have little to clean up. If baby bok choy is not available, use 8 cups chopped mature bok choy for this quick fish recipe.
Makes: 4 servings, 3-4 oz. fish & 2 pieces of bok choy each
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup horseradish mustard
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, divided
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 2 baby bok choy, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1-1 1/4 pounds tuna, wild salmon, mahi-mahi or cod, skinned if desired, cut into 4 portions

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 475°F.
2. Combine mustard, 3 tablespoons parsley, water and pepper in a small bowl. Toss bok choy, oil and 2 tablespoons of the mustard sauce in a large bowl.
3. Cut four 20-inch sheets of foil. Arrange 2 bok choy quarters in the center of each piece, top with a portion of fish and 1 tablespoon of the remaining sauce. Bring the short ends of foil together, fold over and pinch to seal. Pinch the side seams together to seal the packets and place on a large baking sheet.
4. Bake the packets until the fish is opaque in the center, about 15 minutes (depending on thickness). When opening a packet to check for doneness, be careful of the steam. Serve, sprinkled with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

Nutrition

Per serving: 201 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 3 g mono); 46 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 30 g protein; 2 g fiber; 258 mg sodium; 1008 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (114% daily value), Vitamin C (63% dv), Potassium (29% dv), Iron (18% dv), Folate (15% dv)
Carbohydrate Servings: 0

6.Zesty Shrimp & Black Bean Salad

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Loaded with fresh tomatoes, peppers and cilantro and seasoned with cumin and chile, this shrimp and black bean salad recipe has all the flavors of a great fresh salsa and is a quick and easy no-cook recipe. Serve with tortilla chips or fresh corn tortillas.

Makes: 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile in adobo (see Tips), or more to taste
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp (see Tips), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
• 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
• 1 large poblano pepper or bell pepper, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped scallions
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle, cumin and salt in a large bowl. Add shrimp, beans, tomatoes, poblano (or bell pepper), scallions and cilantro; toss to coat. Serve room temperature or cold.
Tips & Notes
• Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
• Tips: Peppers, chipotle, in adobo sauce: Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapeños packed in a flavorful sauce. Look for the small cans with Mexican foods at large supermarkets. Once opened, they’ll keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.
• For shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices, look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as the Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught. To peel, grasp the legs and hold onto the tail while you twist off the shell. To devein, use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp. Remove the dark digestive tract (or “vein”) with the knife tip.

Nutrition

Per serving: 273 calories; 12 g fat (2 g sat, 8 g mono); 143 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 21 g protein; 6 g fiber; 410 mg sodium; 533 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (55% daily value), Folate (20% dv), Potassium & Vitamin A (16% dv)
Carbohydrate Servings: 1

7.Paprika-Herb Rubbed Chicken

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A simple combination of herbes de Provence, paprika, salt and pepper makes a flavorful rub for chicken, or try it with steak or tofu.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

• 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (see Notes)
• 2 teaspoons paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1-1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (see Notes)

Preparation

1. Combine herbes de Provence, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
2. Coat both sides of chicken with the rub up to 30 minutes before grilling or broiling.
3. Preheat grill to medium-high or position a rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.
4. To grill: Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the chicken, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 4 to 8 minutes per side.
5. To broil: Line a broiler pan (or baking sheet) with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place the chicken on the foil. Broil, watching carefully and turning at least once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 10 to 15 minutes total.
Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Store the rub in an airtight container for up to 3 months; coat the chicken with the rub up to 30 minutes before grilling or broiling.
Notes: Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs commonly used in the south of France. You can find commercial mixtures in well-stocked supermarkets, in the bulk spice section at some natural foods stores and/or gourmet markets. It’s also easy to make your own. Mix 1 tablespoon each (or equal proportions) dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and savory in a small jar. If desired, add a pinch of dried lavender and crushed aniseed.
• It’s difficult to find an individual chicken breast small enough for one portion. Removing the thin strip of meat from the underside of a 5-ounce breast—the chicken tender—removes about 1 ounce of meat and yields a perfect 4-ounce portion. Wrap and freeze the tenders and when you have gathered enough, use them in a stir-fry or for oven-baked chicken fingers. If you can only find chicken breasts closer to 8- to 9-ounce each, you’ll only need 2 breasts for 4 servings—cut each one in half before cooking.
Tip: Oiling a grill rack before you grill foods helps ensure that the food won’t stick. Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to coat the food with cooking spray.

Nutrition

Per serving: 127 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 23 g protein; 1 g fiber; 196 mg sodium; 223 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 0

8.Smoky Corn & Black Bean Pizza

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The secret to a grilled pizza is having all your ingredients ready to go before you head out to the grill. Make it a meal: Toss the extra black beans, diced tomato and some avocado with prewashed salad greens and tangy vinaigrette and dinner is on the table in no time.
Makes: 6 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

• 1 plum tomato, diced
• 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
• 1 cup fresh corn kernels, (about 2 ears)
• 2 tablespoons cornmeal
• 1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
• 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella, preferably smoked mozzarella

Preparation

1. Preheat grill to medium.
2. Combine tomato, beans and corn in a medium bowl. Sprinkle cornmeal onto a large baking sheet. Stretch the dough into about a 12-inch circle and lay it on top of the cornmeal, coating the entire underside of the dough.
3. Transfer the crust from the baking sheet to the grill. Close the lid and cook until the crust is puffed and lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Using a large spatula, flip the crust. Spread barbecue sauce on it and quickly sprinkle with the tomato mixture and cheese. Close the lid; grill until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Nutrition

Per serving: 316 calories; 6 g fat (3 g sat, 0 g mono); 13 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 14 g protein; 4 g fiber; 530 mg sodium; 94 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (15% daily value).
Carbohydrate Servings: 3

9.Thyme, Pork Chop & Pineapple Skillet Supper

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Thyme adds bright, woodsy flavor to pork and pineapple in this simple one-skillet supper. Serve with whole-grain rice pilaf and a baby spinach salad.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

• 3 tablespoons pineapple or apricot preserves or jam or orange marmalade
• 3 tablespoons orange juice, plus more if needed
• 2 teaspoons stone-ground or Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
• 4 fresh or canned pineapple rings (1/2 inch thick), cut in half, any juice reserved
• 2 teaspoons butter
• 4 4- to 5-ounce boneless pork loin chops (1/2 inch thick), trimmed
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (see Tip), divided
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

Preparation

1. If the preserves are chunky, chop any large pieces. Combine preserves (or jam or marmalade), 3 tablespoons orange juice, mustard, ginger and curry powder in a small bowl; set aside. Pour pineapple juice into a measuring cup; if necessary, add enough orange juice to equal 1/3 cup total. Set aside.
2. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops, sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Immediately turn them over and sprinkle with another 1/2 tablespoon thyme and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook the chops, turning occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the reserved juice to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the chops are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
4. Add pineapple, the reserved sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon thyme to the pan. Cook, stirring, until hot and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. To serve, spoon the sauce onto the chops and pineapple.
Tips & Notes
Tip: To remove thyme leaves from the sprig, hold each sprig at the top with one hand, then run the thumb and finger of the other hand down the stem to strip off the leaves.

Nutrition

Per serving: 257 calories; 8 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 72 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrates; 8 g added sugars; 22 g protein; 2 g fiber; 388 mg sodium; 434 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (78% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2

10. Turkey, Corn & Sun-Dried Tomato Wraps

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Fresh corn kernels, tomatoes and lettuce fill these hearty turkey wraps. This wrap is great for picnics or when you need to have dinner on the run. Add some crumbled feta or shredded Cheddar for another layer of flavor. Serve with carrot sticks, sliced bell pepper or other crunchy vegetables plus your favorite creamy dressing.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

• 1 cup corn kernels, fresh (see Tip) or frozen (thawed)
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
• 1/4 cup chopped soft sun-dried tomatoes (see Shopping Tip)
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
• 8 thin slices low-sodium deli turkey (about 8 ounces)
• 4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
• 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Preparation

1. Combine corn, tomato, sun-dried tomatoes, oil and vinegar in a medium bowl.
2. Divide turkey among tortillas. Top with equal portions of the corn salad and lettuce. Roll up. Serve the wraps cut in half, if desired.
Tips & Notes
Tip: To remove corn kernels from the cob, stand an ear of corn on one end and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife. One ear will yield about 1/2 cup kernels.
Shopping Tip: Look for soft sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed) in the produce section of most supermarkets. If you can only find dry (and hard) sun-dried tomatoes, soak them in boiling water for about 20 minutes before using.
Eat neat: Keeping the filling inside a wrap or burrito can be a challenge, especially if you’re on the go that’s why I recommend wrapping your burrito in foil so you can pick it up and eat it without losing the filling, peeling back the foil as you go.

Nutrition

Per serving: 321 calories; 12 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 35 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 19 g protein; 4 g fiber; 682 mg sodium; 325 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (47% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 2

I hope these recipes got you inspired!

And as always, I love hearing from you guys so if you have a comment or idea, please post it below!

Recipes from EatingWell.com
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3 thoughts on “Quick & Easy Low Cal Dinner Recipes for Summer

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