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Your favorite low-cal/healthy recipes and ideas (gluten-free or gluten-free adaptable, if possible)

After 6 months of living in Germany and indulging in too much rich food and, yes, beer, I've decided to revamp my (and my husband's) diet. We are both adventurous eaters and like very flavorful dishes. We have access to regular supermarkets and an Asian market that has a lot of pantry staples but little in the way of fresh vegetables. I'm willing to hit the farmer's market in sub-zero temperatures for special produce if the recipe is worth it.

While I'm sure there have been other threads on healthy eating, the other hitch is that I'm trying to go gluten-free starting this month. My husband and I also need to watch cholesterol, so vegetarian recipes are certainly welcome.

So, any great recipes up your sleeves?

(p.s. husband hates salmon; he's crazy, I know)

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  1. I frequent marksdailyapple.com, which has reliably gluten-free recipes on the site. Most of them could be adapted to be low calorie as well. I'd also check out hannaone's Korean recipes. Hope this helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: link_930

      Here's a direct link to Mark & Carrie's recipes. The soups are my fav.

    2. White Bean & Chicken Chili (about 300 cal/serving - makes 6+ servings)

      2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
      1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
      1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
      1 teaspoon celery seed
      1 tablespoon cumin
      2 teaspoons dried sage
      2-3 cloves chopped or crushed garlic
      1 pound ground white meat chicken (or turkey)
      1 can tomato paste (about 6 oz.)
      1 large can crushed tomatoes (about 28 oz. can)
      2 regular or 1 large can white beans, not rinsed (about 30 oz.)
      3-4 bay leaves
      fresh hot peppers w/ seeds & membranes, chopped fine, to taste
      chicken broth to desired consistency (I like mine a little soupy, so I start with ~2 cups)
      Salt to taste
      1 chipotle pepper in adobo

      In a large pot, low heat, sweat onions in oil until tender and translucent, add spices and stir until fragrant. Add meat and cook & break up until mostly done. Dump in everything else, adjust seasoning, cook on low for a couple of hours for flavors to marry. Check seasoning again.

      1. Lo-cal and healthy whole food cooking are a passion of mine. Have you cooked with quinoa before? It's GF and a vegetarian source of complete protein (has all the essential amino acids, like meat). Here's a nice warm bean & quinoa salad: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/1... . This Mexican quinoa recipe was inspired by a thread on this board: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/0.... This quinoa salad has chicken added, but has a light, citrusy flavor: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/0.... And another with chicken - simple flavors that kids might even like: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/0....

        I'm not GF, so brainstorming here . . . . What about lentils? This butternut squash w/lentils and walnuts is so delicious and out of the ordinary . . . you can reduce the amount of walnuts and make it lower calorie, but it's definitely healthy: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/1....

        Good luck!


        1. Great replies so far, thanks everyone. I'm still all ears! Especially appreciate specific recipes :)

          1. he's not crazy! i hate salmon too :-)

            soups tend to be flavorful and filling...

            Miso with Greens - i do a miso broth with greens (collards, kale, bok choy, mustards, etc.) and sliced wild mushrooms (portabellos, shiitakes, creminis, oysters, etc.) with garlic and some Bragg's amino acids, simmered til veggies are soft then I'll drizzle in some lightly beaten seasoned egg whites ( a la egg drop soup). You can easily add peppers, mustard powder, or whatever other seasonings you like.

            Lentil Soup - cook lentils with water, finely sliced/diced celery, finely shredded carrots, finely sliced/diced/chopped onion, canned tomatoes, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. so simple, so hearty and tasty.

            I used to make a Broccoli or Spinach souffle using well cooked veggies blended/processed with Lipton's onion soup mix, fat free ricotta cheese, a dollop of fat free or low fat sour cream, egg whites, white pepper, and occasionally other ingredients depending upon my mood. bake at 350 in a non-stick pam-sprayed pan.

            Frittatas made with egg whites and skim milk - 7 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 1/4 cup skim milk or so beaten together with a little parmesan-reggiano; cook some spinach, onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, eggplant... whatever you like really... put the veggies into muffin tins and pour egg mixture over. top with some gluten free bread crumbs or pieces and a little more cheese, then bake til golden.

            Bean Salad - kidney beans, garbanzos, black eyed peas, thyme, oregano, parsley, balsamic and olive oil all to taste...

            Mexican Strata - layer corn tortillas, black beans, chopped onions, green chiles, low-fat jack/cheddar cheeses; tomatoes, repeat in a casserole dish and bake til gooey. serve with low fat sour cream, healthy avocado, and salsa.

            Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos in corn tortillas - grill or broil mahi mahi with blackening seasoning; stir-fry up some onions, bell peppers, fajita veggies of choice, etc. using Pam and water if necessary, adding spices as desired. serve in shells with salsa, avocado slices and fat free sour cream.

            Quick Rice Pudding - stir cooked brown rice into cottage cheese, with some sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, then nuke til gooey.

            Ceviche - scallops, shrimp, red snapper, lemon juice, lime juice, red onion, salt, serano chilis, red tomato, oregano, and a little olive oil if desired. let marinate and "cook," then serve with cilantro and avocado if desired.

            Fish en papillote - layer fish of choice on a bed of onions, carrots and fennel on parchment paper along with some tarragon, salt and pepper; drizzle with a little white wine or olive oil or even broth, then fold up and bake til fish flakes.

            ...there is so much that's meets your criteria!

            1. Here are two websites that should give you some food for thought! The first is GF, and the latter is easily made so--


              Tons of glorious recipes and photos that make you want to eat whole foods!

              1. Thank you thank you, these are great. Keep them coming please :)

                1. I thought I'd post some recipes I've had success with as I go.

                  1) Vietnamese glass noodle salad (Nigella Lawson): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...

                  My changes: subbed cooked chicken breast for the shrimp, added chopped Thai basil and roasted peanuts. I didn't blanch the bean sprouts, either.

                  2) Persian Roasted Chicken with Cherries and Almonds: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pe...

                  My changes: This recipe needed major lightening up for my purposes. I skinned the chicken and baked it covered on top of the onion marinade. Reduced the water to 2 Tbsp. I also added 1 chopped shallot to the marinade. For the pilaf, I cut the butter to 3 Tbsp. and added 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Lots of salt and pepper. I also toasted the almonds for flavor. When the chicken was done, I strained the roasting juices and served them alongside. (Turns out I accidentally used whole coriander rather than cumin in this recipe...faulty translation...it still turned out very tasty).

                  1. Vegetable or bean soups: Chop 1 celery, 1 carrot, 1-2 cloves garlic and 1 onion and saute in a little oil until soft. Add chopped vegetable of your choice and just enough water to cover, simmer until vegetables go soft, then blend. For the best texture you can strain the soup but I generally find that too fussy. Some suggestions (amounts would serve 4):

                    2 potatoes, 2 large leeks and fresh thyme - if using this skip the onion, carrot and celery and simply saute the leeks

                    2 sweet potatoes, fresh ginger and a star anise - take out the star anise before blending

                    1 large head cauliflower and smoked paprika

                    7-8 medium carrots, cumin and coriander

                    1 head broccoli and 2 small potatoes (add in some shredded cheddar cheese while blending for a really tasty broccoli cheddar soup)

                    1 15 oz can canellini beans and fresh rosemary

                    For this amount of vegetables I usually add 2 cups of water and/or veggie or chicken stock. This gives a pretty thick soup which is the way I like it.

                    1. I mentioned elsewhere that I've been having trouble finding non-repetitive breakfast options. This morning I had chai-spiced millet pudding, which was a nice break from the routine and hearty on a cold morning! Plus millet has a lot of protein.

                      -3 1/2 c. milk simmered with about 8 cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, a dash of nutmeg, 1 whole star anise, 1/3 c. sugar, a couple coins of fresh ginger, and a few cloves.
                      -scant 3/4 c. millet
                      -1 tsp. vanilla
                      -1/4 c. raisins
                      -1/2 tsp. salt

                      Butter a medium-large gratin dish. Steep the spices in the sweetened milk and then strain out. Add vanilla to the spiced milk. Stir in the millet and raisins and pour into the gratin dish. Bake uncovered at about 340F for 1-1 1/2 hrs., stirring occasionally, until millet is creamy and tender.

                      If not eating right away, reheat in the microwave with about 1/4 c. water or milk (it sucks up all the liquid as it sits). Top with a pat of butter and enjoy.

                      1. Posting a good GF side---cucumber-walnut salad:

                        1/2-3/4 of an English cucumber, thinly sliced
                        1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped

                        juice and zest of up to one lemon
                        sugar, to taste
                        walnut oil, about 2 tsp.
                        olive oil, as needed
                        salt and pepper

                        Whisk together dressing ingredients, adjusting seasoning and acidity as needed. Add cucumbers and walnuts. Let sit at least 30 min. before serving.