Fit and Happier Recipes: Entrees Under 400 Calories

Last week, I announced my decision to download the MyFitnessPal app to help me better track my daily calorie consumption.  Because I cook from scratch for most of our family meals, I especially appreciate the recipe feature available on MyFitnessPal’s website.  The feature allows me to enter the amount of each ingredient in my recipes and the program will calculate the amount of calories per serving for me.  I didn’t know the exact calorie counts for most of my go-to recipes.  So, I’m happy to have them now and share a few of them that clock in under 400 calories per serving.

These entrée recipes were given to me by family members and their originations have long since been forgotten.  I suspect they were printed in newspapers or magazines sometime in the 70s and 80s.  In both cases, I’ve tweaked them over the years to boost fiber and micronutrients while finding ways to cut saturated fat and calories.

Baked Fish Cakes

This is a recipe my mom made often when I was a child.  It is an inexpensive way to incorporate heart-healthy fish into your diet.  My mom’s recipe titled them Baked Tuna Croquettes but I alternate between using tuna and salmon.  The use of milk, lemon and a little mayo cuts the fishy taste and that along with an eye-appealing patty and crunchy exterior makes these kid-friendly.  This is a dinner favorite for both of my girls.  (It’s a fun, easy recipe to make with your kids as well.)  A serving of 2 fish cakes is 304 calories.

– In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped & sautéed until translucent in olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil mayonnaise
  • 3 cans (5 oz each) white albacore tuna packed in water or 2 cans (6 oz each) no salt added salmon; be sure to completely drain the fish before placing in the bowl; break up the fish with a fork
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

– Pour 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs into a separate small, shallow bowl.

– Split fish mixture into 8 equal parts, form each part into a ball; roll each ball in bowl of bread crumbs to coat and place onto baking sheet.

– Press each ball into baking sheet with the palm of your hand to form a patty.

– Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve with lemon wedges.

These cakes can be served with a side salad dressed with my balsamic vinaigrette for under 400 calories.  You can add 1/2 cup of my oven roasted potatoes for a satisfying meal under 500 calories.

Spinach & Kale Pie

This recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law soon after I got married.  It’s a riff on the Greek favorite spanakopita with easy-to-work-with puff pastry dough filling in for high-maintenance layers of phyllo dough.  Even though the dough is buttery rich, a serving of this pie is a manageable 385 calories.  The original recipe calls for all spinach but my youngest daughter prefers this made with kale while my oldest prefers the original.  I’ve compromised to use half of each.  But you can use all kale, all spinach, or any combination of sturdy greens.  Some alternatives are turnip, mustard, beet, chard or collard greens.

– Thaw 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough (such as Pepperidge Farms) according to package directions; re-wrap second sheet and keep in freezer for later use.

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees

– Sautee the following in olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper and transfer to large mixing bowl:

  • 6 oz of washed spinach (sautee until wilted)
  • 6 oz of washed, chopped kale (sautee until wilted)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (sautee until translucent)
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic (sautee lightly, careful not to burn)

– Add the following to the bowl of greens, onion and garlic and mix thoroughly:

  • 1/4 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

–  Lightly flour a clean counter top and roll out puff pastry sheet into thin (1/8″) rectangle.  Place pastry onto baking sheet so that one short side of pastry is parallel to long side of baking sheet – when done correctly, half of the pastry is on the pan and the other half is hanging off the side.

– Scoop greens and cheese mixture onto the half of the pastry that is in the pan.  Leave a one-inch edge of pastry around the greens.  Spread the greens mixture out evenly.  Fold the other half of the pastry over the greens mixture so that the three edges of the two halves of the puff pastry meet.  Spread cold water with your finger along the edges of the pastry where they will meet – this will help the pastry adhere and seal shut.  Press the edges of the pie together around all three sides.  (The pie should look like a free formed rectangle where one long edge is a fold and the other 3 edges are where the top and bottom layers of pastry are crimped together.)  Poke top of pie with a fork in several places to vent.  For a beautiful presentation, lightly brush top of pie with an egg wash.

– Bake the pie at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden brown.  Slice into 5 equal servings.

The hearty greens and rich cheeses and dough make this filling enough to make a meal.  But you could serve this with 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice mixed with 2 Tblsp black beans for a 515 calorie meal.

Yum!  Enjoy!

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