Three Awesome Low-Cal Meals

Last week when Christa (of Tuff Girl) and I did a live Q&A, I made three super easy meals.

I'm always looking for ways to maximize nutrition in terms of protein, fiber, nutrients and satiety while making things taste good. Contrary what what many people gripe about (I am being playful here, don't attack me!) making food taste good isn't that hard.

In fact, sometimes the less you do, the better.  I often find new or inexperienced cooks try wild recipes that call for exotic ingredients, complex steps and long cook times that are a lot to take in.  Ever taste a really good steak?  Like, REALLY good?  All you need is kosher salt or sea salt. Start adding spices, rubs, marinades and all of a sudden the delicousness of the beef gets lost in a sea of flavors.

Likewise, sometimes simple recipes are "simply" not healthy (see what I did there?!).  Grabbing a pre-made pizza dough, adding shredded cheese, canned sauce, sliced pepperoni and chugging a beer is not hard or complex, but the food is loaded with calories and low on protein.

I'll admit, sometimes I like a complex recipe.  I've made a Turducken and it was amazing.  I also sometimes like food that has lots of calories.  See: previously mentioned Turducken:)

So we try to bridge the gap.  

I've got three recipes here, one of which is ridiculously easy and the other two pretty easy to moderate and you can use many of the same components!

Photo by bravobravo/iStock / Getty Images

Late-Night Dark Chocolate Oatmeal

If there's one thing I know about most people (predominantly women) it's that they love chocolate or feel good eating it.  There's physiological reasoning for that, too.  Not only does it contain antioxidants but it has good fats, trace minerals and can boost serotonin.  It's amazing what some cocoa or chocolate can do to dampen cravings.  I give full credit to my buddy Andrew for this one, I watched him put dark chocolate in oats many times before I gave it a whirl myself.  

Serves 1 very lucky person

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1 cup water

1 packet Stevia

1 pinch sea salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon (based on taste)

4 squares 85-90% cacao dark chocolate

-Simmer oats, water, cinnamon, salt and stevia together until thickened, about 5 minutes.

-Shove dark chocolate chunk directly into center of oats and push beneath surface with your spoon.

-Wait 2-3 minutes for the chocolate to melt, then dig in!  Molten chocolate oats!

-Serve alongside protein source like cottage cheese, greek yogurt, eggs or any other complete protein. (You can even stir in a scoop of whey).

Low-Carb Grass Fed Beef Pita

4 Joseph's low-carb pita's

1 spaghetti squash

1 pound grass fed beef, 90% lean

1/2 jar of store bought marinara (I bought Victoria's, it was quite good)

1/2 cup basil, torn into pieces

salt and pepper to taste

-Oven to 350.

-Cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out seeds and bake face-down on pan in oven, about 1 hour or until it shreds easily with a fork.  Cool and shred.

-Pan sear beef in a large skillet, when almost fully cooked, pour in the marinara and a pinch of salt and pepper.

-When beef is cooked and marinara is hot, stir in the spaghetti squash.

-Allow sauce to cool slightly. In the meantime, toast the pita's in the oven for 5-8 minute until crisp but not crunchy.

-Remove pita, cut into 1/4's and spoon sauce on each slice.  Sprinkle basil over the top.

Courtesy of Target!

Shredded Veggie and Beef Stir Fry

Serves 4

1/2 head green cabbage

1 yellow pepper

2 cups pre-shredded carrots

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled

1 lb of ground grass fed beef 90% lean

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

-Shred cabbage, pepper and ginger on a box grater. 

-Heat pan on high, add oil and stir fry veggies 2-3 minutes until slightly wilted but still crisp.  Mix in ginger and rice wine vinegar, then set aside.

-Return pan to heat and scramble beef until fully cooked.

-Mix in veggie mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and serving in big heaping piles!

Here's me enjoying the pitas!!!