Healthy eats

Weekend survival guide: 3 low-calorie recipes to try

Jan. 13, 2012 at 12:57 PM ET

Michelle Hainer /

You might have stuck to your diet all week, but come the weekend, those cravings can be overpowering. Here, we share three recipes for dishes that will trick your taste buds into thinking you’re indulging, when in reality, you’re staying right on track.


Protein-packed Greek yogurt not only makes a nutritious snack, but its thick and creamy texture is ideal for cooking and baking. Nutrition expert Sophie Pachella, creator of Sophie Yogurt, a new line of Greek yogurt that contains no added sugar, often substitutes yogurt in her recipes. This one uses a combination of egg whites, yogurt and evaporated milk to create a decadent batter for French toast that’s low in fat and calories.

Yogurt French toast

  • 6 slices multigrain bread 
  • 1/2 cup Greek style yogurt, vanilla flavored
  • 1/4 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Beat egg whites, yogurt, evaporated milk, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Soak each slice of bread in egg mix, coating both sides well, and let sit for 20 minutes. Heat a skillet or griddle over high heat and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Cook each slice of soaked toast until golden brown (reduce heat while the toast is cooking to avoid having charred toast on the outside and raw egg on the inside). Serve warm and top with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries or pure maple syrup.

Nutrition per slice: 107 calories, 1 g fat, 15 carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 218mg sodium

If you’re just getting into grains, quinoa is an excellent start. It’s one of the easiest to prepare—it only takes about 15 minutes to cook—and it’s absolutely delicious. It’s also a complete protein and contains all of the essential amino acids a body needs. This preparation is one of my favorites because it’s just the right amount of sweet and savory. Quinoa can be cooked in water, but for extra flavor try using low-sodium chicken broth.

Michelle Hainer /

Quinoa with feta, walnuts and dried cranberries

Serves 6 as a side

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Note: In its natural state, quinoa is coated with saponins, a bitter substance that protects it from being eaten by birds and other predators. Most quinoa sold in North America has already been rinsed of the saponins, but if you want to be extra careful, soak the quinoa for five minutes or so in water and then drain before cooking.

Bring the chicken broth or water to boil. Add the quinoa, cover and turn the heat to low. Let simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add feta, walnuts and dried cranberries and gently stir to combine. Serve warm.

Nutrition: 188 calories, 9 g fat, 20g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 95mg sodium

Michelle Hainer /

General Tso’s chicken

General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese takeout option for good reason—it’s super tasty. But it’s also loaded with fat, calories, and sodium. This lighter version from Food & Wine calls for lightly coating the chicken in cornstarch and pan-frying it, rather than battering and deep-frying it. I made a slight modification, adding 1/4 cup more cornstarch and an extra egg white to the batter. The recipe is a bit labor intensive but definitely worth the effort. It’s so good, you’ll hardly miss those extra calories.

Nutrition: 228 calories, 7 g fat, 37 carbohydrates, 4g protein, 105mg sodium

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.