9 Healthy & Delicious Dinner Ideas for Weight Loss
One-fifth of Americans set a New Year’s resolution in 2023 to “improve their physical health,” and another 18% wanted to eat healthier or lose weight.1 Achieving weight loss is directly linked to better eating habits and a healthier lifestyle.
What you eat plays a bigger role in how much weight loss you can accomplish compared to the amount of exercise needed to burn off any extra calories.
Roughly speaking, one pound equals 3,500 calories. Health experts recommend combining exercise and healthier eating and drinking habits to achieve this calorie deficit. A 500-calorie deficit is recommended daily to accomplish a pound of weight loss per week.2 This is achieved more effectively if the deficit comes primarily from improved eating habits. Additionally, lowering carbohydrate intake while increasing protein intake helps with long-term weight loss into the six- and twelve-month range.
Preparing fresh and appealing healthy dinner ideas doesn’t have to be complicated or unappetizing. Of course, there is a learning curve, but after a couple of weeks of altering your dinner meals, you will notice that cooking healthier becomes a habit. Cooking healthier meals at home helps offset rising food costs, enables you to follow diet or allergy restrictions, and assists with weight loss.
Here are nine tasty and healthy meals you should try to help you to lose weight.
1. Sriracha Chicken Lettuce Wraps
This fun veggie-filled meal is a favorite at many restaurants, but you can make it at home. This meal is paleo and keto-friendly. You might already have many ingredients in your pantry, which is an excellent option for beginner cooks. Lettuce wraps are a quick weeknight meal taking about 25 minutes. This sriracha chicken lettuce wrap recipe serves four and is an easy weight-loss dinner.3
Nutrition Information per serving: 264 calories, 5 g carbs, 21 g protein, 18 g fat, 633 mg sodium, 1g fiber, 2g sugar
- 1-pound ground chicken breast or chopped skinless chicken thighs
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Fresh lettuce leaves (10 -12 bibb, butter, or romaine)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When heated, add oil, stir in the garlic and onions, and cook until translucent, about 1 minute.
- Add chicken and cook until browned. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha hot sauce. Stir well until sauces are combined.
- Add celery and cook for about 5 minutes or until everything is combined well.
- Pour chicken filling into a bowl and cool, then top with fresh cilantro.
- Serve on fresh lettuce leaves.
2. Black Bean-Quinoa Bowl
Try this protein and fiber-rich bowl if you love tacos or taco salad. You can prep ahead for busy weeknights. This filling meal is also vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian. You only need 10 minutes to prepare this meal, requiring no cooking. That’s faster than a drive-through or takeout restaurant.
Pairing fiber and protein with carbohydrates will keep you full longer and prevent blood glucose spikes. This recipe would be a great post-workout meal with high-fiber carbohydrates and protein. This black bean quinoa bowl recipe serves one.4
Nutrition Information per serving: 500 calories, 73.6 g carbs, 20.4 g protein, 16.2 g fat, 612 mg sodium, 19.6g fiber, 10.7 g sugar
- ¾ cup canned black beans, rinsed
- 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup hummus
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ medium avocado, diced
- 3 tablespoons pico de gallo (or salsa of choice)
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine beans and quinoa in a bowl.
- Stir hummus and lime juice in a small bowl; thin with water to desired consistency.
- Drizzle the hummus dressing over the beans and quinoa.
- Top with avocado, pico de gallo (or salsa), and cilantro.
- To make ahead: Assemble the bowl up to 1 day in advance, with dressing on the side. To prevent the avocado from browning if making ahead, toss with a squeeze of lime juice after dicing.
3. Zucchini Crust Pizza
Zucchini crust boosts your vegetable and fiber intake. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy pizza? This recipe allows you to enjoy pizza at home while cutting calories. The recipe can be altered to be egg-free and gluten-free. You need 20 minutes of prep time and 25 minutes of cook time. This pizza recipe serves six.5
Nutrition Information per slice: 188 calories, 12 g carbs, 14 g protein, 10 g fat, 514 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar
- 2 cups shredded zucchini (1 to 1-1/2 medium), squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup egg substitute or 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 small tomatoes, halved and sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup julienned bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- Chopped fresh basil, optional
- Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients; stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
- Transfer to a 12-inch pizza pan coated generously with cooking spray; spread to an 11-inch circle.
- Bake until golden brown, 13-16 minutes.
- Reduce oven setting to 400°. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese; top with tomatoes, onion, pepper, herbs, and remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Bake until the edge is golden brown and the cheese is melted for about 10-15 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil, if desired.
4. Chili-Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Try something a little spicy this week. If you are not up for too much spice, substitute poblano peppers with bell peppers. This filling meal is gluten-free and low-carb. This meal takes 30 minutes from start to finish, helps with weight loss, and serves four.6
Nutrition Information per 2 stuffed pepper halves: 496 calories, 17 g carbs, 40 g protein, 30 g fat, 913 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar
- 1-pound lean ground turkey (93% lean)
- 1 can (15 ounces) chili without beans (or leftover chili)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 4 large poblano peppers or bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat broiler. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook turkey, crumbling meat, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes; drain. Add chili and salt; heat through. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese, tomato, and green onions.
- Meanwhile, cut peppers lengthwise in half; remove seeds. Place on a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan, cut side down, and brush with oil. Broil 4 inches from heat until skins blister, about 5 minutes.
- With tongs, turn peppers. Fill with turkey mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes longer.
5. Greek Chickpea Salad
This Mediterranean-style dish will fill you with vegetables, fiber-rich beans, and heart-healthy fats. You could add leftover shredded baked chicken for even more protein. This meal is gluten-free and lower carb. This quick meal is ready in 15 minutes and stores well in the refrigerator for easy leftovers. This meal can be vegan-friendly by omitting cheese and meat. This salad recipe serves six.7
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 English cucumber, halved and sliced into coins
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- ¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained and halved
- ¼ cup silvered red onion
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar, optional
- Add the drained chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion, half of the feta cheese, and the dill in a large bowl.
- Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar.
- Toss gently and add the rest of the feta cheese. Adjust seasoning and serve or refrigerate overnight.
Nutrition Information per serving: 229 calories, 7 g carbs, 5 g protein, 21 g fat, 976 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar
6. White Bean & Sun-Dried Tomato Gnocchi
This flavorful vegetarian one-pot meal is ready in less than 30 minutes. Many items are shelf-stable, so you can keep this meal handy for a busy weeknight. This one-pot comfort meal serves four.8
- ½ cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes plus 1 tablespoon oil from the jar, divided
- 1 large shallot, minced
- ⅓ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 12 ounces gnocchi
- 15-ounce low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 ounces of baby spinach
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves chopped
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil from the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sun-dried tomatoes and chopped shallot; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, and cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add beans and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in cream, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat with the sauce. Serve topped with chopped basil.
Nutrition Information per serving: 370 calories, 59 g carbs, 14 g protein, 10 g fat, 590 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 2 g sugar
7. Sheet-Pan Tilapia and Vegetable Medley
Sheet pan meals are healthy and have the bonus of quick clean-up. This pescatarian meal helps you get a high-protein and high-fiber meal. Combining fiber and protein with carbohydrates will prevent blood glucose spikes and speed up weight loss. This recipe serves two.9
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into wedges
- 3 large fresh Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
- 3 large radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- Optional: Lemon wedges and tartar sauce
- Preheat oven to 450°. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil; grease foil.
- In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add melted butter, garlic salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Place vegetables in a single layer in a prepared pan; bake until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven; preheat broiler. Arrange vegetables on one side of the sheet pan. Add fish to the other side. Sprinkle fillets with tarragon and salt; dot with softened butter. Broil 4-5 in. from heat until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes.
- If desired, serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.
Nutrition Information per serving: 555 calories, 56 g carbs, 41 g protein, 20 g fat, 892 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 8 g sugar
8. Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
If you love tacos, try this spin with salsa verde. This filling meal is paleo-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free (if cheese is omitted), and fiber-rich. These tacos take about 50 minutes to prepare, so this might be a better weekend meal, or you could prep the chicken ahead to save 20 to 30 minutes. Additionally, this meal makes for tasty leftovers and serves four.10
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed or canola oil
- 1½ pounds (4 to 5) bone-in chicken thighs with skin
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup medium-heat store-bought or homemade roasted tomatillo salsa/salsa verde
- 1 large yellow or white onion, cut into ¼-inch slices
- 2 poblano peppers sliced lengthwise, de-seeded, and cut into ¼-inch strips
- 1 small handful of torn cilantro leaves
- 8 small soft corn tortillas or corn-wheat combination or flour tortillas
- Toppings: 4-5 ounces crumbled feta cheese, 3-4 baby radishes trimmed and thinly sliced, ripe avocado chunks, fresh cilantro leaves, optional hot sauce
- Prepare the salsa verde chicken: Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large (preferably straight-sided) skillet.
- Sear the chicken thighs (in batches, if necessary) skin-side down for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the thighs and carefully pour the chicken broth and salsa into the pan. Bring the liquid to a low simmer and braise the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes or until fork tender.
- Using tongs, remove the thighs to a large plate or bowl. Bring the liquid in the pan to a low boil. Add the sliced onion and poblano pepper to the pan and cook, stirring every few minutes, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and the liquid has reduced by half. Shred the chicken thighs into small pieces using forks, discarding any bones and skin. Reduce the heat to low and add the shredded chicken to the pan with the vegetables, stirring the mixture until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add the torn cilantro leaves. Keep warm over low heat while you prepare the tortillas and toppings.
- Char and warm the tortillas: Line a large plate or bowl with a clean kitchen linen. Turn your gas burner over to medium heat. You could use two burners at once to speed this process up or do them one at a time. Place one tortilla directly over the flame and heat for 15 to 25 seconds per side, flipping them with tongs or until lightly charred on both sides. Transfer the warm, charred tortillas to the kitchen linen as you work and cover them to keep warm.
- Assemble: Spoon the chicken mixture into the warm tortillas. Top with a generous sprinkle of feta cheese and several sliced radishes. If using, finish with cilantro and a dash or two of hot sauce. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information per serving: 594 calories, 49 g carbs, 33 g protein, 33 g fat, 1018 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 9 g sugar
9. Green Goddess Salad with Chickpeas
This salad is gluten-free, low-carb, and protein-rich. Adding vegetables and chickpeas provides extra fiber for this satisfying salad. Fiber and protein help you to stay full and lose weight. You can make this for dinner and bring leftovers for lunch the following day. This recipe makes four entrée size salads.11
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, tenders removed
- ¼ cup cold water
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar, divided
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning herb mix
- 1 teaspoon salt divided
- ½ avocado, skin, and pit removed
- 1/3 cup non-fat buttermilk
- 4 teaspoons sesame tahini sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon, optional
- 8 cups spring greens, washed and spun dry
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into paper-thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- ½ European cucumber, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Place garlic cloves in a large re-sealable bag, press air out, and seal the bag. Smash garlic with the smooth side of a meat mallet. Open the bag and add chicken breasts. Press air out of the bag and reseal. Pound meat through the bag until the thickest part of the breast is level with the thinnest, about 3/4 -inch thick. Open the bag again and add tenders, ¼ cup water, 3 tablespoons vinegar, Italian herb mix, and ½ teaspoon salt. Press out air, reseal the bag, and agitate until the chicken is coated in the herb-garlic mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Oil grill rack. Grill chicken until no longer pink in the center, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into chunks.
- Puree avocado, buttermilk, 1 tablespoon vinegar, tahini, chives, parsley, tarragon, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a mini prep or food processor until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.
- Arrange greens in four bowls. Top with carrot, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, and chicken. Drizzle dressing over the salads and serve.
Nutrition Information per serving: 321 calories, 19 g carbs, 37 g protein, 11 g fat, 740 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 6 g sugar
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