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Easy dinner recipes: 4 diet-friendly recipes under 200 calories

Dinner on a diet? It may sound tough but it's easy if you're prepared, even on a busy weeknight. Here are four suggestions to try, each clocking in at under 200 calories and under 15 grams each carbohydrates and fat per serving. Three of the recipes require a little advance planning to give the food time to marinate, but otherwise come together about an hour or less. Enjoy!

Kale salad, anyone? Because of its rather tough texture, greens like kale are often cooked to tenderize them before serving. But gently rubbing a bright vinaigrette onto the cut greens also works to soften their texture, making for a wonderfully fresh salad with crisp, assertive notes. Top it with a few grilled baby carrots for an extra touch of color, and you have a finished dish in under 30 minutes. Forget the guilt; I think it's rather virtuous.

Keep it light and bright with ceviche. Plump tiger shrimp are tossed with chopped onion, tomato and spicy habanero peppers, the flavors brightened with fresh lemon juice and a medley of spices. Sweet Butter was happy to share its take on this refreshing classic.

RECIPES: 71 quick and easy dinner ideas

Or try carne asada: It starts with a flavorful marinade, combining chipotle chiles, garlic, onion, cumin, fresh cilantro and parsley, a little tomato puree and fresh lime juice. Marinate the meat a day in advance, and then grill it up in minutes.

Skewers are fun: Marinate chicken in a tangy blend of yogurt, fresh herbs and spices, a touch of garlic and lemon juice, then thread the meat onto skewers. It's a perfect meal, whether you're simply feeding the family or entertaining guests.

You can find all four recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at


Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 2 to 4

Note: Adapted from Little Dom's in Los Angeles

Grilled carrots


4 baby heirloom carrots, peeled

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, pepper

1/4 teaspoon coarsely chopped oregano

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. In a small pot of salted, boiling water, blanch the carrots just until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and shock the carrots in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain and split lengthwise.

2. Toss the carrots in a bowl with the olive oil, one-eighth teaspoon salt, one-eighth teaspoon pepper, oregano and vinegar.

3. On a grill heated over medium-high heat, grill the carrots for grill marks and to warm through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Salad and assembly

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of ¼ orange

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped shallots

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and julienned

Grilled carrots

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon and orange juice, shallots, vinegar, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss in the kale, gently rubbing the dressing into the kale (the rubbing will soften the kale slightly).

2. Plate the salad, garnishing each serving with grilled carrots. Take any remaining dressing from the bottom of the bowl and pour over the carrots and salad. Serve immediately.

Each of 4 servings: 188 calories; 4 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 131 mg sodium.


Total time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time for the shrimp

Servings: Makes a generous quart of ceviche.

Note: Adapted from Sweet Butter in Sherman Oaks.

1 pound black tiger shrimp, tail-on

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 onion

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

2 to 3 tomatoes

1/2 to 1 habanero pepper, stemmed and seeded

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook just until they turn a light pink, about 1 minute. Drain immediately and place in an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking process.

2. Peel and coarsely chop the shrimp and place in a medium bowl. Toss the shrimp with the lemon juice and set aside for about 1 hour to marinate.

3. While the shrimp is marinating, chop the onion, cilantro, tomatoes and habanero pepper, and place in a large bowl.

4. After the shrimp has marinated (it should be whitish-pink and firm throughout), drain the shrimp, reserving the liquid. Add the shrimp to the large bowl. Stir in the cumin, pepper, oregano and garlic powder, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt. Taste, and add back a little of the strained lemon juice to brighten the flavors, and season again, if desired, to taste.

Each of 6 servings: 93 calories; 14 grams protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 121 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 636 mg sodium.


Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes plus overnight marinating time

Servings: 16

Note: From Joseph Martin, executive chef, Levy Restaurants at Dodger Stadium. At the stadium, the carne asada is served with corn tortillas, pico de gallo, tomatillo sauce, chopped onions, chopped cilantro, grilled whole serrano chiles and slices of lime.

4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 cup chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup tomato purée

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 1/2 pounds skirt steak

1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the chipotle, garlic, onions, cumin, green onions, cilantro, parsley, tomato purée, lime juice, salt, pepper and oil.

2. Rub the marinade all over the skirt steak, then place the steak in a large, resealable plastic bag with the marinade and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove the bag from the refrigerator one hour before grilling to allow the steak to come to room temperature.

4. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Grill the steak about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Set the steak aside until cool enough to handle, then cut it into a half-inch dice or slice it against the grain into 1-inch slices. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 151 calories; 14 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrate; 0 fiber; 10 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 32 mg. cholesterol; 157 mg. sodium.  

CHICKEN KEBABSTotal time: 35 minutes, plus 2 to 4 hours marinating
Servings: 6

Note: If you use wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water first.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2cup plain whole-milk yogurt

3 tablespoons chopped


1 tablespoon grated fresh


2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons canola oil,


1 teaspoon salt

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into

2-inch cubes

1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine the lemon juice, yogurt, cilantro, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and the salt. Stir in the chicken cubes, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

2. Prepare a fire in a grill or preheat the broiler. Remove the chicken cubes from the marinade and thread onto metal skewers. Brush the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place the skewers on the grill rack or on a broiler pan and grill or broil, turning occasionally, until the chicken is opaque throughout, 12 to 18 minutes. If using a grill, close the top for the last 5 minutes to ensure thorough cooking. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 192 calories; 31 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 84 mg. cholesterol; 172 mg. sodium.


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