Included recipes: Tuna Salad, Instant Pot Mini Frittatas
The problem with calorie counting is having to figure out the calories for everything in every meal. It’s measuring and/or weighing every damn thing. Tedious and just not sustainable over the long haul. But it’s essential to know what you are consuming if you want to lose weight or just maintain. What IS easy is counting the total calories once for a recipe, just looking at the ingredient containers (or doing a quick online search for ingredients like fresh veggies) and then dividing that recipe into as many servings as needed to meet your desired calorie count for an individual meal or snack. Here’s an example:
Tuna Salad Sandwiches
(prep time: under 10 minutes)
- 1 large (5 oz) can white albacore tuna: 300 cal (total, not per serving)
- 2 stalks chopped celery: 12 cal
- 2 TBS chopped red onion: 20 cal
- 3 TBS sweet pickle relish: 45 cal
- ⅓ cup Chobani plain fat-free yogurt: 40 cal
- 1 TBS chopped jalapeno peppers: 3 cal
- Salt to taste
Total calories: 420 cal. Divide by 5 servings: 84 cal each (well loaded sandwiches – no skimping!)
2 slices whole wheat bread: 120 cal + 84 = 204 calories per sandwich. Make it easy, call it 200. Close enough and easier to add.
To make: Put all that stuff in a bowl and mix. Store in a tight container and refrigerate.
Make it once, count it once, have 5 days of lunches. You already know the calories count of each so no more figuring. (I do not recommend making sandwiches in advance, of course – just the salad part – unless you want a soggy bread mess.)
Instant Pot Mini Frittatas
(prep time under 10 minutes, not counting cooking time which you can forget about and go do something else since the Instant Pot takes care of that. No attention required!)
- 6 large eggs, beaten: 468 cal (78 cal per egg)
- 8 oz package of diced ham: 320 cal
- 1 chopped roma tomato: 35 cal
- 3 TBS chopped red onion: 30 cal
- 2 TBS chopped jalapeno peppers: 6 cal
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: 4 TBS shredded sharp cheddar cheese: 147 cal
Total calories: 1006. Divide by 4 servings: 252 cal each. Without cheese, each serving is 215 calories. (I think the cheese is worth it. You may not.)
- Spray 4 ramekins with non-stick spray really well ‘cuz eggs stick like the devil.
- Divide ham evenly-ish between ramekins.
- Top with the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos and pour beaten eggs over, stirring each a little to mix.
- Top each with about a tablespoon of cheese, or not, up to you.
- Cover each with foil.
- Place a cup or two of water in the Instant Pot and place ramekins on the metal trivet thingie with two on the bottom and two at 90% angle on top.
- Use the manual setting for 12 minutes at high pressure then slow release for about 10 minutes or whenever. It will wait for you. Go do something fun.
- Cool and place covered in the fridge.
Remove the foil (!) and nuke for about a minute when ready to eat. Top with salsa for more yum, if desired, which only adds like 5 calories.
Substitute and/or add anything you want to your individual taste, adjusting calorie count accordingly. Make your mouth happy!
Make it once, count it once, and have 4 days of delicious hot breakfasts (or lunch, dinner, late night feed-me…).
To ensure I get my green leafies and other healthy veggies every day, I make 4 or 5 salads at once (depends on how far a head of leaf lettuce goes) using my smaller bowl containers. Doesn’t take any more time than making one and I always have a fresh salad in the fridge ready to put dressing on and eat. My favorite salad includes green leaf lettuce, roma tomatoes, chopped red onions, shredded carrots, and feta cheese. I use Kraft or Ken’s Olive Oil Balsamic vinaigrette (60 cal per 2 TBS) to get my healthy serving of olive oil every day and because it’s delicious and satisfying. 150 calories per salad.
Make it once, count it once, and have 4 – 5 days of salads.
You might notice a number of the same ingredients in all of these, like chopped onions and tomatoes. Spend less time, including clean-up, like maybe 20 minutes total, to make all of them at the same time and you have at least 4 days of breakfasts, sandwiches, and salads. If you’re curious, this ham, egg, and cheese breakfast AND lunch of tuna salad sandwich and garden salad with feta cheese and olive oil dressing comes to… wait for it… 606 delicious, wholesome calories. Less than a single Burger King Whopper (630 calories) without cheese and no fries. 20 minutes. Just sayin’.
This same technique works for entrees with even greater benefits, especially if you’re single. Most recipes make 4 to 6 servings or more and few really reduce down to successfully making only one or two servings. (Like, how do you do half an egg?) Who wants to throw out good food because it made a whole lot more than you can eat before it spoils? This is where the freezer/microwave-safe containers come into play. Make a meal once, whatever it is, then immediately divide it up into however many individual meal containers you need. Eat one, freeze the rest for future meals. After a little while, with only cooking a couple of times a week or less, (and some weeks not at all beyond throwing some salads together), you will have a nice menu selection* in your freezer, knowing the calorie count of each one which you control. All you have to do is pop it in the microwave to heat when you want it. The containers are very stackable so even a small freezer like mine will hold a good selection.
*Just a fun aside… I recently had a friend over for a Guardians of the Galaxy double feature. I asked her what she would like for lunch, offering a choice of spicy red beans and rice with turkey sausage; whole wheat pasta pomadoro with meatballs; chicken enchiladas suizas with Mexican rice; or BBQ chicken with brown rice and peas ‘n’ carrots. Boy, was she impressed! She didn’t have to know each filling, satisfying entree was 400 calories or less (my chosen count – yours can be anything you want it to be). I promise she didn’t think she was eating “diet food”! Because she wasn’t.
I hope you’re seeing that you don’t have to spend all your free time in the kitchen in order to eat wonderfully yummy home-cooked food every day. You don’t even have to know how to cook. I’ll walk you through that – the above recipes are about as hard as it gets. There’s nothing I will toss at you here that requires any special knowledge, effort, or freaky ingredients. Frankly, if it did, I wouldn’t do it! I also welcome (more than I can express) your recipes and ideas. Let’s do this together!
By the way, a lovely 5 oz glass of Merlot is only 125 calories. Cheers!