5 Simple Low-Cal Dinners That AREN'T Salad

Sophie Miura

There are multiple factors that determine whether a meal is healthy or not, but one of the most universally recognized ways to make smarter meal choices is to pay attention to the calorie content, aka the units of energy contained in protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Calories allow us to see how much potential energy each meal or ingredient contains—and how much energy we need to exert to counteract it. 

The issue with typically low-calorie meals is that they don't fill you up. Thankfully, there is a solution that doesn't involve a cardboard-like diet bar. The answer is reaching for plant-based whole foods. "These foods have a lot more bulk since they contain more fiber and water than the standard American 'diet' foods," Dr. Alona Pulde, MD, tells MindBodyGreen. "This bulk takes up more space, so our stomachs end up stretching sufficiently to shut off hunger signals despite our having consumed fewer calories overall."

Heeding her expert advice, we've rounded up five hearty recipes that are full of flavor and whole foods, and contain less than 400 calories. Bookmark these dinner ideas to be healthy, not hangry. 

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