5 Super Easy Dinners That’ll Help You Lose 5 Pounds

Can you guess the secret ingredient they all share?

Losing weight isn’t easy; just ask Ali Maffucci, who lost about 60 pounds a few years ago by going vegan, only to gain it all back. The next time she set out to get to a healthy weight, she tried a different strategy: working out consistently and eating a healthful, balanced diet without completely ditching animal-based foods. And this time around, Maffucci was working as the food blogger behind Inspiralized, a site with tons of produce-based recipes that include spiralized ingredients. She ended up dropping about 50 pounds and just released a cookbook, also called Inspiralized.

Later this week, a spiralizer she designed herself with special features will also hit the market ($49.95, inspiralized.com). Want to transform your weight—and your life? Here are five of Maffucci’s favorite recipes for weight loss. They all contain spiralized zucchini to cut calories and carbs while loading you up with filling fiber.

Chicken and Tomato Basil Pomodoro Zucchini Pasta

“When I was on my own personal weight-loss journey, I made this dish once or twice a week,” says Maffucci. “It’s easy to make, and it’s packed with flavor, lean protein, and—of course—low-calorie and low-carb zucchini noodles.”

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts, roughly cubed

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup diced white onions

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes), with juices

1-1 1/2 Tbsp chopped basil

2 medium zucchinis, spiralized with blade C, noodles trimmed

1. Place a pot or saucepan over medium heat, and add in the olive oil. Once the oil heats, add in the chicken. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for three minutes, and then flip over, cooking another three to five minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink on the inside.

2. Add in the garlic and onions, and cook for two to three minutes, or until onions start to soften and become translucent. Then, add in the canned tomatoes, and roughly crush the tomatoes with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for five minutes. Add in the basil, and cook for another five to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and is thicker, suitable for cooking with zucchini noodles. Add in the zucchini noodles, and toss for two to three minutes, or until noodles are al dente.

3. Divide into two bowls.

RELATED: 4 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE I Started Losing Weight

Ali Maffucci

Gluten-Free Zucchini Spaghetti Fried Eggs

“When you’re busy and don’t have much time to make dinner, this will become your new go-to,” says Maffucci. “It comes together in less than 30 minutes! The ‘breadcrumbs’ are made from Italian dried herbs and almond flour, so they won’t cause your blood-sugar levels to spike like glutenous carbohydrates would. Plus, the flavors from the egg and the garlic zucchini noodles will satisfy your tastebuds while fulfilling your hunger.”

For the breadcrumbs:

2 Tbsp almond meal

1/8 tsp dried oregano flakes

1/8 tsp dried basil flakes

1/8 tsp dried parsley flakes

1/8 tsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon water

For the pasta:

2 medium zucchinis, spiralized with blade C or D

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 pinch red pepper flakes

2 large eggs

1. Place a medium skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the breadcrumbs except the water in a small bowl, and whisk together. Add in the water, and use your hands to form a dough—it should end up looking like a ball.

2. Crumble the dough ball into the heated skillet, and continually break up with a wooden spoon. Cook for two to three minutes, or until breadcrumbs break up, harden, and become “toasted.” Set aside in a bowl.

3. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add in the zucchini noodles, and toss for three to five minutes, or until noodles have reached your desired consistency.

4. Meanwhile, place the medium skillet back over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray. Once heated (flick water into the pan, and it should sizzle—that’s how you know it’s ready), add in the eggs, and cook for three to five minutes, or until egg whites have set.

5. Plate the zucchini noodles on two dishes, top with fried egg, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the meals.

RELATED: Trash These 6 Seemingly Innocent Foods to Lose More Weight

Ali Maffucci

Zucchini Pasta Primavera

“I find vegetarian pasta dishes can be unfulfilling, but this zucchini noodle dish doesn’t disappoint,” says Maffucci. “The dietary fiber in the vegetables keeps you full longer and doesn’t weigh you down, leaving you energized and focused.”

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup defrosted green peas

1 bell pepper, seeds and top removed, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp parsley, freshly chopped

2 medium zucchinis, spiralized with blade C

2 medium carrots, peeled and then shaved with a vegetable peeler

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1. Bring a medium pot filled halfway with lightly salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the broccoli, and cook for two minutes, or until tender but still crunchy. Drain into a colander, pat dry, and set aside.

2. Place a large skillet over medium heat, and add in the olive oil. Once the oil heats, add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and onions. Cook the onions for two to three minutes, or until translucent. Then, add in the tomatoes, green peas, and bell pepper, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about three minutes, or until the bell pepper softens.

3. Add in the zucchini noodles, carrot shavings, lemon juice and parsley, and toss for two to three minutes, or until the zucchini noodles are al dente.

4. Add in the broccoli and Parmesan cheese, and toss completely to spread the cheese.

5. Separate into three bowls, and top with additional Parmesan cheese to garnish.

Ali Maffucci

Chicken Zucchini Noodle Soup

“When we need comfort food, it’s easy to reach for that box of chicken noodle soup,” says Maffucci. “However, those can be high in calories and sodium—and other processed ingredients. This recipe will become your staple soup. It’s low in calories, high in protein, and contains other nutrients from the simmered chicken bones. The zucchini noodles take the place of the flour-based pasta.”

1/2 heaping cup diced red onion

2 celery ribs, diced

1 large carrot, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

1 Tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)

4 chicken thighs, bone-in, about 1 3/4 pounds

2 bay leaves

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

3 medium zucchinis

1. Place a large soup pot over medium heat, and add in the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook for three to five minutes, or until vegetables “sweat” and onions are translucent. Add in the thyme and oregano, and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.

2. Place in the chicken thighs and bay leaf, and pour in the chicken broth and water. Cover, and let come to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a steady simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Afterward, remove the chicken, and peel off the skin and discard. Then, shred the chicken off the bone and set aside, with any juices. Place the bones back into the soup pot, and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes.

3. While the bones simmer, slice the zucchinis halfway lengthwise. Then, spiralize them, using Blade C. Set aside.

4. Remove the bones and bay leaves, and discard. Add the reserved shredded chicken back to the pot, along with the zucchini noodles. Cook for five minutes, or until zucchini is al dente. Serve warm.

Ali Maffucci

Vegan Creamy Ginger-Coconut Zucchini Noodles

“Talk about the ultimate nourishing meal,” says Maffucci. “This green bowl of goodness contains everything you need to fuel your body and satisfy those tastebuds, like cashews, coconut milk, ginger, and of course, zucchini noodles.”

1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 15-ounce can lite coconut milk

2 tsp lemon juice

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cups chopped kale

1/4 cup packed fresh basil

1/4 cup raw cashews

6 medium zucchinis, spiralized with blade C, noodles trimmed

3/4 cup defrosted green peas

1. In a large pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once heated, add the garlic and ginger, and cook for one to two minutes, or until fragrant.

2. Add in the coconut milk, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and then add in the kale. Cover, and cook until the greens have wilted, about five minutes.

3. Transfer the kale mixture to a high-speed blender, and add in the basil and cashews. Blend until smooth and creamy, and set aside.

4. Wipe down the pot, and place back over medium heat. Add in the zucchini noodles and peas, and toss for three to four minutes, or until cooked to al dente. Once cooked, divide into six bowls, and top with green sauce. Serve immediately.

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