Culinary Inspiration

When it comes to fueling your body during a busy week, we’re often tempted to blindly reach for quick and convenient meals for lunch or dinner. Unfortunately, this type of meal isn’t always the healthiest. Below are three recipes you can make featuring a variety of grains, vegetables, good fats, and protein for under 500 calories per serving. These delicious, calorie-conscious dishes can be enjoyed without any guilt. And they save a little room for dessert, too!

Walnut Banh Mi Lettuce Wraps

Calories: 120

Time: 30 Minutes

Serving Size: 2


What you’ll need:

  • Sweet chili sauce – 1/4 cup
  • Rice vinegar – 1/4 cup
  • Small english cucumber cubes – 2/3 cup
  • Small matchstick carrot pieces – 2/3 cup
  • Red, quartered or halved grapes – 2/3 cup
  • Coarsely chopped and toasted California walnuts – 1 cup
  • Two thinly sliced green onions
  • 20 Belgian endive leaves, butter lettuce, or small romaine
  • Fresh cilantro leaves 

What to do:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir the rice vinegar and chili sauce together.
  2. Add grapes, carrot and cucumber.
  3. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in green onions and walnuts.
  5. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into lettuce leaves, adding a little cilantro on top.

See the full recipe with nutritional information here.

Walnut Vegetable and Chicken Quesadilla

Vegetable, Walnut and Chicken Quesadillas

Calories: 192

Time: 45 Minutes

Serving Size: 8

What you’ll need:

  • One large thinly sliced onion
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon
  • Diced zucchini (1/4-inch) – 1/3 cup
  • Diced, pre-cooked chicken – 1 cup
  • Diced red peppers (1/4-inch and roasted) – 1/3 cup
  • Seasoning blend (Italian herb) – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Four 8-inch medium-size multi-grain soft tortillas
  • Shredded cheese (Italian blend) – 1⅓ cups
  • Toasted and chopped California walnuts – 1/3 cup
  • Cooking spray (nonstick)
  • Marinara sauce (optional)

What to do:

  1. Over medium heat, cook onion in butter for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and very soft, stirring frequently.
  2. Add zucchini and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in seasoning, peppers and chicken.
  4. Place tortillas on a flat surface.
  5. Put walnuts, onion and cheese mixture over half of each tortilla in equal amounts, then fold over to cover ingredients.
  6. Cook the tortillas for 5 minutes on each side in a large skillet coated with cooking spray or until cheese is melted and tortilla is crisp.
  7. Cut the tortillas into wedges and if desired, serve with a marinara sauce that’s warm.

See the full recipe with nutritional information here.

Herbed Matzo and Walnut Crusted Chicken

Walnut-Crusted and Herbed Matzo Chicken

Calories: 370

Time: 40 Minutes

Serving Size: 6

What you’ll need:

  • Three Skinless, Boneless Chicken breasts, 8 oz. each
  • Matzo crackers (crushed) – 1 cup
  • California walnuts finely chopped – 3/4 cup
  • Grated Parmesan cheese – 1/4 cup
  • Salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Dried thyme – 1 teaspoon
  • Dried marjoram – 1 teaspoon
  • Crushed dried rosemary – 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Flour – 1/3 cup
  • Eggs (beaten) – 2
  • Lemon wedges – 6

What to do:

  1. Cut chicken in half horizontally, creating six flat fillets.
  2. With your finger, toss and mix pepper, crackers, herbs, walnuts, salt and cheese in a shallow dish.
  3. Put the eggs in one bowl and the flour in second bowl.
  4. Roll the chicken in the flour until entirely coated.
  5. Dip the chicken into the bowl with the beaten eggs.
  6. Put the chicken in the bowl with the crumb mixture and give the breasts a heavy coat, with the crumbs pressing into the chicken.
  7. In a large skillet, heat 1½ inches of oil.
  8. Cook two or three fillets at a time for two to three minutes on each side, so that the outside is golden brown.
  9. Drain on paper towels and serve with lemon wedges.

See the full recipe with nutritional information here.

And while you’re at it, check out our calorie-conscious collection, with even more recipes to help you stay inspired and on-track.

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