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Five low-cal recipes for a healthy diet

Last updated on: September 28, 2010 15:02 IST

Image: Stuffed Bajra Roti
Photographs: Bracknell/Wikimedia Commons

Effective weight management includes a healthy balance of calories consumed versus calories burned. As most of us almost always fail to burn less than the calories we consume, it is best to avoid high-calorie foods. Here are five healthy recipes that you can master to ensure a daily dose of the right nutritients.

Carbohydrates: Stuffed Bajra Roti

We are always advised to choose healthy carbohydrates. To make your diet nutritious and healthy, go for healthy carbs such as bajra rotis. Consuming rotis without oil or flavour every day, however, may get monotonous. To make them tasty and filling, get creative and add a variety of stuffings to them. To keep them low on calories, serve without butter.


For the dough:

  • 2 teacups of bajra flour
  • A pinch of salt

For the stuffing:

  • 1/2 teacup crumbled paneer
  • 2 tbsps chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves
  • 1 chopped green chilly
  • 1 finely chopped large tomato
  • Salt to taste


For the dough:

  • Add salt and hot water to the bajra flour and make the dough.
  • Knead well, divide into 16 portions and roll out each portion into thin rotis.
  • Mix all the ingredients of the stuffing well and spread a little on one roti. Then put another roti on top and press well so that it doubles up into one. Repeat the same with the remaining rotis and stuffing.
  • Cook each stuffed roti on a tawa (griddle) on both sides without oil.

Total calorie count: Each roti contains 115 kilo calories.

Legumes: Fat-free Rajma

Image: Rajma
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

Legumes are nutritious and forms a major part of the Indian diet.

Beans, lentils and peanuts all belong to the legume family. These foods are good sources of protein and fibre, and are used in many different cuisines. One good source of legumes that is especially popular in North India is rajma. Not only is it nutritious but also tasty, when prepared with the right ingredients.

Excess oil and spices, however, can make rajma calorie-rich. Here is how you can have rajma without having to worry about piling on extra calories. Note that if you are often plagued by IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) you must avoid having rajma, as it contributes to bloating in the tummy.


  • 30 gms rajma
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 green chilly
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste


  • Soak rajma overnight. Pressure-cook it the next day.
  • Peel, wash and chop the onion and tomato.
  • Make a paste of onion and tomato separately.
  • Heat a non-stick pan, add tomato paste and cook for four-five minutes.
  • Add onion paste and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste to the above.
  • Add all the spices and cook for another tw-three minutes.
  • Add rajma and water as per desired consistency and cook till done.
  • Serve hot.

Total calorie count: 115 kcal

Fibre: Vegetable stew

Image: Vegetable stew
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

When on a weight-loss diet plan, it is advised to delete carbs from the menu for dinner. Having a bowl of this vegetable stew will ensure you a filled stomach, appropriate nutrient intake and a tasty dinner. Have it with a slice of whole-wheat toast. Cooked with minimum oil and a good combination of vegetables, this recipe is best suited for diabetics and cardiac patients who need low cholesterol intake.


  • 1/2 cup carrot, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup French beans
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
  • 2 potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cardamom seeds
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • 1 piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, slit or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cornflour powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste


  • In a cooking vessel, add the vegetables and the green chillies along with finely cut ginger. Also add the whole black pepper seeds, cinnamon, cardamom and the cloves. Add adequate water and salt to taste.
  • Cover with lid and let the vegetables boil on a medium flame. This will take about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and check whether the potatoes are cooked. Let it cook uncovered, till not much liquid or gravy is left. Add a tablespoon of oil and mix together.
  • Mix cornflour powder in water and add the mixture to the vegetables. Simmer and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You can add curry leaves for taste.
  • Serve hot with rice or have it with toast.

Total calorie count: 278 calories

Carbohydrates: Crispy soya dosa

Image: Dosa
Photographs: Roland/Wikimedia Commons

Crispy soya dosa is an instant snack that doesn't raise your blood glucose levels and helps you keep a check on your calorie intake. This recipe by Tarla Dalal is most suitable for diabetics, as soya beans help in controlling blood sugar levels and are also a good source of protein and Vitamin B12. This is a good recipe to try and serve your guests as well. Soya flour is easily available in grocery stores.


  • 3/4 cup rice flour (chawal ka atta)
  • 1/4 cup urad dal (split black lentil) flour
  • 1/4 cup soya flour
  • 1 tsp fruit salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil


  • In a mixing bowl, add rice flour, urad dal flour, soya flour and salt with approximately one cup water to prepare a thin batter and keep aside for 30 minutes.
  • When the batter is ready to make the dosas, sprinkle fruit salt on the batter and mix gently.
  • Grease a heated non-stick frying pan with cooking oil.
  • When hot, pour one quarter of the batter on the pan and spread it using a circular motion to make a thin dosa.
  • Cook on one side and pour a little oil on the edges while cooking. When crispy, fold over.
  • Repeat the procedure to prepare the rest of the dosas.
  • Serve hot with green chutney.

Total calorie count: 140 kcal per serving

Legumes and fibre: Mixed Sprout Bhel

Image: Mixed Sprout Bhel
Photographs: Courtesy

Hira Mahajan, consulting dietician and nutritionist, thinks homemade snacks are a better option than readymade ones bought from shops. These are not only healthier but save money too.

Brown bread sandwiches, kurmura (puffed rice) slightly sauteed in oil with vegetables and home-cooked popcorn instead of chaats, sev puri, momos or dosas are some of the snacks she recommends. Here is her recipe for Mixed Sprout Bhel, made healthier with the addition of some vegetables.


  • 1 cup (200 gms) mixed sprouts
  • 1/2 cup boiled Kabuli chana
  • 2 boiled potatoes, chopped into cubes
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped tomato
  • 1 finely chopped capsicum
  • 1 finely chopped cucumber
  • 1 finely chopped green chilly
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • Mix the sprouts and vegetables together.
  • Add chaat masala and a pinch of salt along with a spoonful of lemon juice.
  • Mix it again and serve, or pack in an airtight tiffin box to carry to work.

Apart from these, you can also try sandwiches with salad fillings, soya khakras, poha, rice idlis and fruit salads. These snacks will satisfy your hunger and prevent cravings and binging on high-calorie snacks.

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