TIP OF THE DAY: A Festive, Low Calorie Dinner

[1] Salmon skewers atop a chopped salad of greens with apples (photo RA Sushi Bar & Restaurant).

[2] Top a salmon fillet with ponzu sauce, sliced scallions and sesame seeds (photo McCormick).

Lettuce Cups With Salmon
[3] Something light: lettuce cups with fresh or pouch salmon. See the recipe below (photo Chicken Of The Sea).

[4] Make the salad exciting, like this mesclun mix (photo Burpee).

Not everybody is heading out for a festive dinner on Valentines Day.

A reader writes: My partner and I are on reducing diets, and will be spending Valentines Day at home. What can we make thats special, yet low in calories?

A piece of poached or broiled salmonpink for Valentines Dayserved with a couple of steamed green veggies and salad, is always an easy choice.

You can upgrade the salmon with shellfish: lobster, shrimp, scallops.

But its just as easy to make this standard healthful dinner more special:

1. Serve a different vegetable. Think beyond asparagus, broccoli, green beans and kale to serve vegetables you dont eat often:

  • Dark, leafy collards; mustard, beet and turnip greens; and Swiss chard are are low in calories and high in nutrients flavor.
  • Asian vegetablesbok choy, snap peas and snow peasare commonly available and have some crunch.
  • Edamame, a Japanese favorite, can be purchased frozen in the shell, and are fun to pop out of the shell.

  • 2. Vary your green salad. Save the romaine for regular dinners, serve arugula and baby spinach.

    Or, buy a bag of specialty greens, such as:

  • Asian or Italian salad mixes.
  • Baby greens (Doles mix includes arugula, endive, kale, mche, mizuna, red and green chards and tatsoi).
  • Butter lettuces.

  • To take it further, you can add a garnish of edible flowers.

    3. Re-format the salmon. If you frequently have grilled salmon, do something special with it, as in photo #1, or:

  • Salmon skewers.
  • A crunchy green salad topped with warm salmon, sliced into strips.
  • Lettuce cups with salmon (recipe below).

  • 4. Toast the occasion. For 90 calories, you can enjoy a flute of champagne or other sparkling wine.

    5. Dessert. You know the options: berries, fruit skewers, a slice of melon with a squeeze of lime.

    You can splurge by tossing the berries in a teaspoon of Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.

    You can have a cup of lemon sorbet for 130 calories (depending on brand), or half a cup, plus a berry garnish.


    Ingredients Per Serving

  • cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup Minute Ready to Serve Brown Rice (or substitute)
  • 4 butter lettuce leaves
  • cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • cup carrot, shredded
  • cup celery, thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • 4 ounces cooked salmon (fresh or pouch)
  • 1 tablespoon cashews, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: snipped herbs of choice: cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Optional garnish: 1/8 teaspoon chia or sunflower seeds

  • For A Condiment

    On the side, you can serve a favorite condiment, like vinaigrette or flavored olive oil (basil, garlic, etc.).

    Or, choose an international condiment, like:

  • Asian chile sauce (hot)
  • Chimichurri sauce
  • Gochujang sauce (hot)
  • Harissa sauce (spicy)
  • Pesto
  • Plain yogurt flavored with black pepper and garlic
  • Salsa verde
  • Savory chutney
  • Worcestershire sauce

  • For A Condiment


    1. PREPARE the lettuce leaves: wash and pat dry. Set aside.

    2. WRAP the broccoli in damp paper towels and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 1 minutes.

    3. HEAT the rice according to package directions.

    4. PLACE all ingredients except the salmon in a bowl, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    5. DOUBLE-stack the lettuce leaves so you have two cups of two leaves each. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the lettuce cups and serve immediately. Top with the salmon and garnish with the herbs and seeds.

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