10 Guilt-Free Recipes from The Skinny
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10 Guilt-Free Recipes from The Skinny

The authors of the "how to fit into your little black dress forever" guide have whipped up 10 scrumptious dishes that won't derail your diet.

French Toast

Use a soft whole-grain loaf for this recipe -- anything crusty or crunchy would distract from the smooth, custardy texture of the French toast. Papayas are an underappreciated fruit and deserve more play. We chose to pair them with this recipe because their juicy, bright flavor is a nice contrast to the fried bread, and, well, because we love them. But feel free to substitute whatever fruit you like.

Whole-Grain French Toast with Fresh Papaya

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

1 medium papaya
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
4 slices whole-grain bread (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick)
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus additional, if necessary
Maple syrup, for serving, optional

1. Peel the papaya and cut it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Slice the papaya into cubes (you should have about 1 cup).

2. In a large shallow bowl whisk together the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, soaking both sides so that the bread is well coated and has absorbed the custard.

3. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the bread and cook, working in batches, if necessary, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Add additional butter to the pan if the bread seems to be sticking.

4. Transfer the French toast to two serving plates and drizzle with maple syrup, if desired. Top with the chopped papaya and serve.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 393 calories, 13g protein, 59g carbohydrate, 13g fat (5g saturated), 7g fiber


When what we really want for breakfast is cookies, sometimes we double the maple syrup in this recipe. But on more normal days, we like this au naturel, without any sweetening, letting the fruity flavors of the kiwi and bananas shine. If you hate or don't have kiwis on hand, you can substitute 1/2 cup of other fruits, such as berries, peaches, or plums.

Banana and Kiwi Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks
1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup ice cubes
2 teaspoons or even a little more maple syrup, optional

Combine all of the banana, kiwi, yogurt, ice, and syrup in a blender and whir together until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 155 calories, 7g protein, 28g carbohydrate, 2g fat (1g saturated), 3g fiber

Roasted Asparagus

Roasting vegetables might be our favorite way of preparing them. Not only is it incredibly easy (lightly rub the vegetable in question with olive oil, roast at high heat until softened and golden), the roasting adds a layer of caramelized flavor. Once you've had asparagus prepared this way, it's hard to go back to steamed.

Roasted Asparagus with Herbs and Capers

Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as a mix of basil, tarragon, and parsley (or all basil or all parsley)
2 teaspoons drained capers, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.

2. Toss the asparagus in a bowl with the olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

3. Spread the asparagus in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus (thinner ones will cook more quickly).

4. Transfer the asparagus to a serving dish and toss with the herbs and capers. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 96 calories, 4g protein, 3g carbohydrate, 8g fat (1g saturated), 2g fiber

Chicken Salad

Dressed with roasted red peppers, olive oil, mustard, and garlic instead of the usual bland mayonnaise, this chicken salad packs a punch. It's great made into a sandwich for lunch at the office. Or if bread isn't on your menu, serve the chicken salad on a bed of greens tossed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Chicken Salad with Roasted Red Peppers

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine or sherry vinegar
1/2 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, if desired
1/2 roasted chicken, skinned, meat removed from the bone, and roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 cups meat)
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped roasted red bell peppers
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whole wheat bread or crusty white bread, for serving, optional
Mixed salad greens, for serving, optional

1. To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and garlic. Whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil until fully incorporated.

2. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, celery, red peppers, and chives. Fold in the vinaigrette. Season with salt and black pepper and serve, either made into a sandwich or over salad greens tossed with a little more olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 168 calories, 16g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 11g fat (2g saturated), 0.4g fiber

Spiced Popcorn

Piquant and crunchy, this won't bore you even if you eat it all. Luckily you can eat a lot of popcorn without guilt. Leftovers, if there are any, will keep for a week when stored airtight at room temperature. A resealable plastic freezer bag works well.

Addictive Spiced Popcorn

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Tiny pinch cayenne
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat combine oil, paprika, salt, cumin, cayenne, and popcorn. Stir well, coating the popcorn kernels evenly with the oil and spices.

2. Cover the pot and shake back and forth over the burner until most of the kernels have popped (the popping should slow to one pop every 2 seconds), 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the popcorn immediately to a serving bowl. Taste; adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 123 calories, 2g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 3g fiber

Lentil Soup

Loaded with vegetables and served with lime wedges, this lentil soup is lighter, more colorful, and all-around perkier than most. But it's still perfect for a cold winter Sunday meal.

Curried Vegetable Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes to 1 hour cooking
Makes: 4 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder, to taste
2 medium carrots, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small (about 2/3 cup)
1 medium zucchini, diced medium (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 cup lentils, rinsed under cold running water and drained
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and curry powder and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the carrots, bell pepper, and zucchini and continue to cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes more. If at any time the curry or onion starts to look too brown (that is, dark brown in places), reduce the heat.

2. Add the lentils and chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the soup has thickened, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the age of the lentils. Older lentils take longer to cook.

3. Stir in the cilantro and add salt and black pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 276 calories, 19g protein, 40g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 10g fiber

Roasted Salmon

This recipe works equally well with parsnips, turnips, or rutabagas. If you have fresh herbs in your fridge, chop them up and use them as a garnish. Tarragon, basil, cilantro, and parsley would be our first choices, though rosemary and thyme are nice too. If you want to add something green and crunchy, try slicing up an endive and serving it alongside. It's a nice cool counterpart to the spicy carrots and requires little effort since the endive is easy to rinse, dry, and slice.

Roasted Salmon with Carrots, Molasses, and Chili

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 25 to 30 minutes roasting
Makes: 2 servings

1 pound carrots (usually 1 bunch without the greens)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
Pinch cayenne
Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each
Chopped fresh herbs, optional, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel the carrots and slice them on a bias (this is prettier than coins and no more work) about 3/4 inch thick.

2. In a large bowl whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, the molasses, cayenne, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the carrot slices and toss well. Spread the mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until golden and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the fish on a small baking pan and pop it in the oven with the carrots during the last 10 minutes. The fish is done when it's opaque on the top but still darker pink inside, 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick the fillets are. You should be able to cut into it with a fork, but it shouldn't flake (that's overdone).

4. Serve the salmon and carrots garnished with herbs, if you have them, and lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 460 calories, 30g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 23g fat (3g saturated), 6g fiber

Roasted Chicken

If you've never had roasted grapes, you're in for a huge treat. The high heat of the oven caramelizes their skins and condenses their juices, giving you a sweet-tart, soft-yet-raisinlike fruit that's just amazing seasoned with a little sherry vinegar and served with roasted chicken. Make this once and we guarantee you'll make it again. If you want to get fancy, use a mix of grapes: black, red, and green -- just make sure they're all seedless. If not, at least don't forget to warn your guests!

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sherry

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 20 to 25 minutes roasting
Makes: 2 servings

4 chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1 garlic clove, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound seedless red grapes
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or use olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 bunch watercress, stems removed

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.

2. Rub each chicken piece all over with the garlic clove. Toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken to one side of a large rimmed baking sheet.

3. In a medium bowl toss together the grapes, vinegar, butter, and sugar. Season the mixture with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Spread the grapes out on the other half of the baking sheet.

4. Roast the chicken and the grapes, tossing the grapes occasionally, until the chicken skin is crispy and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Toss the watercress with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange the watercress on a platter or individual serving plates and place the chicken on top. Spoon the grapes over the chicken and serve.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 643 calories, 35g protein, 41g carbohydrate, 38g fat (11g saturated), 3g fiber

Pan-Seared Snapper

If you can get cherry tomatoes in an assortment of colors (red, yellow, and orange), this ridiculously easy after-work snapper dish morphs into something fancy enough for company. If you want to substitute a higher-rent fish such as black sea bass fillets for the snapper while you're at it, go right ahead.

Pan-Seared Red Snapper with Chunky Cherry Tomato Sauce and Garlic

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2 servings

2 (6-ounce) skinless red snapper fillets, rinsed and patted dry
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.

2. In a large pan over medium-high heat warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and sage and continue to cook until the tomatoes have softened and form a chunky sauce, 7 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to prevent burning. Spoon the tomato mixture into a bowl and cover to keep warm.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan and heat until hot but not smoking. Place the fish fillets in the pan and cook, without moving, until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the fish and cook the other side until the fillet is opaque, 1 to 2 minutes more.

4. Transfer the fish to two serving plates and spoon the tomatoes on top of the fish. Serve hot.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 342 calories, 37g protein, 9g carbohydrate, 18g fat (3g saturated), 2g fiber

Perfect Green Salad

This is the vinaigrette to keep in the fridge for whenever the salad urge strikes. You can double, triple, or multiply the recipe ad infinitum depending upon how much salad you eat. It will keep for at least a week.

Perfect Green Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 2 to 4 servings

1 1/2 quarts washed salad greens

For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl.

2. Pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated.

3. Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Add enough of the dressing to coat the greens evenly and toss the salad gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 145 calories, 2g protein, 5g carbohydrate, 14g fat (2g saturated), 3g fiber

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Originally published in The Skinny: How to Fit into Your Little Black Dress Forever, Meredith Books.