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6 Guilt-Free Dinner Ideas for Weight Loss

You get home from work, you're tired, and you want to feed your feelings—we totally get why dinners on a diet can be a struggle. That's why we had Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N., craft these four 400-calorie recipes to help you finish the day gratified, not gorged. One of her secrets? Satisfying your cream cravings (hey, we've all been there!) with sauces actually created from vegetables, like cauliflower cheese and white-bean-and-basil pesto. The Hummus Veggie Burger—which is great to freeze for a dinner emergency—is loaded with nutrient-packed ingredients, including garbanzo beans, flaxseed, and tahini, to keep you full and fueled to make it past the late-night cravings. And if you're actually craving something healthy (heaven forbid!), Blatner's fish tacos or grilled salmon salad will satisfy that clean-food yen without compromising taste. 

Zucchini “Pasta” with Basil “Cream” Sauce
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Using a vegetable peeler, shave 1 zucchini into pasta-shaped strands. In a food processor or blender combine 3/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained; 1/4 cup fresh basil; 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; 1 tablespoon water; and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Puree until smooth. Toss sauce with zucchini noodles and top with 3 ounces grilled chicken breast, sliced. (Addicted to the kitchen gadget now? The Best Spiralizer Recipes to Crush Your Pasta Cravings.)

Hummus Veggie Burgers
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To a food processor or blender, add one 15-ounce can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, 1 tablespoon tahini, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt; pulse until semi-chunky. Add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 3 tablespoons chopped red onion, and 1/2 teaspoon dried dill to mixture; stir to combine. Form mixture into 4 patties. Freeze 2 patties for another day and mist remaining 2 with cooking spray. In a skillet over medium heat, cook patties for 6 minutes, turning once. Add one patty to each side of a toasted sprouted whole-grain English muffin. Top each half with 1/4 cup spinach and 1 large tomato slice and serve open-faced.

Barbeque Chicken with Better Mac and Cheese
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In a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup steamed cauliflower, 1/4 cup 2 percent milk, 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt; puree until smooth. Add cheese mixture to 1/2 cup cooked brown rice elbow noodles. Serve noodles with 2 1/2 ounces grilled chicken breast topped with 2 teaspoons barbeque sauce and 1 cup steamed green beans. 

Steak and Guacamole Fajitas
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In a skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 garlic clove, minced. Add 1 cup sliced bell peppers, 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Sauté for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Divide evenly between 2 warm 6-inch corn tortillas. Top each with 1 ounce grilled sliced steak and 1 tablespoon guacamole. (Want a meat-free option? Try one of these 6 Mouthwatering Vegan Mexican Recipes.)

Chili and Lime Fish Tacos
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To a baking sheet lined with foil and coated with cooking spray, add 4 ounces white fish. Coat fish with 2 teaspoons chili powder and broil for 8 minutes, or until fish is 145° and opaque. To a medium bowl, add 3/4 cup shredded cabbage, 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Toss to combine. Divide fish and cabbage evenly between 3 warm 6-inch corn tortillas and top each taco with 1 tablespoon fresh salsa. (This is a great option for sticking to your diet while eating out, too! Plus these 10 Mexican Dishes for Staying Slim.)

Grilled Salmon Caesar
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In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce, 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese, and 1 slice sprouted whole grain toast cut into crouton-sized cubes. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon tahini, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 clove minced garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Add dressing to salad and toss. Top with 3 ounces grilled salmon.

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