It’s vegetables! To drop a little or a lot of weight, add more veggies to your diet. Bulking up your meals with vegetables reduces the amount of high-calorie ingredients, leaving you with an overall lower-calorie meal. Not only will you help with your efforts at pound shedding or weight maintenance, but you’ll also be significantly increasing your intake of disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The more colors you eat, the more antioxidants you get.
Here are some great ways to “sneak” more veggies into every meal:
Pureeing: First steam up the veggies and them throw them into the food processor and give them a whirl until they’re pureed. Then fold them into most of your standard recipes.
- Meatballs or meatloaf (use ground turkey or chicken breast for the leanest outcome). Try our turkey meatloaf recipe.
- Marinara sauce – pureed carrots, zucchini, onion, and bell pepper will give it a lot of body
- Mash up sweet potato or butternut squash and add some shredded cheese; once melted pour over cooked whole grain pasta for a “mac & cheese” look alike
- Mashed cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes (also try adding some mashed parsnips)
- Make a pureed vegetable soup. Add some white beans to really amp up the appetite-satisfying protein and give the soup a creamy texture
Shredding: I find that shredding veggies presents them in a whole new way. The veggies seem more delicate, delicious, and fun to eat. They’re great raw in a salad and give a lot of crunchy texture (think cucumber, bell pepper, broccoli slaw, carrots, cabbage). You can also cook them. Try:
- shredded zucchini, carrot and onion pancakes
- broccoli slaw cooked with an Asian sauce (soy, teriyake, ponsu)
- sweet potato pancakes (spike it with a little cinnamon – yum!)
Substituting: swapping out a higher calorie ingredient (such as pasta) for a vegetable is a great way to trim some calories without losing any flavor.
- Try spaghetti squash instead of pasta; top with marinara sauce and some fresh Parmesan cheese.
- Use thinly sliced eggplant instead of noodles in a lasagna.
- Slice eggplant lengthwise and fill with ricotta, roasted bell peppers, and fresh basil. Roll up and place in a baking dish. Cover with marinara sauce and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Blend it: Blending up a combination of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get a nutrient-packed meal to go. Just add some ground flaxseed and some nonfat plain Greek yogurt for the extra protein and healthy fat to make it a complete meal. Suggested combinations:
- carrot, orange, banana
- kale or spinach, cucumber, apple
- tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, cilantro (hello – gazpach or bloody mary)
- beets, cherry (fresh or frozen), and mint