You just can’t beat vegetables for low calorie nourishing food. Veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But there’s so much more to these colorful foods that makes them ideal for weight loss.
Vegetables tend to have a high water and fiber content. Both water and fiber increase the bulk or volume of foods. This in turn reduces the energy density or calories. When the ratio of calories to weight is high, a food is considered to be high-energy dense. In other words, a small amount of food can have a high number of calories.
Low energy dense foods such as vegetables have relatively few calories by weight. This means you can eat more food for the same number of calories as an energy dense food such as pecan pie.
Low energy dense foods can fill you up and provide you with a sense of when you’ve had enough BEFORE you overeat. They also help to displace high calorie food you might otherwise consume.
If you are not a veggie fan and can’t imagine ever enjoying vegetables, I hope you will give them another chance. Exploring the wide range of flavors and textures of vegetables can be an adventure. As I continue to learn about the health benefits of vegetables, I am motivated to discover new and delicious flavors in the foods I prepare for meals and snacks. I hope in time you feel the same!
Image by shannonpatrick17 via Flickr
Low Calorie Vegetables: 100 Calories or Less
artichoke, cooked 1 medium 60 calories
asparagus, cooked ½ cup 85 calories
beets, cooked ½ cup 37 calories
bok choy, cooked 1 cup 20 calories
broccoli, raw ½ cup 26 calories
brussel sprouts, cooked ½ cup 28 calories
cabbage, cooked ½ cup 17 calories
carrots, cooked ½ cup 35 calories
carrots, raw ½ cup 27 calories
carrots, raw 1 large 30 calories
cauliflower, cooked ½ cup 15 calories
celery, raw ½ cup sliced 10 calories
celery, raw 1 stalk 5 calories
cucumber, raw ½ medium 20 calories
edible podded peas, cooked ½ cup 22 calories
eggplant, cooked ½ cup 17 calories
fennel, raw ½ cup 15 calories
green peas (English peas), cooked 67 calories
jicama, raw ½ cup 25 calories
kale, cooked 1 cup 36 calories
lettuce, raw 1 cup 5 calories
onions, raw ½ cup sliced 23 calories
radishes, raw ½ cup sliced 9 calories
spinach, cooked ½ cup 20 calories
sweet green peppers, raw ½ cup sliced 9 calories
sweet potato, baked ½ cup 90 calories
sweet red peppers, raw ½ cup sliced 14 calories
sweet yellow corn, cooked 65 calories
swiss chard, cooked 1 cup 35 calories
tomato, raw 1 medium 25 calories
turnips, cooked 1 cup cubed 33 calories
white mushrooms, raw ½ cup sliced 8 calories
winter squash, baked (all varieties) ½ cup 40 calories
zucchini, raw 1/2 cup sliced 9 calories
Certain veggies are good raw or cooked others you will need to cook to enjoy. This doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. Most vegetables can be easily prepared and cooked in minutes with a microwave oven.
If you have the time, you just can’t beat the flavor of sliced roasted veggies. Brush veggies with a very light coating of olive oil, add seasoning, and then roast in a 425-degree oven. Watch the time. Some veggies brown up nicely in as little as ten minutes or so (small tomato wedges) whereas others might take as long as 30 to 40 minutes (sweet potato slices).
Here are a few more tips on how to get veggies in your diet more often:
1. Cut up veggies to be eaten raw at the beginning of the week. Keep them in a translucent container in the refrigerator in clear view when you open the fridge door. Having veggies ready to grab and eat makes them more appealing.
2. Get creative with salads! Salads can be so much more than iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. Think spinach or mixed leafy greens. How about beets, broccoli, carrots, jicama, cauliflower, cucumber, peas, onions, celery or fennel in addition to or instead of tomatoes?
3. Toss cherry tomatoes, halved with lightly cooked broccoli florets, a little olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoning.
4. Enjoy cut veggies with a low cal dip. You can make your own healthy dip by blending low fat cottage cheese with nonfat plain yogurt. Add seasoning, mix, and enjoy!
5. Add veggies to soups, salads, stir-fry dishes, casseroles, omelets, sandwiches, and more.
Check out my previous articles for some additional low calorie snack ideas:
Till next time, watch those calories and eat healthy foods!