Looking for creative and slimming ways to fulfill your New Year’s resolution or shed unwanted holiday padding?
You’ve hit the diet jackpot with this collection of strategic, skinny eats. Here are 10 tasty bites that will help you stay full and satisfied while enhancing your weight loss efforts.
With just 15 calories per cup, mushrooms are a hungry dieter’s dream food, and they’re easy to incorporate into recipes. For a simple side dish, quarter a large container of white or crimini mushrooms, drizzle with a little lower-sodium soy sauce, and roast at 400 degrees until the veggies are soft and browned. Or, top a bunless turkey burger or grilled chicken breast with a mound of sautéed ‘shrooms — it’s easy to skip the bread when you have a yummy, high-volume topping to gobble up. You can even use mushrooms to create a low-cal, low-carb “pizza”: layer a roasted or grilled Portobello cap with marinara sauce and a sprinkling of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted.
Bags of shredded cabbage mix make it easy to get in a few more servings of veggies, since the prep work is done for you. Use the mix to throw together my lightened-up coleslaw, which uses creamy nonfat yogurt in place of mayo to slash major calories. Or, get a head start on dinner by sautéing a bag with other veggies, like sliced mushrooms and bell peppers, for a simple, filling stir-fry base.
Mild, sweet cauliflower is a huge bargain at just 25 calories per cup, and once you start experimenting, you’ll be amazed at how versatile this veggie is in the kitchen. To make a low-carb, low-cal substitute for creamy mashed potatoes, puree soft, steamed cauliflower with a dab of low-fat cream cheese, a touch of broth, and seasonings (get my simple recipe). If “crunchy” is your thing, try roasting the florets with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese — the cauliflower crisps up beautifully!
Quinoa contains nearly twice as much protein as brown rice and more fiber, making it one of the most filling whole grains for dieters looking to spend their calories wisely. Try poofing up a cup of cooked quinoa with low-cal sauteed veggies like mushrooms, onions, and carrots for a hearty meal that clocks in under 300 calories. Add chicken, tofu, or shrimp for an extra dose of protein
Frozen grapes are the perfect low-cal solution for dieters that can’t live without dessert. You can enjoy one full cup of these refreshing, bite-sized nibbles for only 100 calories — a phenomenally sweet bargain. And, because the grapes are frozen solid, they take a while to eat, stretching out your snack time. I think these scrumptious gems taste just like icy fruit sorbet!
Nonfat Greek Yogurt
A container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has around 100 calories and twice as much hunger-squashing protein as traditional yogurt, making it a substantial snack choice for people looking to reign in a hearty appetite. Doctor up a tub of tangy, plain yogurt with skinny stir-ins like chopped fresh fruit, vanilla extract, or a sprinkling of ground cinnamon. Thanks to its rich, creamy texture, plain Greek yogurt also makes a perfect substitute for sour cream and mayo in dips and baked goods — with a fraction of the calories and fat.
Swap calorie- and carb-heavy pasta with light and delicious spaghetti squash. It forks into long strands that you eat just like noodles, but contains just 40 calories per cup, thanks to the vegetable’s low starch and high water content. Toss a giant mound of squash strands with your favorite low-cal sauce, like marinara or creamy part-skim ricotta cheese. You can save up to 500 calories per meal every time you make this slimming noodle swap, which means you get to enjoy “pasta” as often as you like and still lose weight.
Super low in calories and a terrific source of lean protein, grilled or broiled scallops make a smart entrée choice if you’re dining out — as long as you steer clear of rich cream or butter sauces. I like to whip up a quick scampi at home with small, sweet bay scallops, which are less expensive than larger varieties. Sauté these bay beauties in a drizzle of olive oil with garlic, and finish with lemon juice and parsley to create a protein-packed meal that puts the kibosh on hunger.
Once a seasonal ingredient used almost exclusively in sugary-sweet fall desserts, pumpkin puree has now been rebranded as a year-round skinny food. It’s low in calories (just 40 per ½ cup), high in filling fiber, and, since it’s ready to use straight out of the can, super convenient, too. Stir a big dollop into nonfat vanilla yogurt to create a creamy, pudding-like treat, or mix it into oatmeal or marinara sauce to add nutrition and fill power. Pumpkin puree is also a great substitute for oil in baked goods like muffins and quick breads. You can swap these ingredients in equal amounts, so no messy conversions are necessary.
This potent flavor enhancer adds zing to meals for minimal calories. For a slimming, low-salt dressing that won’t bring on the bloat, top your salad with unlimited vinegar and 1 or 2 dashes of olive oil. And don’t stop with greens. Drizzle rich balsamic over a tray of roasted veggies to complement their sweet, nutty taste profile, feature fruit-flavored vinegars (like raspberry and fig) in low-cal marinades for chicken or tofu, and brighten up winter soups by adding a splash of red wine vinegar just before serving.
More Healthy Tips: –