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I Just Wanna Veg…. (It’s Not Easy Eating Green)


This calorie deficit diet is going to be a bit more challenging if you are not a fan of vegetables. Vegetables are very filling and most of them are low in calories. Try to find those low-calorie vegetables that you like or can tolerate and experiment with different ways to prepare them.

 

I’m now eating vegetables I’d never really wanted to try before. I never ate brussel sprouts or spaghetti squash until a few years ago. I had a horrible brussel sprout experience as a kid and never forgot that bitter, mushy experience. Who hasn’t had a bad vegetable experience?

 

This is a long post but contains the tips and tricks I’ve learned to make vegetables a part of every meal I eat, make them palatable, and easier to prepare. If you want to skim to parts you might be not interested in, the main theme in each paragraph is in bold.

 

If you only buy frozen or canned vegetables and don’t eat salad, then you can probably skip the next several paragraphs, which are about fresh vegetables.

 

The toughest part about fresh vegetables is meal preparation. Whatever you buy, there is usually some washing, cutting and/or trimming to do. There is also washing with salad vegetables, too. I started including vegetable preparation as part of the grocery shopping task, because if I don’t, I will procrastinate and be pissy that I have to spend extra time preparing vegetables at mealtimes, when my hangry self just wants to eat.

 

I do not like those the plastic bags for produce that many US grocery stores provide in the produce sections. I think vegetables lose their freshness quickly in those bags. I use them at the store, but will store them in produce bags or self-sealing bags after I’ve washed them. I normally wash and re-use these bags several times.

 

When I get home from the store, I immediately get out the colander and rinse all my vegetables that don’t need cutting or trimming and set those vegetables aside to dry before putting them away. Then I start the cutting and trimming part. This could be green bean ends, or cutting up broccoli crowns, or halving brussel sprouts. I trim, rinse and set those vegetables aside to dry.

 

I do not rinse or cut the spaghetti, zucchini, or yellow squash until I’m ready to cook it. I’m concerned they would dry out in the refrigerator. After I’ve completed all those tasks, I have green beans and broccoli, ready to cook, and a drawer of washed salad veggies ready for salad. I don’t consider my shopping done until I’ve rinsed, trimmed and put away the vegetables. It makes mealtimes so much easier. To make my life easier, I decided a long time ago that buying ready to eat spring mix was easier than dealing with heads of lettuce. It’s washed and ready to eat, which helps with quick salad preparation.

 

I use kitchen shears for trimming green bean ends. I think it goes quicker than a paring knife. I use green produce bags for fresh, green veggies and my spring mix and I will sometimes throw a paper towel in with the cucumbers and other veggies to hold down moisture. I do this more when camping because the refrigerator we have at our camp is not frost free and tends to build up moisture.

 

One of my salad hacks is using the smaller, snack cucumbers for salads instead of whole cucumbers. I don’t peel them and have found that they are much easier to cut up and put into a salad. Also, they can replace chips or fries as a sandwich side when you have a sandwich or wrap for a meal. You can just grab them and put them on a plate, like whole pickles.

 

Cooking spray can be your friend when cooking vegetables. Before you go pouring healthy olive or avocado oil from the bottle all over your healthy, low calorie veggies to roast them, look at the calories on the bottle oil versus the calories of olive oil or avocado cooking spray. You will consume less calories with the spray. Yes, it is more of a processed food than bottle oil but more helpful for your diet. It also disperses the oil better in most cases and you will use less oil. You can find many healthy oils in spray form.

 

I use cooking spray for all my roasted vegetables. I also use tin foil on my baking sheets when roasting vegetables for easy clean up. Yeah, that’s kind of a luxury but my goal is to make meals easier. When making brussel sprouts for roasting in the toaster oven/air fryer, I spray them LIGHTLY with olive oil spray and season them with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I cook them for about 15 to 18 minutes at 400F, turning the halves over one time. Quick brussel sprout tip: face the edges of the sprouts all face up or all face down if using a baking sheet. It makes it easier to see when you’ve turned them all over at the halfway cooking point. I do the same preparation for broccoli and green beans as well when I roast them. The green beans, however, only need to cook for 5 to 10 minutes total, depending on how you roast them. Please note that your cooking times may be very different than mine. I did see one other tip I haven’t used much. You can also try preheating your baking sheet in the oven before you put the vegetables on it. I saw this on a cooking show and it helps with the roasting process.

 

My newest vegetable roasting combination is yellow squash, colored peppers and onions. It’s very summery and I like the taste. They all have about the same cooking time and that mixture seems to work well.

 

Many nights I just want them cooked quickly, so I will put green beans, broccoli or a combination of both in a glass bowl with a bit of water at the bottom, season them up with salt and pepper, and microwave them covered for about three to five minutes. If I was was really lazy that week, I will have grabbed the fresh in the microwavable bag of broccoli or green beans when I’m shopping. These are poke-and-nuke and just as quick with less preparation and clean up. They do go bad quicker than fresh vegetables so don’t plan to keep them around in your refrigerator a week or more if you buy them. The green beans can get slimy and nasty.

 

One annoyance I have is with Wal-Mart’s microwavable bag of fresh green beans. I have found that the ends have not been trimmed, so in my mind, they are NOT ready to eat. Watch out for that in your grocery store if you are shopping for microwave in the bag green beans and like them trimmed.

 

If you haven’t already figured it out, green beans, brussel sprouts and broccoli are my staple vegetables. Solely because these are the only cooked green vegetables my husband will eat.

 

A few years ago, I tried yellow spaghetti squash. It is low in calories, and there are many recipes online to prepare it. It does look like spaghetti but the texture is a bit mushier and wetter, depending on how long you cook it.

 

When I prepare it, I cut it in half lengthwise, remove the seedy pulpy center (though some people cook it with the pulp), spray the cut side and pulp pockets with a bit of olive oil spray and season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Sometimes I chop up a garlic clove and put some in each halve. I usually bake it for 40 minutes at 400F, cut side down. It’s done when a fork goes through the meat with zero resistance and then when it cools, you can easily scrape out all the squash from the shell and store in the refrigerator. This is a great substitute for pasta in any dish. It is low calories, filling and has a sweet flavor to it.

 

If hubby is cooking, he gets out the frozen California blend of vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and broccoli) and puts them in a pan on the stove with water and a steamer basket. I’m glad he cooks but I do the dishes so it’s another pan and a steamer basket. Sometimes I intervene and get them in the microwave, instead ha ha.

 

There is nothing wrong with frozen vegetables. I have a freezer full of them and eat them in addition to fresh ones. We also try to have one fish night a week (neither of us are crazy about fish) and we always steam a bag of frozen asparagus with it. I watched a cooking show where someone roasted frozen broccoli crowns on a preheated cooking sheet after blanching them in hot water for a minute. That is way too much work for me, cooking them twice, and an extra pan to wash. But if you want the roasted taste, you can get it this way from frozen broccoli. I’m sure it could be done with other vegetables, too.

 

What about canned vegetables? I rarely buy them because I feel they have too much sodium and lack the same nutritional value as fresh vegetables. I do have a few exceptions to this, though. I will buy canned corn and peas to serve with a holiday meal. I do eat canned black beans and pinto beans as well. If canned vegetables are the only vegetables you can tolerate, then eat them. You have to make this diet work for you.

 

Salad is probably going to become your friend on this diet. You can eat a lot of salad vegetables to fill you up for very little calories. When I say ‘salad vegetables’ I mean simply that. For me, salad vegetables do NOT INCLUDE nuts, cheese, lentils, hard boiled eggs or croutons, folks. To get my nutrition bang for the buck, I don’t bother with iceberg lettuce because I want nutrient-rich, green, leafy salad greens that I can also chop up and put in my omelets. I stick to spring mix, spinach and once in a great while, kale. In addition to lettuce, I put all colors of peppers in my salad, radishes, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and sometimes broccoli slaw. You could also add celery and carrots, but I don’t like to prepare those to put in salad, so I leave them out.

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Very rarely, I will add a half cup of organic black beans to my salad. I buy the organic canned black beans at Aldi. A half a cup is about 110 calories. I make sure to rinse them thoroughly before putting them in my salad.

 

It’s rare that I eat a plain salad without protein on it. It usually happens when I opt for a salad as a side dish when we are eating out. I normally put four ounces of cut up protein on my salad, whether it’s chicken, turkey or even sirloin steak. For a salad dressing, I use a 40 or 60 calorie per serving balsamic vinaigrette. I measure every salad vegetable, protein and portion out salad dressing and log it in my app. My sister thinks I’m nuts to measure the vegetable part of my salad. She just uses “dry generic garden salad” in her app and estimates how many cups she’s eating. I’m sure it’s close but I’m very intense about measuring my food. Just be sure to log some sort of salad.

 

What about starchy vegetables? Proceed with caution. They are higher in calories than other vegetables. They include potatoes, corn, certain types of beans, peas and lentils. I eat red potatoes and one serving (4 oz) is 110 calories. That is roughly four times the calorie count of a serving of green beans. Choose your sides wisely.

 

Even though the calorie count is high compared to other vegetables, I usually have a small red potato with dinner every night. These potatoes are high in potassium and studies have shown that they are great at satiating hunger. There is even an index of satiation and potatoes rank number one on that index. I just keep the butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon off of them.

 

There are studies that show if you cook and cool potatoes for 24 hours before re-heating them, it increases their resistant starch and makes them harder to digest thus creating less of an impact on your blood sugar. Since the resistant starch is harder to digest, you theoretically absorb fewer calories. Yes, I do this.

 

I challenge you to make a commitment to re-try one low calorie vegetable that you hated as a child or a new vegetable that you’ve never tasted. Ask a friend to suggest a recipe or look one up on the internet.

 

One final hint: a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese before roasting or baking a hated vegetable can go a long way to helping it become more palatable, and two teaspoons of the Parmesan cheese in a jar is only 20 calories.

 

Other posts in my blog with food-related tips, tricks and dietary information:

I’m Having a Crisis (An Eggxistential One) (publish0x.com)

Fruit – OMG!!! SUGAR!!! (publish0x.com)

Meaty Subjects….(Moo, Peep, Oink) (publish0x.com)

https://www.publish0x.com/60-pounds-by-60-years/the-booze-blues-whatcha-drinkin-xevjkyx

 

The post that explains the calorie deficit diet:

This is How We Do It! (publish0x.com)

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7th Decade Redhead
7th Decade Redhead

I'm 60+ years old female retiree who is finally figuring out why she's been struggling with losing weight her whole life. I want to share the lessons I learned so others can help themselves with their own weight loss struggles earlier in their lives.


60 Pounds by 60 Years
60 Pounds by 60 Years

My final weight loss attempt after 40 years of different diet failures. No shakes, no supplements, no surgery, no crazy food, no purchased meal plans, no fasting. Creating a healthier relationship with food and facing the painful truth about my relationship surrounding food. No BS, just common sense. And it worked.

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