Ten Foods for Weight Loss and a Healthy Diet
Easy to Prepare and Eat Foods to Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight
I am not a naturally skinny person. I know there are some people out there who are, but I am not one of them. I have to watch everything I eat to maintain a healthy weight and while I wish I didn't, I have found some foods that I really enjoy that are healthy, easy to fix, tasty and great for someone like me who is lacking that skinny gene.
1. Apples – One medium apple has only 72 calories, and with that 72 calories, if you eat the skin, you get over 3 grams of fiber, plus flavonoids which can have antioxidant activity. But most important for those of us interested in weight loss, apples fill you up. More than one study has shown people who eat an apple a day lose weight. (USA Today reported one study showed people who ate an apple fifteen minutes before a regular meal ate 190 calories less than when they didn’t eat the apple.)
Another great thing about apples is how you can fix them. Eat them raw or slice them and cook them in the microwave with oatmeal, Butter Buds, cinnamon and sugar substitute. Or just bake them whole in the oven and season them as you like.
For super easy preparation, buy an apple slicer; one good push and your apple is sliced, cored and ready to cook or eat.
Any way you prepare them, apples are a great addition to any healthy diet.
2. Almond Milk – Blue Diamond unsweetened refrigerated vanilla almond milk is one of my newest and best discoveries. (They also sell a boxed version that is available in the health food aisle of the grocery store. It is good too, but not as fresh and fabulous as the refrigerated version which I buy at my local grocery store and Target.) This milk has only 40 calories a cup—half of what skim milk has and the taste is great. It also provides 25% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, has no lactose (so great choice for the lactose and dairy intolerant), no cholesterol and no saturated fat.
I put it in my coffee, on my cereal, make smoothies with it and cook with it—it's especially good with the apple and oatmeal I mentioned earlier.
3. Greek Yogurt – This was another eye opener for me and I think one of the best diet tips you can get. I like yogurt, but even if you don’t, you have to try Greek yogurt. You will be shocked how creamy even the fat free version is. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein, contains live active cultures (important if you have stomach issues or are taking antibiotics) and if you buy the Fage brand, their farmers have taken a pledge not to treat their cows with rBGH.
One cup of fat free Greek yogurt has around 120 calories and 22 grams of protein.
You can eat Greek yogurt mixed with fruit like regular yogurt, use it to make dips and sauces or using as a topping on those oats and apples. You and no one you serve it to will think they are eating plain yogurt.
4. Egg Whites – One cup of egg whites has 117 calories, 26 grams of protein and is fat free. All that protein fills you up and keeps you full, which makes egg whites a perfect food for those interested in weight loss.
Unfortunately, eggs come with yolks and while you might want to mix a yolk into your omelet every now and then, what you really want are the whites—preferably without having to crack and separate a dozen eggs. Fortunately, there is a time saving solution to this—egg whites sold in the carton. Look for them in the dairy section of your grocery store.
To fix egg whites, think omelets or make low cal meringue “cookies”.
5. Chicken Thighs – I know everyone says to eat the chicken breast for weight loss, but personally, I just do not enjoy eating what can often be a very dry piece of poultry. However, I love chicken thighs—skinless, of course, but I also like to get them boneless.
Because they have more fat, chicken thighs have a lot more flavor and at about 100 to 160 calories a thigh, they are still a low cal protein option.
One idea for preparing them is to spray a pan with non-stick spray and sauté some garlic. Add the chicken thighs flipping them over until brown and cooked. Then throw in veggies like roasted peppers (available already roasted and sliced in the freezer section of your grocer), onions, mushrooms and your favorite flavor of canned chopped tomatoes. Let it all simmer a bit and then serve—either on its own or over whole wheat pasta or maybe a bed of cooked spaghetti squash or steamed broccoli. Top it off with a shake or two of grated dry parmesan and you will have a great healthy dinner in very little time.
An Apple a Day
6. Canned tomatoes – Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, fat free and low in calories, but fresh tomatoes can be expensive and go bad if you don’t use them quickly enough. Canned tomatoes can be purchased for as little as 69 cents and come already seasoned, chopped and ready to use. What’s not to love?
I use canned tomatoes in the chicken recipe I shared above, to make a quick low effort chili or I just dump them in the Crock Pot with whatever veggies I have and make a savory , satisfying, low calorie and healthy stew.
7. Salsa – I cannot say enough good things about salsa. At 35 calories in a half cup (assuming you don’t buy the “sweet” kind) you can eat a ton of it and it’s healthy. It like canned tomatoes has lycopene, and peppers contain capsaicin which has been linked to many health benefits, even weight loss. Word of warning here though—this does not mean you can chow down on chips and salsa. Just say no to the chips. Instead mix the salsa with Greek yogurt to make a dip for fresh veggies or use it as a topping for about any healthy meat. I even like it on whole wheat pasta instead of spaghetti sauce.
8. Frozen or Fresh Spinach – Popeye told us to eat our spinach, but for years I didn’t. The only way I’d seen it served was cooked to death and dripping with vinegar. Since then I’ve discovered how flexible and healthy spinach can be. (It is loaded with flavonoids and vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese and folate. And all for 7 calories a cup, raw.) Add it to pasta sauce, the chicken recipe I mentioned above or use it instead of iceberg lettuce for salad because it turns out Popeye really did have the right idea.
9. Frozen Fruit (unsweetened) – What I love about frozen fruit, is that it’s always there, or can be if you keep your freezer stocked. (Which really helps when trying to stick to a healthy diet and nutrition plan.) There are no worries of it going bad. I also love that you can buy such variety—peaches, berries, tropical. (Although I’d watch the tropical fruits, they can have a lot of sugar.) And finally I love the things you can do with it. Add it to oatmeal instead of apples—blackberries and blueberries are especially good for this. Or, perhaps the best use of frozen fruit...make smoothies. Make a great smoothie with a mix of almond milk, a dab of Greek yogurt and frozen fruit of your choosing. You may also want to add a bit of vanilla and sweetener and if you like, protein powder. They are great and filling.
10. Oatmeal – A serving of oatmeal has about 100 calorie. For as filling as it is, that is nothing—making it a great diet food. Oatmeal is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, many vitamins and phytochemicals. And using your frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and other things listed here, you can make it a different way every morning. You can also buy instant oatmeal that is labeled either “no” or “low” sugar. Instant isn’t as good for you as regular, but it still has many health benefits and it is still filling. It’s just a great way to start your day.