Hidden Veggies Lower Calories

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Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University completed a study that shows that hiding veggies in foods is an effective strategy to get people to eat more veggies and significantly fewer calories. This is because nonstarchy veggies are the foods that are the lowest in calorie density. For example, lettuce is a lot lower in calorie density than burgers, pizza, fatty meets, cheese and many other common foods in our marketplace. (You can view the abstract here: Blatt, A. D., Roe, L. S., Rolls, B. J., Am J Clin Nutr April 2011 vol. 93 no. 4 756-763 http://ajcn.org/content/93/4/756.short?rss=1)

We have been reading and reporting about calorie density for a long time - it is an excellent way to compare foods and can make all the difference for someone trying to lose weight - focus on eating more salads, fruits and cooked whole grains versus heavily processed foods that contain a lot of fat and sugar. We know that adding more veggies to any dish does lower the total calories.

We wanted to give this fun idea of hiding pureed vegetables in foods a try. We picked meatloaf and mashed potatoes and we were WOWED by the results. They tasted great and our teenage boy testers thought so, too.

Our calorie outcome saved 600 calories as compared to food you would find at a restaurant (we used the nutrition information from Boston Market for this calculation). Who would have guessed that this meatloaf rang in at just 100 calories and the mashed potatoes at 66 calories!

Here is how we did it:

Half n Half Meat Loaf

1 pound lean ground turkey breast

1 pound frozen stew veggies

1 can whole tomatoes, no salt added

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Ketchup, about 2 tablespoons


1. Cook the veggies in the microwave for 10 minutes or until really tender.

2. Puree the cooked veggies with the tomatoes in a food processor.

3. Stir the turkey, puree, seasonings and bread crumbs together. Place into oiled loaf pan, top with ketchup and bake at 375F for 1 hour or until done.

4. Allow to sit out for 10 minutes; cut and serve from the pan. It will be a little softer than usual but it tasted delicious and moist!

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Mashed Cauli Taters

1 pound yukon gold potatoes

1 pound frozen cauliflower florets

1 teaspoon butter

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup skim milk


1. Peel the potatoes and cut them in quarters. Cook them in boiling water with the cauliflower florets until they are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. (We usually go 20 minutes for potatoes.)

2. Drain off the water, mash with a potato masher and then whip smooth with electric beaters. Add the butter, seasonings and skim milk. Dab with additional butter or margarine. Serve hot.

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Dr. Kenney, our newsletter and CPE course author made a great suggestion for adding more veggies - he used the example of a stir fry dish - use more veggies, less meat and less oil and you will lower the calories tremendously; plus you won't have to cut the portion size to do that. He likes to use fresh garlic and ginger, too. And he recommends a light soy sauce that has less sodium.

If you have a way to make "hidden veggies"  tell us below. If we use your answer you are eligible for a drawing for our new poster, Fall in Love With Salad.

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This post is sponsored by the NutritionEducationStore.com - wait til you see all of the new posters we are creating!

This article with complete nutrition analysis, handouts on using veggie puree and a macaroni and cheese with carrots dish is featured in the April 2011 issue of Food and Health Communications Premium Membership and Newsletters:

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