It seems as though most of the time, foods that are low in calories either don’t offer quite enough nutrients, or they don’t make you feel full, or both. Unfortunately, what often happens is that you end up grabbing foods with many more calories than you probably should be eating, because you just can’t seem to keep your hunger at bay.
Well, good news everybody! For those of you looking to slim down or maintain your current weight, you don’t have to run for those calorie-packed foods anymore! Here are 10 foods that happen to be packed with nutrients and are virtually calorie-free. You’re welcome.
1. Asparagus – You may hate the fact that it makes your pee smell funny, but give it another try if you’re trying to lose weight. This nutrient-dense veggie on has 27 calories per cup (plus it’s so easy to cook)!
2. Brussel Sprouts – You may have hated them when you were a kid, but give these another try now that you’re an adult! With just 38 calories per serving, phytonutrients and fiber, you can fill up on Brussel Sprouts and not feel bad about it. (I recommend roasting brussel sprouts with some garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for optimal flavor. I just can’t get my head around steamed or boiled brussel sprouts!)
3. Arugula – This may be just a garnish on a burger or sandwich for most of you, but you should definitely be eating more arugula. (I personally love making arugula salads with cherry tomatoes, parmesan shavings and some balsamic vinegar glaze.) Arugula packs a ton of peppery flavour – and nutrients – into virtually no calories. There’s only 4 calories per cup of this leafy green, and it’s also a great source of potassium, fiber and vitamins.
4. Broccoli – Broccoli is another one of those vegetables we all probably hated when we were kids, but your mom knew what she was talking when she was force feeding you these little green trees. With only 31 calories per cup and tons of nutrients, this veggie is super good for you. (Try roasting broccoli with some garlic, olive oil, grated parmesan, salt and pepper, then top with some lemon zest and juice.)
5. Cauliflower – This cruciferous veggie boasts cancer-fighting nutrients, as well as vitamins. An added bonus is that it’s filling and has virtually no calories. The internet is loaded with cauliflower recipes nowadays for everybody looking for low-carb alternatives, and this vegetable also happens to be the darling of the paleo community. (Tip: for a low-carb alternative to rice, whiz up some cauliflower in the food processor or use a cheese grater to get a couscous-like consistency. Then sauté it in a frying pan or cook it in the microwave until tender and use it in place of rice for stir fries or indian dishes.)
6. Beets – They’re delicious, they’re healthy, they’re low in calories AND they’re beautiful (albeit pretty messy to prepare). Beets have just 37 calories per ½ cup serving. (Suggestion: roast beets in the oven until tender and then toss with some goat cheese or some feta for a great warm salad.)
7. Grapefruit – This fruit has just 39 calories per grapefruit half and it actually helps to burn calories (as explained in this article)! Plus, it contains lots of good-for-you nutrients.
8. Mushrooms – I couldn’t imagine a life without mushrooms. They are my favorite vegetable by far, and a staple in my fridge. Tasty, satiating and good with almost anything, mushrooms are super low in calories and have a ton of nutrients. (For a slightly better flavour, go for cremini mushrooms rather than the plain white button mushrooms.)
9. Tomatoes – Have you ever had a tomato sandwich? My mom introduced me to these a few years back and every once in a while, I get a crazy hankering for one of them. Tomatoes, salt, pepper and mayonnaise between two slices of toasted bread and I’m a happy camper! (I know, I know, bread isn’t paleo but I do give in on occasion.) 22 calories per medium-sized tomato plus the added health benefit of lycopene makes tomatoes a great choice.
10. Kale – It’s more than just that thing that turns your smoothies an unappetizing green color; kale is nutrient dense and only has 5 calories per cup. (If you’re not a huge fan of kale flavour, try baby kale because it’s a bit milder and is great in salads.)
Do you regularly eat any of these almost zero calorie foods? If so, do you have recipes to share? I’d love to hear from you!