With soaring summer temperatures, you may find that colorful fresh fruits and vegetables are calling your name! These healthy cravings make sense since most produce contains over 90% percent water, making it a nutritious way to hydrate. A plate filled with colorful fruits and vegetables guarantees a bounty of health-protecting nutrients and is a great strategy for weight-loss too! A recent study published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women who added just two servings of fruits and vegetables to their daily diets lost three pounds. While three pounds might not knock off your weight loss socks, this study demonstrated that adding nutritious foods like fruits and veggies to your diet can help you lose weight without diet deprivation.

Fruits and vegetables are low-energy dense foods. Low-energy dense foods can be eaten in larger portions because they don’t add up to a large amount of calories. High-energy dense foods are foods like bacon, cookies, and butter. See the category descriptions below:

Low Energy Dense Foods:

0-1.5 calories per gram (most fresh fruits and vegetables, fat-free yogurt, broth-based soups)

Medium Energy Dense Foods:

1.5-4 calories per gram (bagels, dried fruit, hummus, skim cheese)

High Energy Dense Foods:

4-9 calories per gram (cookies, crackers, bacon, butter)

For those seeking weight loss, sticking to low-calorie diets can be difficult, especially if you don’t feel full or satisfied after eating. Research shows that one of the most important factors to helping us feel full is the volume or amount of food we eat. Low energy dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, allow us to fill up our plates without filling out our waistlines.

Make the most of summer produce for your weight maintenance or weight loss plan.

FREEZE IT Sometimes we buy too much! Don’t leave ripe produce for the fruit flies. Freeze brown bananas for smoothies. Add frozen berries to your morning breakfast cereal. Savor frozen grapes for an after dinner healthy “bonbon.” For a summer entertainment idea, blend watermelon and fresh mint, and freeze in ice trays. Add the tasty cubes to spark up a summer drink. Or combine your extra bananas and berries to make these tasty Frozen Banana Split Bites.

BLEND IT Smoothies are the perfect way to enjoy a variety of produce in one glass, and you can find a galore of recipes on the web. Make sure to review the calories per serving to budget your blended beverage calories. Blended cold soups are the perfect way to cool the palate. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup can be prepared in minutes, and is a great way to use up tomatoes that are one day from going out the door!

SPIRALIZE IT My vegetable spiralizer has become my summer kitchen gadget staple. For a quick dinner idea, spiralize a zucchini and combine with cooked pasta and your favorite sauce. A bowl with half veggies/half pasta will fill you up on less calories than if you ate the pasta alone. Learn how to spiralize your veggies with a Thai twist in our Meals in a Minute video.

GRILL IT Outdoor barbecues don’t have to mean hot dogs and hamburgers. Almost any produce item can be grilled and taste even better after a char! Grilled corn is one of our family favorites. Wait, you heard corn wasn’t healthy? Check out 5 Myths About Corn You Should Stop Believing!” 

DIP IT. Research shows serving produce alongside dips increases children’s likelihood to give fruits and veggies the thumbs up! This can work for adults too. If you find plain produce a little “ho-hum”, go for a dip! Spice things up with this protein-packed buffalo dip.

Yogurt Buffalo-Style Dip 

dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek 0% plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Instuctions:

  1. In a bowl combine yogurt, blue cheese, parsley, and hot sauce and mix well.
  2. Serve with vegetables such as carrots, celery, and cauliflower

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.