Beating Back the Bulges
Are you one of the more than nine million Americans (and 1.8 million Arizonians) who have vowed to lose weight in 2015?
You should know that you are in good company. From a list of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2014, weight loss was number one. It’s also encouraging to know that losing pounds and inches is now easier than ever, thanks to fresh, healthy, affordable, Arizona-grown produce.
More important, you no longer have to starve yourself. Sensible dieting combined with moderate exercise will peel the pounds better than any “crash” diet. If you go one step further, changing your eating habits and your lifestyle, those pounds will never return.
The secret is simple: a constant supply of fresh or lightly steamed vegetables to keep you from feeling so desperately hungry you eat an entire quart of ice cream! We have chosen nine of the vegetables in season between now and March, in order of their ripening, that are the best fat-fighters from the farm.
In January, choose:
- Broccoli, a powerhouse of nutrients. At about 31 calories per serving, it is low in sodium and high in fiber and protein. But skip the dip if you eat it raw.
- Sweet potatoes, surprisingly delicious and nutritious, a half cup is only 100 calories and helps delay aging, according to some experts.
- Beets. The source of most granulated sugar, beets are amazingly low in calories. Just 59 per cup, with only 13 grams of carbohydrates (or carbs) per serving and loaded with Vitamin C. Indulge.
In February, select:
- Brussels sprouts, the “little cabbages” of childhood. At only 38 calories per cup and an astonishing amount of potassium, you can gorge and still feel virtuous – though we recommend you don’t. Stretching your stomach just makes dieting harder.
- Cabbage, at 6 calories per leaf, you can make cabbage rolls with meat, tomatoes, and spices (hold the rice) and have at least four without feeling you have let yourself down.
- Rutabagas or turnips. A medium-sized rutabaga is 145 calories and 33 carbs, but contains record amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6 and magnesium. When your diet has you feeling dragged out, eat a rutabaga. It will feel like you have grown wings! Turnips are even lower in calories and carbs (34 per, and only eight carbs), but deliver 42 percent of the adult daily requirement of Vitamin C.
In March, buy:
- Parsnips. I call them the miracle vegetable. When my kids were young, they actually liked parsnips. The secret to sweetness is to leave them in the ground after frost. At 100 calories per cup, and 24 grams carbs, they also deliver record amounts of Vitamin C. But it’s the potassium that surprises. Almost 500 mg! Who needs mineral supplements?
- Spinach, Popeye’s favorite food, is also a dieter’s favorite. Containing a mere 7 calories per cup, and one gram of carbs, it provides more than half the daily requirement of Vitamin A in a gorgeous green that doesn’t fade even when steamed. Try lemon spinach (or any one of a hundred other recipes from Fill Your Plate, which also offers lists of local growers and farmers’ markets). Yum!
- Strawberries. They’re not a vegetable, but 10 medium-sized berries will net you 30 calories and a measly 0.5 carbs. The way I figure it, by March, when the first ones ripen, you will want to treat yourself for being such a faithful dieter. You might even add a dollop of cream and a sprinkle of real or artificial sweetener.
- Top 10 “All You Can Eat Foods” and Still Lose Weight (fillyourplate.org)
- 15 Fun Facts about Food (fillyourplate.org)
- How to Make Realistic Weight Loss Resolutions (fillyourplate.org)