The Slimming Power of Pureed Vegetables
BY: Winnie Yu
Looking for a new and easy way to lose weight? Try sneaking pureed vegetables into your food. A recent Pennsylvania State University study found that adding mashed-up veggies to food can lower total calorie intake, without sacrificing taste or texture.
In the study, 41 adult volunteers ate in a laboratory once a week for three weeks. The day’s meals included carrot bread for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch, and chicken-and-rice casserole for dinner -- all of which had been altered to contain 15 to 25 percent vegetable puree. The meals were accompanied by side dishes and beverages, and the volunteers were free to eat as much as they wanted.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that consuming foods that contained 25 percent pureed vegetables lowered total calorie intake by as much as 360 calories a day, according to lead author Alexandria Blatt, a registered dietitian who also holds a doctorate in nutritional sciences. What’s more, when participants ate the meals with hidden veggies, they ended up consuming 4 more grams of fiber and boosted their total vegetable intake by two servings a day.
Getting people to eat more vegetables is an ongoing challenge. Experts recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, including 2-3 cups of veggies per day. Sneaking pureed vegetables into your food is an easy way to do this. Best of all, Blatt says almost any vegetable can be pureed and added to food, and if you do it right, it won’t affect the flavor or texture. To start sneaking veggies into your food:
• Cook the vegetable thoroughly first. Allow it to cool before putting it in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
• Match the colors. For instance, it’s best to use light-colored vegetables like cauliflower or squash in macaroni and cheese. But spaghetti sauces can be combined with almost any pureed veggie, even green ones like broccoli and spinach.
• Consider the flavor, texture and smell. Sweeter vegetables like squash are better-suited for baked goods like muffins or breads. Others, like cauliflower, have a strong smell that can be detected in some foods.
• Do some experimenting. Most purees turn out saucy and can affect the food. That’s why some recipes require some adjusting, depending on how much liquid the pureed vegetables contain and how much you decide to add. But other dishes, like casseroles, may not require any changes at all.
• Make extra and freeze it. Store your vegetable purees in single-serving batches. That way, they’ll be ready to use whenever you’re cooking.
Winnie Yu frequently writes about health and nutrition for Live Right Live Well. Her articles have appeared in Prevention, VIVMag, AARP Bulletin, Diabetic Living and on NYTimes.com. She is the author of What to Eat for What Ails You and the American Academy of Pediatrics' New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding.