Healthy vegetable recipes for weight loss

  • 4 Minutes Read
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Are you interested in some healthy and delicious vegetable recipes to help you lose weight but are worried about the time necessary to wash and chop? Never fear because fresh pre-cut veggies are here!

healthy vegetable recipes for weight loss

I've always been a "do it yourself kitchen snob". However, since my commute time has doubled and my energy level has halved (thank you menopause!), I have not only resorted to buying fresh pre-cut produce, I have embraced it, at least for some of our meals. Even though pre-cut vegetables are controversial due to the increased amount of plastic packaging, pre-cut produce sales have increased rapidly in the last few years. Sales of one of my favorites, diced butternut squash, increased by 41%, and with its time saving qualities, I can see why.

When our two daughters were younger and helping in the kitchen, ripping lettuce for salads with their little hands, pinching off the ends of green beans, and peeling carrots, were times of bonding and opportunities to teach healthy cooking skills. However, now with a new phase of our lives (our "help" has graduated), I am enjoying having the option to use pre-cut vegetables.

If I don't buy the pre-prepped vegetables on sale, they are definitely more expensive. However, it's still cheaper and healthier than going out to eat, and I can control my portions and ingredients. Especially since I cook daily, I have justified that it's okay to use pre-prepped vegetables - at least some of the time.

My favorite pre-cut vegetables are the following:

  1. Minced garlic
  2. Minced ginger
  3. Bagged coleslaw
  4. Bagged vegetable medley
  5. Pre-cut mushrooms
  6. Pre-cubed butternut squash
  7. Pre-made salads

Enjoy these healthy vegetable recipes for weight loss

Use pre-cut stir fry mixtures to create the vegetable part of a healthy make-ahead meal

Whenever fresh pre-cut vegetables from stir fry mixtures are on sale, I buy a few bags. Not only do I eat a medley of vegetables from the package, it's a good opportunity for me to add other vegetables from my refrigerator that need to be used up. Adding an onion, a few forlorn stalks of celery, limp carrots, and a few slices of red peppers not only prevents these veggies from going to waste, but also adds color and increases the quantity of the dish for a healthy lunch the next day.

Tip: These stir fry mixtures are often in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store near the pre-washed lettuce.

Whether you cook your stir fry mixtures on the stove or roast them in the oven, they are very versatile and can be used in a variety of meals including stir fries (their original intent), sauces, burritos, sheet pan dinners, healthy bowls and mixing with scrambled eggs.

On stove: Stir fry or saute

Quick stir fry vegetables recipe

For stir fry, just follow the direction on the package, except enhance the mixture by adding vegetables that need to be used up. I start by sautéing an onion for about 10 minutes so it adds a caramelized taste before adding the rest of the vegetables. Serve the sauce on the side so that each person can add the desired amount and control their own calories. To increase protein, add cooked diced meats, such as rotisserie chicken, cubed pork or beef, or a can of chickpeas (drained) or cubed tofu. Sprinkle five to ten nuts on top for even more protein and an extra crunch.

Quick sauteed vegetables recipe

In a large saucepan on the stove, place 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil of choice and heat on medium heat. After a few minutes, add vegetables and stir. Let them cook slowly until they are cooked to the tenderness of your liking - from firm to the bite ("al dente") or on the softer side. It's your choice.

Once done, these cooked vegetables can be mixed into spaghetti sauce, used as fillings for burritos or tacos, and stirred in with scrambled eggs.

Ways to use sauteed vegetables

1. Quick spaghetti sauce

Mix sauteed vegetables with your favorite garden-style spaghetti sauce. If you want protein in your sauce, add some pre-cooked ground beef, ground turkey or rotisserie chicken that has been diced. To increase fiber and protein in your diet, try something new by serving over dried pastas made from chickpeas, lentils, or black beans.

2. Quick burritos

Mix sauteed vegetables with your favorite burrito recipe. Perhaps you want to try my quick and simple burrito wrap. Mix sauteed vegetables with black beans, corn, cheese, rice, and taco seasoning and wrap in a whole wheat tortilla. Heat in the oven until the cheese melts. Dip in your favorite salsa.

Freezes well too. Freeze the burritos in individual servings by wrapping each burrito in aluminum foil before baking. Then, just remove the burritos from the freezer when you're ready to eat. To bake individual foil-wrapped burritos straight from the freezer (while still frozen), place foil-wrapped burrito on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes.

In oven: Roast and caramelize

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, place a piece of parchment paper on a large sheet pan with edges. This makes clean up a cinch. Pour a bag of stir fry vegetables on the pan. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Stir slightly and spread so that vegetables do not overlap. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes and then flip them over to brown or caramelize on the other side. Bake longer until browned to your liking.

Efficiency tip: After grocery shopping

I get this roasting process started right after I step in the door with my groceries. Then, while I am putting away my other groceries, a delicious sweet nutty aroma permeates from the oven. After roasting, I either use right away or store them in a covered bowl for various meals throughout the week. If you want to create a meal from these caramelized vegetables, click here for 6 tips to make sheet pan dinner easy. You can also use these caramelized vegetables to make a healthy bowl.
Click here to get started.

Bottom line on how to use healthy vegetable recipes for weight loss when you are in a hurry

If you have a busy schedule and still want to find a way to fill half of your plate with vegetables, try following some of the recipes above which are delicious and nutritious and can help with weight loss. Not only is it cheaper then going out to eat, it can be quicker and healthier. In addition, pre-prepped vegetables do provide people with disabilities and seniors more independence and healthier options.

Please share with us your favorite way to increase vegetables in your diet.

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Foods & Recipes->Fruit & Vegetables
Mar 9, 2020

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