Hidden vegetables revealed as a healthy secret to weight loss

by TMP Editor on May 10, 2011

For parents who want to trick their kids into eating their vegetables, hiding pureed vegetables in foods like spaghetti is becoming a popular technique. New research shows that vegetable purée is also a natural appetite suppressant that can help people control their calorie intake by warding off hunger. By adding pureed vegetables to their favorite recipes, people trying to lose weight could get better results faster.

Try ‘hiding’ vegetables in soups via puree!

hidden vegtable soup

The hidden vegetable study

To study the weight loss effects of hidden vegetables, researchers at Penn State University fed 20 men and 21 women breakfast, lunch and dinner in the laboratory once a week for three weeks. Some meals contained no pureed vegetables. Other meals had the calorie count reduced by 15 percent and 25 percent with the addition of pureed vegetables. For example, the macaroni and cheese recipe included skim milk, low-fat cheese and one cup each of puréed cauliflower and puréed summer squash. Without knowing which entrees contained the hidden vegetables, participants rated their hunger and fullness before and after meals. During each visit, participants eating the dishes containing the hidden vegetable puree consumed from 200 to 350 fewer calories and noticed no difference in flavor or overall satisfaction.

The perfect appetite suppressant?

In their report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers said that reducing the calorie content with a vegetable purée worked the best with spicy dishes such as a Tex-Mex casserole offered to the participants. The spicy flavors masked both the reduction in calories and increase in vegetable content to the point that people were completely unaware of any difference. Here are a couple of other recipes researchers used in the study:

Macaroni and Cheese

8 ounces macaroni (uncooked)
1 tablespoon margarine
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
8 ounces reduced-fat shredded cheese, sharp
1 cup puréed cauliflower
1 cup puréed summer squash

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a glass 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Cook macaroni in boiling water until tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain.

3. Melt margarine in saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add cheese; stir until cheese melts. Add puréed vegetables and cooked pasta; stir until mixed.

4. Pour into greased baking pan and bake, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes.

Makes 6 servings. Nutritional information per serving: 300 calories; 36 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams fat; 17 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.

Pumpkin Bread

2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup egg substitute
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with cooking spray.

2. Stir together the pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, until the top is dry and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

Makes 24 two-inch-square servings. Nutritional information per serving: 145 calories; 28 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fat; 2 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.

Source: New York Times, Food Product Design, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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