Weight Loss Tips From The Garden: How To Use Garden Vegetables for Losing Weight

Vegetable Garden for Weight Loss

Fresh vegetables provide a delicious and healthy alternative to our favorite foods.

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Here in the south, it is very common for folks to have a back-yard garden. These vary in size from small raised beds to spreading several acres. Personal preference dictates what will be planted each year. I was raised on corn, green beans, peas, butterbeans, peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, potatoes, okra, and spring onions – to name a few. Many kids hate eating their veggies, (and I’ll admit there were a few I didn’t like), but mostly I remember a steady diet of fresh goods in the summer, and frozen/canned vegetables in the winter.

Benefits of Vegetables for Weight Loss

Vegetables are a delicious, filling, low-calorie, and low (if any) fat source of nutrition, and best friend to people who are choosing to eat healthy and lose weight. The challenge, of course, is in the preparation. Folks here in the south are prone to add lots of fat when preparing their favorite vegetables. I remember my mom taking a chunk of “fat back” and tossing it into a pot of beans. Or sometimes frying up little slices of the “fat back”, and then pouring the grease into the corn while it fried. (And then we would eat the crispy little chunk of fat, and chew on the rind for hours afterward.) This, of course, added calories and fat to the otherwise healthy dish. Over the years as the cholesterol issue came to the forefront of healthcare, people started cutting back on the animal fat, and started using more dry seasoning to add flavor.

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The real treasure chest from the garden is enjoyed during the summer months, when the cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, and onions are fresh. These don’t preserve well, so the season is shorter for these.

Having something crunchy with a sandwich is a must for me, but a bag of chips is very dangerous. In the summertime, it is a healthy treat to crunch cucumber slices or green peppers instead of chips. The taste pops off the tongue, and there is just the right amount of crunch.

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Consider that a one-ounce bag of Lay’s potato chips has 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. And like the old commercial used to say, “No one can eat just one!” One ounce, that is! I can work my way through several ounces of chips without even thinking about it. Compare this to one cup of cucumber (peel on), or 3.7 ounces. There’s a whopping 16 calories and 1 gram of fat! A green bell pepper cut into slices is 10 calories per 1 ounce/10 slices, and 0 grams of fat! Cucumber sandwiches are an alternative to using bread. Hollowed-out tomatoes or red sweet peppers make a beautiful, edible way to serve smaller servings of chicken or tuna salad.

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And then there's dessert. Watermelon and cantaloupe are great options for dessert! A slice of watermelon has 46 calories and 0.2 grams of fat, 0.9 grams of protein, 10.6 mg of calcium, and 170 mg of potassium. A slice of cantaloupe has only 19 calories and 0.1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of protein, 5 mg calcium, and 146.9 mg of potassium.

One slice of cheesecake (2.8 oz) will cost you 257 calories, and 18 grams of fat, 166 mg of sodium, 4.4 grams of protein, 40.8 mg of calcium, and only 72 mg of potassium.

That’s kind of a no-brainer. The cheesecake tastes good while it’s in your mouth, but given a choice of fresh watermelon or a slide of cheesecake, I’d take the watermelon any day! And please note - The higher percentage of protein as compared to the veggies, does NOT justify choosing the cheesecake instead!

Working out in the garden is also a nice way to burn calories, and enjoy the fresh air. Yesterday I grabbed a hoe and weeded my dad’s small garden. It took only a few minutes to do, but it was a great way to move my body, and invest some sweat equity into the harvest I know we will enjoy all summer long.

Mom knew what she was talking about when she said “Eat your veggies!”

Reference: CalorieKing.com

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