The key to losing weight is eating fewer calories that your body needs. Since we tend to consume roughly the same volume or weight of food each day,* that means taking in fewer calories per bite.
How is it possible to be satisfied (i.e., not hungry) with less food, you ask? Here’s the trick — when we pump up our meals with more water and fiber, we get more bulk without excess calories. Where does the water come from? Vegetables and fruits! Tomatoes and zucchini are about 95% water. The fiber comes from whole grains.
Take this pasta dish, for example. Half of its volume consists of a variety of freshly grilled summer vegetables; you get the eating satisfaction of pasta ( ! ) but you’re consuming only half as much.
Adding water-rich foods to your cooking will help keep you from being hungry. The irony is that you’re eating more in bulk (look at that big plate of veggie-laden pasta) but you’re taking in fewer calories (because there’s only half the usual amount of pasta). Bottom line: eat more and weigh less. Win-win situation.
I used a ratatouille-like combination of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers, but you can tailor this dish to suit your family’s preferences. I love zucchini and tomatoes with penne and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or a variety of colored bell peppers. Just remember to keep the ratio of veggies-to-pasta about half and half. That way you can have your pasta and eat it too!
*According to Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences at the Pennsylvania State University and author of The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.
1/2 lb. curly pasta (I used cavatappi)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into thick slices
1 bell pepper, halved and seeded ( I like red peppers)
1 small red onion, halved
1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into thick slices
4 large tomatoes, cut crosswise into thick slices
3 to 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, (preferably white)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese, grated
Lightly spray vegetables with an olive oil mister, season with salt and pepper and grill, turning occasionally, until browned and tender. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly.
Cook pasta until al dente, reserving one cup of pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot.
Roughly chop vegetables and add to pasta along with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and vinegar to taste. If necessary, add pasta water to create a light sauce that coats the pasta.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
WW Points per serving: 9