The #1 Diet-Friendly Cooking Trick

Chicken Veggie Noodle Bowl

Stephanie Karpinske, R.D. is the Lehman family’s nutrition coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.

Adding more vegetables to your diet is a great way to lose weight—but not if you sauté those veggies in butter or oil. Remember: Just one tablespoon of butter or oil has 120 calories. Sauté your veggies in water instead and you could save hundreds of calories! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons water in a skillet until they barely start to bubble.
  2. Add your vegetables and sauté as usual. If veggies start to stick, just add another tablespoon of water.

Which vegetables should you try?
This technique works best for somewhat soft vegetables that have a high water content, such as zucchini, onions, celery and mushrooms. But I’ve successfully used this method for carrots when making soup and it worked just fine. The trick with tougher vegetables is to cut them into small pieces so they cook quickly.

What about the fat?

You may have heard that you need some fat to absorb some of the nutrients in vegetables. This is true but you likely have another source of fat in the meal you’re serving with your vegetables. If not, simply drizzle your sautéed vegetables with a teaspoon (per serving) of good quality olive oil. You’ll get less fat doing this than actually cooking your vegetables in oil.

Have you ever tried this trick? Will you this week? Post a comment and let me know how it goes!

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Meet the Avaglianos’ Nutritionist

elizabeth fassberg

New York City-based Elizabeth Fassberg, R.D., is president and founder of Eat Food, a company that designs custom nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals.

She’ll be helping the Avaglianos transform their behaviors and build health awareness.

“I try to figure out how to motivate people to make changes within their comfort zone,” says Fassberg.

Her Family Plan: “I want them to make the decision to change certain things rather than me telling them,” explains Fassberg. “I’ll have them discover what’s in the prepared foods they eat by looking it up online or checking the food label. When they see the high calories, carbs, sodium, saturated fat and sugar, they’ll make the decision to cut down. I won’t have to tell them.”

Her Healthy Eating Tip: Drink seltzer flavored with a splash of citrus juice in place of soda or juice alone. “It’s a waste of calories to sip sweetened drinks,” says Fassberg.

Got a healthy eating tip? Share in the comments below.

Meet the Lehmans’ Nutritionist

Stephanie Karpinske, R.D.

Stephanie Karpinske, R.D., is author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success. Through her Urbandale, Iowa–based company, SK Health Communications, Karpinske develops recipes and writes for supermarkets and food companies.

Family Circle asked Karpinske to guide the Lehmans through their six-month makeover and give them some of the knowledge they need to accomplish their goals.

“Even the best advice isn’t helpful if it doesn’t fit into your life,” says Karpinske. “The Lehmans need tips tailored to their lives.”

Her Family Plan: “Helping the Lehmans make time for healthy eating will be my priority. They need a go-to meal plan, a kitchen stocked with basics for super-quick recipes and snacks, and a weekly menu that includes ‘emergency dishes’ for those too-tired-to-cook nights.”

Her Healthy Eating Tip: Replace brown or white rice with quinoa. “You’ll get five times the fiber versus white rice and nearly 50% more protein than brown rice,” says Karpinske.

Got a healthy eating tip? Share in the comments below.