Before we get to the recipes, I would like to share some useful tips and essential items used for my cooking methods. The old saying goes, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” I prefer, however, to eat every meal like a king (or queen in my case). I must mention that I am not a nutritionist; I like to eat a lot, I like to benefit from what I put into my body, and this is what works for me.
The goal of high-volume eating is to be able to get the most volume, or amount of food for the least amount of calories, allowing one to feel satisfied without overeating. While this approach is often used for weight loss to prevent dieters from feeling deprived, I personally use it to eat large portions while maintaining my weight.
In order to get the highest volume of food per calorie, the trick is to choose foods that are low in calorie density. Fiber and water content are two factors that greatly affect calorie density. For example, think of how much more space ten fresh grapes occupy compared to ten raisins. It has also been speculated that dietary fiber is not completely digested, therefore contributing few calories to the diet while adding plenty of volume.
To achieve my collection of low calorie-dense recipes, I focus on ingredients that are high in fiber and protein, while being low in fat and sugar. Additionally, I seek out foods that will provide health benefits whenever possible. In the absence of fat and sugar, however, attaining optimal taste and texture requires some creativity.
The following is a list of select items that you will find in many of my recipes. Aside from several you are likely familiar with, there may be some you have never encountered. Many of the more obscure ones can be purchased at natural/organic supermarkets, or online. More information on the purpose of certain ingredients and usage instructions will be indicated in their designated recipes.
This is a natural thickening and binding agent often used in the food industry. It is a soluble fiber suited for a variety of recipes, including sauces, puddings, and gluten-free baked goods.
Another commercially used soluble fiber, this powder works particularly well in cold applications.
TIP: adding this to any homemade ice cream recipe does wonders for keeping it smooth and creamy.
Sometimes referred to as kojnac flour, this soluble fiber is a multipurpose thickener. It has a wide range of uses because it adds significant viscosity without excessive stickiness. Find out more here.
Whatever your dietary preference (rice, whey, pea, etc.), protein powders can be used in baked good to replace some of the flour, therefore reducing the amount of carbohydrates. They can also be added to ice creams and puddings.
This sugar alcohol is a favorable substitute for table sugar because it comes in granular form. It has negligible calories, yet is very effective for uses that require sugar-like behavior such as baking and candy-making. Because it occurs naturally, it is also an ideal alternative to artificial sweeteners. Find out more here.
This herbal no-calorie sweetener is best for use in beverages and sauces, yet can also be combined with erythritol in baked goods. It can be found in both plain and flavored varieties.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Naturally high in fiber, water and other nutritional benefits, fruits and vegetables are an ideal way to get a lot of high-quality food for very few calories.
TIP: Do you ever feel like eating an entire bag or box of something you might regret? Reach for a bag of baby carrots instead.
Herbs and Spices
Using a broad array of herbs and spices, both dried and fresh is an effective way to add flavor to food without excess salt, fat, or sugar.
High in fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients, these are an excellent whole, unprocessed food source to add bulk to a variety of recipes.
TIP: cooking dry beans from scratch instead of using canned allows for reduced sodium intake and more flexibility for use in baked goods.
Made from the soluble fiber glucomannan (see above), these packaged noodles are a great alternative to starchy pastas. They can be used in entrées, salads, soups, and more. Among other health benefits, they contribute minimal calories to whatever you add them to. Find out more here.
This gluten-free flour is nothing more than finely milled coconut. Being low in digestible carbohydrates, it can be used in place of traditional grain flours.
When limiting fat intake, this provides a healthy source of omega 3 fatty acids. It serves as a twofold ingredient in many recipes, as it can partially replace both flour and butter/oil.
This soluble fiber mixes easily into any recipe with minimal impact on thickness and texture. It can therefore be used a partial flour replacement in moderate amounts to add substance to baked goods. Find out more here.
Containing both soluble and insoluble fiber, these can also replace part of the flour in a recipe. When used in proper amounts, they enhance texture and stability of baked goods without adding excessive carbohydrates or calories. Find out more here.
This dairy-free milk alternative is very low in calories, yet still rich enough to provide creaminess. Using an unsweetened variety allows for use in both sweet and savory recipes.
Liquid Egg Whites
This low-calorie, high protein alternate to whole eggs can be used in everything from baked goods to omelets. Because they are pasteurized, they are also well-suited for sauces or dressings that do not require cooking.
Going beyond soups, broth can add flavor to many sauces without excess calories. Choose whatever type fits your dietary preference, and look for reduced sodium when possible.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Noted for a variety of health benefits when found in raw, unfiltered form, this vinegar is another low-calorie flavor booster. It is ideal for dressings, sauces, and marinades.
TIP: add a small amount to egg whites before cooking to produce a fluffier, and therefore higher-volume result.
- Many factors affect the volume of food, including cooking. The longer you cook vegetables, the more “deflated” they will become. Keeping them on the crispy side (or even raw when possible) will allow them to occupy more space on your plate.
- Condiment calories can add up quickly, thus robbing you of larger food portions. If you prefer those calories to be spent on second helpings, try stretching dips and sauces by adding low/no-calorie ingredients such as broth, vinegar, or even water along with extra seasonings.
- Preparation methods can also contribute extra calories that could easily go toward larger portions instead. To prepare food without heavy doses of added fat, use a small amount of cooking spray. Additionally, you can try one of these healthy cooking techniques.
- Many of my recipes are notably high in fiber. In order to maintain digestive balance, please be sure to drink plenty of water.
I realize that some of the ingredients listed above are not easily accessible and/or require some practice to use successfully. If you have any questions thus far, please feel free to leave a reply, or fill out the contact form to email me here. I hope you enjoy all of the coming recipes as much as I do. Just be sure you have some rather large plates on hand!