I love a baked potato much as the next gal, but I avoided them for years because I thought they were carb bombs that would go straight to my thighs. Not so. Potatoes are low in calories (161 for a medium baked potato, with 4 g of filling fiber). What also changed my mind? A recent roundup of 160 studies found that potatoes contain a nutrient called resistant starch, a fibrous substance that can help you lose weight. Cooking and cooling potatoes increases resistant starch, so this summer I'm all about my German grandmother's cold potato salad recipe (oil, vinegar, and loads of chopped scallions and dill). Click here for another terrific resistant starch packed recipe; otherwise, here are a few more unfairly maligned veggies you can feel good about eating again:
Iceberg lettuceDespite its reputation as offering little more than a watery crunch, iceberg delivers nearly 20% of your daily dose of vitamin K a nutrient that can help protect your bones. It also has vision-protecting vitamin A
Eat it: Grilled! It's sturdy enough to stand up to flames. For a healthy, low-cal, Asian twist, halve and grill long enough to get those telltale marks. Then chop and toss with a little sesame oil, grated fresh ginger, minced garlic, and rice wine vinegar.
Somehow, someone got the idea that carrots were so loaded with sugar that eating them was akin to spooning the sweet stuff into your mouth straight from the bowl. Okay, a slight exaggeration, but 1 cup of carrots contains only 52 calories and 12 g of carbs, and only half of those carbs are from natural sugar (the rest are from heart-healthy fiber and complex carbs). That's less than you'd get from a piece of fruit. They are a terrific source of beta-carotene, which can help regulate blood sugar, and provide other nutrients that protect your eyes and promote colon health.
Eat them: Shredded. If you're not a carrot-crunching type-I personally prefer them mixed in dishes rather than in stick form-try shredding and adding to marinara sauce or tuna salad for sweetness and depth.
In medieval times, celery was used to treat all sorts of ailments; in 2008, it's a great source of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. In fact, celery contains apigenin, a nutrient that may protect against cancer by inhibiting gene mutations. It's also a dieter's best friend at 10 calories (and one gram of fiber) per rib.
Eat it: Straight up, or try chopping it, along with carrots and onions, into a blend foodies call mirepoix. Sauté the mixture in a little olive oil as a base for soups and stews.
What foods are on your "avoid" list? How do you sneak in healthy eating? Tell me so I can post more ideas in a future blog!
Other Tips for Healthy Living
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Be Gorgeous at Any Age
Want more from Liz? Check out Flat Belly Diet to slim your tummy.
[photo credit: Getty Images]