Call it sneaky. Call it smart. Once you know how to purée vegetables, you can secretly swap those puréed vegetables for other ingredients in some dishes, people will eat fewer calories and won’t notice the difference. This is also a great trick for eating fewer calories for people interested in losing weight. You can also use puréed vegetables as a way to change things up with your regular recipes.
If you puree vegetables, will you reduce calories consumed?
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University offered 41 young men and women breakfast, lunch, and dinner once a week for three weeks.
At each meal, one dish—the carrot bread for breakfast, the macaroni and cheese for lunch, and the chicken-and-rice casserole for dinner—contained puréed vegetables in place of other ingredients.
When enough puréed vegetables were added to triple the amount of veggies in a dish, the calories dropped by 15 percent. When enough were added to increase the vegetables by 4½ times, the calories dropped by 25 percent.
People consumed the same weight of food regardless of the amount of puréed vegetables the dish contained. So on days when the vegetables were tripled, the participants ate 200 fewer calories. And on days when the vegetables were multiplied by 4½, they ate 360 fewer calories. But hunger and fullness ratings stayed the same.
What to do:
If you cook for vegetable-averse family members, puréeing. If you cook for vegetable lovers, bump up the salad, broccoli, asparagus, or other veggies and cut back on rice, pasta, bread, or other sides. If you ordinarily serve one vegetable with dinner, try two.
How to purée cooked vegetables
Almost any non-starchy, well-cooked vegetable can be easily pureed. (Starchy vegetables like potatoes will be gummy if pureed – that’s why we mash potatoes rather than pureeing them.)
Here are the basics and a few tips to turn you into a pureeing pro:
- Steam the vegetable until very tender.
- Allow the vegetable to cool for at least 5 minutes. (If the vegetable is too hot, steam can force the lid off the blender.)
- If you want to make a puree of just the vegetable with no added liquid, use a food processor.
- If you’re going to add liquid for a thinner puree (like the consistency of soup), use a blender
- Fill the container only half way.
- Cover the blender lid or food processor feed tube with a folded kitchen towel and hold firmly in place.
- Pulse a few times to get the process started then run on high until vegetable is smooth. Turn off and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
- You can use a hand blender to puree vegetables but you will not be able to get them quite as smooth.
You can roast the vegetables instead of steaming them if you want a sweeter, more intense flavor.
Do you have a favorite healthy puréed vegetable recipe? Please share it with us in the comments.
Sources: Am. J. Clin. Nutr. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.009332.
This post was originally published in 2012 and is updated regularly.