Sprouts are not only super low in calories (alfalfa sprouts come in at 8 calories per cup), they are ultra-packed with nutrients, versatile in the kitchen, and can fool your eyes into thinking you’re actually eating more. Think about it: Sandwiches piled with sprouts look “bigger” than two slices of bread laying flat over a slather of hummus. Toss sprouts into your salads, nestle them into wraps, and make them a staple for lighter summer eating.
The crunch of cucumbers delivers about 16 calories per cup of sliced cukes. These hydrating veggies can be layered in sandwiches, chopped into salads, and cut into sticks for easy snacking. You can also swap sliced cucumbers in for crackers or chips when you’re craving your favorite dip.
One whopping cup of fresh spinach leaves has a mere 7 calories, which means you can fill up on this nutrient-dense leafy green without blowing your bikini body diet. Spinach is also a deliciously concentrated source of vitamins and minerals and can be tossed in salads or with grains, layered in sandwiches, and pureed into smoothies or chilled soups. Other low-cal leafy greens include dark leafy lettuce, kale, chard, and fresh herbs.
Summer squash comes in a variety of colorful shapes and can add bulk to your summer meals without racking up the calories. One cup of sliced zucchini comes in at about 18 calories. Saute zucchini with a little olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh herbs for a yummy low-cal side dish. Summer squash can be eaten raw or cooked, so keep it on hand in your kitchen for your diet-friendly summer cooking needs. (Note: Summer squash is botanically a fruit, but we’re listing it here because who really sees a zuke as a veg?)
Unless you drown shredded cabbage with high-calorie dressings, this cruciferous vegetable delivers about 20 calories per cup. Loaded with cancer-fighting phytonutrients, cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked — we love slaws dressed with a little olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper but we also appreciate garlicky sauteed cabbage and adding the low-cal veggie to stir-fries and soups. You can also add cabbage to smoothies or to your favorite juicing recipes.