Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

Our top ten picks from Mother Nature's Good Earth Garden that are low in caloric content and high in nutritional values.

Raw Natural Vegetables Equals Natural Weight Loss

Vegetables from the garden or those at your local market that are as close to natural as possible are always very low in caloric content, including vegetables that are often considered taboo for dieters such as corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Even these glorious delectables contain a mere 100 or so calories per serving.

Sure, if butter, sauces, sour cream and other fancy toppings are added the caloric count increases - but only until that point.

Another healthy benefit of raw Mother Earth vegetables is that they contain zero to minimal fat grams. Foods that are low in caloric content generally are low in fat grams and sugar grams.

Raw Vegetables Lowest In Calories

If you are looking for vegetables to input into your current weight loss plan that are ultra low in calories, here are our top ten picks based on caloric values.

Lettuce: All varieties of lettuce are minimal in caloric content. 1 cup of romaine lettuce contains a skinny 9 calories.

Mushrooms: 1 cup of mushrooms cooked in no calorie cooking spray, 40 calories. The next time that you enjoy a burger, skip the mega buns and use grilled portabella mushrooms instead. Delicious and nutritious!

Radish: 1 cup of radishes, 20 calories. The downside to radishes is that they can make the dieter particularly gassy, but so can many of the other raw or steamed vegetables. Enjoy in moderation in salads sliced very thin.

Spinach: 1 cup of spinach, 40 calories. Spinach can be used as an ingredient in a plethora of recipes that can fit into your weight loss plan. Combine fresh baby spinach with strawberries or dried cranberries and drizzle with light, reduced fat raspberry dressing. Adding spinach to your recipe will increase the nutritional values while adding flavor.

Tomatoes: 1 medium tomato, 25 calories. While the fruit of the tomato plant is edible the vine and leaves are not. They are often frequented by tobacco worms - commonly called tomato worms by master gardeners.

Zucchini: 1 cup of zucchini squash, 28 calories. All squash - both winter and summer is low in calories. The winter squash contains more calories than the summer varieties and go well with light margarine added after steaming, or ground cinnamon, light margarine and a spoon of brown sugar added to them make a delicious, wholesome dessert or addition to the meal.

Cucumber:  1/2 large cucumber, 20 calories (about 5 ounces). Cucumbers, celery, cabbage and carrots are at the top of almost every dieter's menu list. All are very nominal in calories and when enjoyed in their raw state they promote good dental health.

Celery: 1 cup of celery, 20 calories. Add diced or sliced celery to soups and casseroles. Stuff celery with whipped cream cheese which contains fewer calories than the regular solidly formed cream cheese.

Cabbage: 1 cup of cabbage, 32 calories. Cabbage is hugely popular in the Diet World. We have soups build around this Wise Old Head, stir fry recipes as well as stuffed ones. Try shredding purple or green cabbage; add a few shredded bits of carrot. Add a few spoons of Miracle Whip Light and a dash of celery seed. Finally, add one spoon of granulated sugar. Quite tasty. You can also use light poppy seed dressing instead of the Miracle Whip or any of your favorite low calorie or light salad dressings to create a unique and original personalized recipe.

Carrot: 1 large carrot, 30 calories. Sometimes the dieter may actually feel like a bunny while dieting as there are so many raw vegetables on the menu. Therefore it's important to keep things interesting while you're keeping things fresh amid the weight loss process.

If you concentrate on eating your vegetables raw with nothing to dip them into, the diet plan is in jeopardy of becoming boring. And once the plan becomes boring, the dieter tends to lose interest and discard their diet. So strive to experiment with your fresh vegetables. Here are a few examples in addition to the recipes within this page that you can use as a pattern for eating your vegetables along with your regular scheduled meal:

Monday Vegetable Recipe: steamed mix vegetables served with lean roasted chicken breast

Tuesday Vegetable Recipe: prepare sliced mushrooms, chopped onions, chopped bell peppers in a non-stick skillet on the stove top using cooking spray or a spoon of extra virgin olive oil to avoid sticking. Serve over steamed rice with a side of grilled or pan-grilled fish.

Wednesday Vegetable Recipe: Open a can of chick peas and drain. Add to a non-stick skillet and cook until all liquid is absorbed; add 1 serving of light margarine to the skillet to coat the chick peas. Cook until golden; add salt and pepper. Serve with a side of cornbread.

Thursday Vegetable Recipe: Prepare your vegetables on the stove top with cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil; when they are done add your favorite Asian sauce to them. Add sliced cooked beef and stir; serve over a bed of steamed rice. An excellent mix of vegetables for this recipe: snow peas, asparagus, broccoli florets, pearl onions or chopped onions.

Friday Vegetable Recipe: It's time to drag out your grill. Skewer your favorite vegetables on an metal rod or a bamboo stick (the cooking stick should be flame-proof). Alternate the vegetables with chunks of lean meat and fruit. Be sure to marinate or brush with your favorite lower calorie sauce during grilling. A good combination to work with include: Corn on the Cob - tiny wheels sliced from the cob, chicken breast with skin removed, pineapple chunks.

Saturday Vegetable Recipe: Let's make a vegetable chili which is vegetarian friendly. Open 1 medium can of chili beans, 1 medium can of yellow or white hominy, 1 medium can of dark or light kidney beans. Drain all the cans except the chili beans and place into a deep pot in which you have sauteed 1 cup of chopped onions. Add 1 medium can of petite tomatoes and one tiny can of tomato sauce. Add one package of your favorite taco seasoning or you can use your spice rack if you prefer. You'll need to use chili powder, cumin and dried cilantro - to suit personal taste. Allow chili to heat thoroughly. Enjoy with reduced fat shredded cheese, crackers, chili sauce or cornbread.

Sunday Vegetable Recipe: Sear a small roast in a little oil on the stove top using a deep pan. As you sear both sides of the roast be sure to salt and pepper to suit your personal taste. Lift the roast and add one small bag of peeled carrots or you can use baby carrots; add 6 small or medium potatoes that have been peeled, washed and slice in half. Stick these underneath the roast with one onion that has been quartered and 2-3 stalks of celery. Add water to cover roast and cook in oven at 350 degrees until done. The size of your roast will determine cooking time.

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