Low in calories, naturally hydrating and packed with nutrients, veggies are your best friends -- no matter what your fitness and health goals include. A mixture of celery, carrots, cucumbers and onions helps you get a broader range of nutrients than any one veggie eaten alone, and the mix of green, orange and -- if you choose purple onions -- purple veggies helps you "eat the rainbow" for good health. Use these veggies to add bulk to meals without calories and combine them in a range of diet-friendly dishes.
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Celery, Carrots, Cucumbers & Onions for Weight Loss
Weight loss requires calorie restriction; if you're not eating fewer calories than you burn, you won't burn body fat to close that energy gap. Filling your diet with low-calorie foods makes it easier to achieve the calorie deficit needed for weight loss. Low-cal fare increases the amount of food you can eat, so you won't feel hungry, but it won't blow your calorie budget, either.
Celery, carrots, cucumbers and onions are all very low in calories. A cup of sliced cucumber or chopped celery contains 16 calories, a cup of chopped onions supplies 64 calories, and a cup of chopped carrots has 52 calories. That's only a tiny part of your daily calorie budget, even if you're on a restrictive 1,200-calorie plan. As a result, using these veggies in dishes allows you to increase your portion size without adding too many extra calories and exceeding your daily intake.
Health Benefits of Celery, Carrots, Cucumbers & Onions
Choosing nutrient-dense foods is especially important when you're losing weight; because you're restricting calories to burn fat, each calorie you eat has to come with real nutritional value, such as vitamins and minerals. Celery, cucumbers and carrots all supply significant amounts of vitamin K -- 37, 22 and 21 percent of the daily value per cup, respectively -- which benefits your bones and helps your blood clot properly. Carrots serve as a powerhouse of vitamin A, an essential nutrient important for skin health, cell growth, immunity and vision. Each cup supplies more than four times the daily value for vitamin A, so you'll meet your needs easily, even with a small serving.
Celery, carrots, cucumber and onions also contain dietary fiber, a type of carb that helps you feel full. While fiber contributes to satisfaction after your meal, it's not a source of calories so you get that full feeling for "free," which can help with weight loss. A cup of chopped onions provides 14 percent of the daily value for fiber; a cup of carrots offers 4 percent; and celery and cucumber contain 6 and 2 percent, respectively.
Try Veggie-Loaded Juices and Soups
Use celery, carrots, cucumbers and onions in veggie-packed dishes. If you have a juicer, start your day with a homemade vegetable juice comprising generous amounts of celery, cucumber and carrots; the celery adds natural savory flavor, the cucumber offers hydration and the carrots provide natural sweetness. Onions have a particularly pungent flavor in juice; use them sparingly in your juice blends, or consider leaving it out. Keep in mind that juicing takes the fiber out of your veggies; keep the pulp from your juicer to mix into soups or bake into muffins and bread.
Celery, carrots and onions also work well in a variety of diet-friendly soups. Make a pureed carrot-ginger soup using celery and onions for depth of savory flavor, apples for natural sweetness and juicer pulp for added fiber. You could also add these veggies to homemade chicken, turkey or vegetable soups. Cucumber doesn't cook well in soup, but it can work as a garnish; add a few spoonfuls of chopped cucumber, along with a squeeze of lemon juice to your soup.
Serve Wraps, Stir-Fries and Chilis
Combine celery, cucumbers, carrots and onions with heartier foods -- like lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates -- for filling weight loss-friendly meals. Make healthy vegetable wraps featuring celery, carrots, cucumber and onions. Wrap grilled salmon chunks, raw celery, carrots, cucumber and spinach in a whole-grain tortilla, adding caramelized onions and a sprinkle of low-fat feta for added flavor. Or use a food processor to slice and shred all four veggies; then stir in rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Wrap the resulting mixture in rice paper wraps for nutritious "summer rolls," a healthier alternative to spring rolls.
Prepare a stir-fry from celery, carrots, onions, grilled chicken or tofu, a half-ounce of cashews, and a sauce made from sesame oil, low-sodium soy sauce and fresh-grated ginger. Serve it with a small cucumber salad on the side. Or make chili using low-fat ground turkey, quinoa, black beans and your favorite veggies -- including onions, carrots and celery -- then garnish your bowl with chopped cucumber, a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of low-fat cheddar cheese.