20 Foods Under 40 Calories: Stock Your Fridge With Ultra Low Calorie Foods To Lose Weight


After Thanksgiving I hit my highest weight ever.  If you follow this blog you know that I don't obsess about calorie counting or my weight, just eating whole real food, until.....I hit close to my highest weight or over or I don't fit into my clothes any more.   Then I get pretty serious about it.  To me this is a big sign that something is off in your life and it's better to nip it in the bud.  It's easier to lose 5 lbs than 30lbs!  I've lost about 2 lbs since then, so I've still got some way to go.  One way I plan to try to lose more is to stock my fridge with super low calorie foods.   I also plan to re read my post I wrote about my weight loss when it seemed to effortlessly melt off of me.  Thank goodness I wrote that post!  Its kind of like my notes.  I actually use my own blog all the time.  Not only does it allow me to share all I learn and do with you, but it helps me remember what I've done, what our garden has done, recipes that are killer but I don't make often enough to memorize, DIY projects I've done, etc. 



I think this post is on the right track to finding the magic that was effort less weight loss I once found.
I did a lot of things at the time and it's hard to say what things worked and didn't since I wasn't being scientific or any thing.  I do however remember I was working out (mostly weight resistance 2-3 times a week for 20-30 min), which I've so gotten out of the habit of, and I had healthy planned foods and snacks ready all day long and I ate every few hours so I never even felt hungry.  I also did not drink any calories.  I think these were the biggest keys.  So stocking your fridge with low calorie foods I think is key to effortlessly losing weight. 

The foods that have been referred to as zero or negative calorie food, which is a theory that if you eat calories super low in calories you will likely use most if not all the calories you ate just to digest it.  Whether this is true or not is hard to say since there are no studies proving it. Either way the foods listed below are clearly healthy and can only help with weight loss.  I've listed only commonly found foods (or easy to grow)   As a general rule all fruits and veggies are pretty low calorie, the ones I've listed have under 40 calories per cup (except for pumpkin which is 49 calories a cup). 
Kale (34 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 49
This is our Kale (Russian) Oct 2014 It's the rock star of our garden every year!
Kale is not only low in calories, but it's a super food that's crazy easy to grow!  Kale is one of my favorites in my garden.  First of all it's pretty enough to be ornamental (Swiss chard is too), and it's the first and last plant in our garden every year, and very heat tolerant and cold tolerant perfect for our weather here in MN.  It's also rather tolerant of drought.  I can't recall a time my kale has looked stressed ever, although we have clay soil here so it might be different in other environment. The only work is planting it and harvesting it that's it.  There are so many cool varieties too.  I've grown curly, dino, and red Russian (pictured above).

Leafy Greens
Arugula (6 calories a cup) Total calories for Arugula per 100g serving: 25
Lettuce (5 calories a cup) 
Spinach (7 Calories a Cup) Total calories per 100g serving: 28
Lettuce in our large wooden planter I made in June 2012

Lettuce only has 5 calories in a cup?  Upon seeing this fact I started thinking about the few dressings I have that are no fat that I really truly love.  I wonder how many calories is in that?  And if I didn't add anything except veggies or fruit wow that could be a really low calorie meal!

 I grow lettuce in the spring from transplants I get at our farmers market, and I grow arugula and   mustard greens in our concrete raised bed.  It's one of the easiest plants I have ever grown.  Arugula and mustard greens are very cold tolerant (which is great for our zone 4 here) and they easily self seed, which is good if you have it in a self contained area like I do.  That means if you throw some seeds into a large planter or self contained area and you allow it to go to seed it will just keep growing every year with out you ever planting it.  I've never had issues with pests.  All I ever have to do is water in a heat wave or drought and harvest.  That's it!  Its also one of my first plants to grow in the spring along with my chives.


No Oil Dressing 
(on average under 40 calories per serving)
Image via Whole Foods

Depending on what brand you get the calories of course can vary.  I have been looking for fat free dressings with good ingredients, because I hate that most dressings all use soybean oil. Dressings are such a great way to use olive oil!  I sometimes have my dressings fat free and sometimes I add oil to it.

My favorites are:
 Trader Joe's Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette (35 calories for 2 Tablespoons).  
Whole Foods 365Organic Fat Free Balsamic Dressing (30 calories for 2 Tablespoons)










Celery (16 Calories a Cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 16
image from The Kitchen Check out their celery leaf pesto recipe

Mushrooms (15 calories per cup) 
Total calories per 100g serving of Chanterelle mushrooms: 38
 
image from Julia's Album Check out her

Mushroom and Garlic Saute (Paleo, Gluten Free)



Cucumbers (16 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 16
 
cucumbers in our garden Aug 2013

I grow a ton of cucumbers every year.  I usually juice them and make cucumber limeade just add them to salads.  I would like to try to make some Asian flavored cucumber salads like I've had in some restaurants.  And I'd also like to make pickles of course.    Which brings us to our next low calorie food.......

Pickles (19 calories in a cup)
Refrigerator pickle recipe from Rebecca for Tasty Kitchen
It's a good thing pickles are super low calorie because my husband eats pickles all the time. Sometimes he will have some after dinner if he is still hungry, which is probably a great tip!  If you don't make your own make sure to get pickles that do not use food coloring.  Believe it or not I've gone to major grocery stores like Target and cub foods and looked at every jar they have and every single jar is dyed green!  So not necessary!  I get mine at Trader Joe's it's the lowest price I've seen without dye.


Tomatoes (22 calories per one medium tomato)
Total calories per 100g serving: 17
Tomatoes in our garden July 2012
I never thought about the calories of a tomato before, but I'm sooooo... happy it's super low in calories.  We grow a TON (life over 30) of tomato plants every year. Tomatoes are pretty easy to grow and you don't even need a garden to grow one, just use a 5 gallon bucket.  You can even make the 5 gallon bucket self watering (one of our most popular post)!   I usually just eat them fresh as a snack with salad dressing, throw them into tons of dishes and salads, and make sun dried tomatoes with the rest.  I use to make marinara sauce but it was so much work! 

Asparagus (27 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 20
image via. primavera kitchen


Pumpkin (49 calories a cup
Total calories per 100g serving: 20
Note canned pumpkin can very in how many calories per serving depending on the brand, for example Libby's is 20 calories per 1/2 cup

Our Skinny Pumpkin Pie Smoothie is low calorie, vegan, and dairy free
 My latest obsession is pumpkin.  It's packed with nutrition, low calorie, and makes a great fat substitute in many recipes.  Best yet you can keep it in your pantry.  I usually stay away from cans as much as possible since most have the chemical BPA in the lining f the cans, but I've concluded there are some rare exceptions that are just wort it.  This is one of them.  I use to buy huge pumpkins cook it and turn it into puree and freeze it but honestly I think it was just to much work.  Recently I added pumpkin to pancake mix and it was so much better!  I also am in love with my skinny pumpkin pie smoothie.

Broccoli (31 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 34
 Purple Broccoli In Our Garden July 2012
We have grown broccoli since our very first year gardening.  We eat a whole lot of broccoli so it's nice to now it's super low calorie too!   Check out our beautiful purple broccoli from 2012 in the picture above.  I found this beauty at my neighbor hood nursery never to find it again. We love to add it to dishes with a sauce cause it tends to suck up the flavor and cooks up super fast too.

 Broth (10 calories a cup)
Check out the 5:2 diet for this miso soup recipe for only 117 calories
Weather it's vegetable, beef, chicken, or miso broth is an easy way to help lose weight.  I remember once watching a women on a talk show years ago (I want to say it was Oprah but I could be wrong), about how she is from Japan and started to gain weight after she moved here (to the US), since she never had an issue with weight she decided to go back to her Japanese eating habits and food.  She easi;y lost the weight after making this change.  I'm sure she did a lot of things differently, but the one that I remember is that she said they start their meal with a broth soup.  To me this makes sense that this would help you lose weight if you fill up on healthy soup before you eat. One study found that people who have a low-calorie, broth-based soup as a first course consume 20 percent fewer calories than those who don’t.

Brussel Sprouts (38 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 43
Image via Avery Cooks check out her Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage (22 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 25 
image via Eat Well 101 Balsamic Honey Roasted Cabbage Steaks


Cauliflower (27 calories a cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 25
One of our cauliflower starting to turn into a head OurBack Yard Aug 3 2013
The picture above is of the cauliflower we grew in 2013, I've skipped growing it since only cause we tend to eat more broccoli than cauliflower and it does take up a lot of space in the garden.  I have however begun to enjoy cauliflower more, my husband still has yet to learn to love it.  It's such a great substitute for mashed "potatoes",  pizza crust, alfredo sauce, and  even rice.  It is also a great way to bulk up mac and cheese (replace half the noodles with cauliflower).   I also love to make cauliflower cakes or fritters.  One of these days my lazy butt will add my cauliflower fritters recipe here.  It's so good I can never stand to wait to eat it and take pictures of it.  I'd also love to try to make this buffalo cauliflower snack.  I usually keep frozen cauliflower on hand all the time.  I find frozen is easier to use in any recipe you need to shred it in.

Coffee (black) Zero Calories!
image found via
Image via Zazzle: Black Coffee has zero calories yea!

If you drink black coffee your in luck it has ZERO calories.  I however just can't do black coffee.  I use organic half and half, cacao (raw chocolate it's packed full of antioxidants and minerals), stevia, and a few white chocolate chips (not healthy but it tastes so good!).  So not too bad, but clearly black would be better! 


Tea Without Cream or Sugar Has Zero Calories!
image source: River Tea
One of my favorite weight loss tips is to drink tea whenever I feel like snacking.  Usually your actually thirsty or just bored.  You would be surprised how often I feel no longer hungry after having a cup of tea.  The warmth and flavor alone is often enough to satisfy me.  If I am still hungry after that I then have a healthy snack.  If you don't like tea you probably just haven't found the right one.  I would suggest trying some at restaurants or variety packs to start with and pay attention to the types of teas used on the ingredients of the ones you like and don't like.  Try to notice patterns of what you like or don't like.  This is what I did to find my favorite teas.



Kelp Noodles and or Miracle Noodles
Image via RawMazing: kelp noddles are super low calorie, no carb and packed with nutrition
Kelp noodles are a great low calorie (only 20 calories a serving), low carb noodle option that's chocked full of vitamins and minerals.  In particular it's high in vitamin k, which is great for heart and bone health, and iodine which is very good for your thyroid, which helps maintain your weight.  I add kelp powder to my smoothies for this reason.  

I have yet to try kelp noodles, but will definitely be looking out for them. According to Rawmazing (a fantastic site for raw food recipes by the way), "they really have no taste so they pick up the flavor of what ever they are mixed with. The texture is mildly crunchy but surprisingly like an al dente pasta."  You should look for them at heath food stores (check your local co-ops or Whole Foods), online, and at your local Asian grocery stores. 

I have however tried shirataki noodles (also known as miracle noodles). They are translucent, gelatinous Japanese noodles, which are made from the konjac yam, are low in calories and carbohydrates and can be substituted in a variety of recipes that call for pasta.  They come packed in liquid and don't need to be cooked, just rinsed.  I cooked mine just a little to get rid of some of the liquid and seemed to work well.  They do have a bit of a slimy texture and emanate a faint, fishy odor (though they're 100 percent vegan), which comes from the plant they are made from. I tried Pasta Zero which also has chickpea flour and potato starch to help off set this.  I found Pasta Zero at my local co-op.  It has a little more calories and carbs but is still really low calorie at only 30 calories for the package, which is suppose to be 2 servings but really is more like 1 serving for me at least.  You can find these at heath food stores (check your local co-ops or Whole Foods) or online.


Zucchini (22 calories per cup)
Total calories per 100g serving: 17
Check out how I made these Zoodles (zucchini noodles)
Another noodle alternative is to make Zoodles, noodles made from zucchini.  This is my favorite noodle alternative because you can grow it in your garden. Have so much zucchini you don't know what to do with it?  You could make zoodles or use it as a fat replacement in baked goods such as bread or brownies.  I actually don't though because when I tried growing it for the first time my zucchini, squash, and pumpkins were horribly invested by squash borers AND squash bugs.  I now get huge zucchinis at my local farmers market when in season often for only $1


What's your favorite low calorie food? Any tips on how to eat low calorie?   I'd love to hear about it! 

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