What's for dinner? If you're one of the millions of Americans on a diet, that question might very well elicit a giant yawn. Once you forego the fat, forget about frying and skip the sauces, there's not much left with taste, right? Wrong!
Pickle Packers International, the trade association for the pickle and sauerkraut industry has a suggestion: add pickled vegetables! Ounce for ounce, it's hard to beat the flavor that pickles, pickled peppers and sauerkraut can add to meals in return for very few calories and no fat.
Here's the skinny on these low-cal vegetables:
- Pickles, pickled peppers and sauerkraut contain no fat.
- Each is low in calories; only 15 in an entire large dill pickle; 7 in an ounce of pickled peppers; and, 22 calories in a half-cup of sauerkraut.
- Pickles and pickled peppers come in dozens of varieties -- garlicky, tart and tangy, sweet, sweet-hot, mild and incendiary to name a few. Chopped or sliced, they make flavorful additions to sometimes-bland diet food recipes.
- Sauerkraut is made from cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable that's been touted as a cancer-fighter. Sauerkraut also delivers 25 percent of the US RDA of vitamin C per half-cup serving.
- Pickles, pickled peppers and sauerkraut count toward the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Eating hot pickled peppers actually speeds up your metabolism. The "heat" from the Capsaicin in the peppers causes you to salivate and perspire and your nose to run. It's also excellent in vegetarian dishes.
The sky's the limit when it comes to ways to incorporate pickles, pickled peppers and sauerkraut into light and lean menus. Here are a few ideas:
- Chopped pickled cherry peppers, tomatoes, onions, fresh basil and yellow squash make a delicious "salsa" for grilled lean meats or fish.
- Add chunks of dill pickle to tossed salads for extra flavor.
- Layer "sliced-lengthwise-for-sandwiches" garlic dill pickles or sweet-hot pickle chips with sliced tomato and turkey on whole wheat bread. You won't miss the mayo.
- For a change from cottage cheese and fruit, add pickle relish to low-fat cottage cheese and garnish with pickled banana peppers.
- Fold sauerkraut into ground turkey meatloaf. It adds texture, flavor and moistness.
- Add sauerkraut to a variety of colorful fresh vegetables for an easy and flavorful stir fry.
Of course, one of the best ways to shape up with pickles is to eat them out of hand as a snack. With very few calories and satisfying flavor, they're the ultimate guilt-free indulgence.