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A Secret Ingredient for Healthier Eating

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Recipe

A Secret Ingredient for Healthier Eating

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Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Cheese

from Fine Cooking #121, pp. 28-29

If you think you need to eat less to cut back on calories, think again-there’s a delicious way around that equation. By adding more vegetables to a dish, you can make each serving feel ample and satisfying while consuming fewer calories overall. In fact, a recent study revealed that puréed vegetables added to dishes can offer even more benefits than I ever thought.

In the study, which came from Pennsylvania State University, participants were given three meals a day-meals like carrot bread for breakfast, macaroni and cheese at lunch, and chicken and rice casserole for dinner. Each participant received a standard recipe or a version with either a small or a large amount of vegetable purée hidden in it. The variations all had the same volume, but the more purée they contained, the fewer calories they had.

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Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Cheese
Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Cheese

The results were remarkable.

Participants who got the most purée in their meals ate about 350 fewer calories and two extra servings of vegetables a day without even realizing it.

That kind of calorie difference can add up to a pound of weight loss every 10 days, not to mention the potential health benefits from the extra vegetables. Most important, the people receiving the highest amount of purée reported being just as satisfied with the flavor and quantity of their food as those in the standard group.

While I don’t think we have to be sneaky about adding vegetables to our own meals, it does make sense to take advantage of the benefits of adding vegetable purées to our cooking. This cheesy baked pasta is the perfect example of how to do it. A base of puréed cauliflower gives the dish a rich texture without any added cream or flour and adds a whole vegetable serving to each portion.

Steaming the garlic and onion along with the cauliflower mellows and deepens their flavor, and just the right amount of cheese offers a pleasant flavor punch. It’s an easy, crowd-pleasing way to add an extra measure of good nutrition and hearty satisfaction.

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