I first came across hungry girl around ten years ago. I was in college and beginning to acquire a taste for daily 1 pm McChickens. I wasn’t happy with my food choices but couldn’t really do much about it when all that was easily accessible was greasy, delicious, crunchy, heavenly…erm I mean terribly bad for you fast food.
It was the golden age of Google, where I was looking for help on how to replace unhealthy food with healthy things without sacrificing the taste or having to eat cucumbers all day long. And that’s how I found Hungry Girl. At the time it listed various American junk food and processed snacks that could be replaced with other healthier products. It didn’t help me, but I still followed their new posts and tried to apply the same approach on similar Egyptian brands.
Fast forward many years later, and I find the founder of the website on Dr. Oz, talking about “expanders”. I listen intently and discover that I’ve been doing this for a while but without having a proper name for it. “Expanders” are basically very low calorie foods you could add to small portions of rich dishes in order to expand the quantity of food on your plate and still keep it low calorie, all while enjoying the taste of your favourite foods.
Here are a bunch of expander ideas I’ve tried and liked:
1- Peas (or any green vegetable, chopped into small pieces), in pasta, stir fries and rice dishes. Just add a huge serving of steamed peas to your plate and mix it all up.
2- Sautéed vegetables can be added to anything, but I really like them with eggs, omelette or scrambled.
3- Zucchini can be made into “zoodles” to bulk up pasta dishes.
4- Cauliflower can be used with/instead of mashed potatoes, or else puréed into an alfredo like sauce. I even made croquettes with mashed cauliflower and it actually tasted like potato. It can also be pulsed in the food processor and used as a rice substitute!
5- Onions and green peppers can be sliced and sautéed with sliced beef or chicken in any sauce.
6- Lots of fresh fruit on top of a small piece of cake or pie.
Now this idea solves two huge problems people who want to eat healthier face:
- No need to cook two separate meals every day.
You can eat whatever the rest of the family eats and just add your expanders to it (best thing is, most expanders are veggies that can be cooked in large batches and refrigerated for a couple of days, so no daily cooking for you).
- No giving up favourite foods.
This is the best part. This is not a diet! You can adopt this as a lifestyle thing or as a once in a while trick when you feel that you’d like to lose a bit of weight. Either way, you never have to say no to lasagna. And that’s a wonderful thing:)