30 Foods Under 40 Calories, with Recipes
Cut calories with these foods
If you've hit a weight loss plateau, it's time to swap in some foods that will help jump-start your slim down. Watch this video for low-calorie foods that you can eat to help you shed pounds.
Calories: 4 per cup
This delicate, peppery green is amazingly low in everything you don’t want, especially calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. It is, however, loaded with crunch and packed with fiber, vitamins A, C and K, and other nutrients, including potassium.
Perfect in salads, soups, or anywhere you would use leafy greens, arugula may even boost your romantic life! Evidence suggests that the minerals and antioxidants packed into dark, leafy greens are essential for our sexual health because they help block absorption of toxins that dampen the libido.
Try this recipe: Arugula Soup
Calories: 27 per cup
Asparagus is traditionally known as a detoxifying food, because it contains high levels of an amino acid that acts as a diuretic, flushing excess fluid out of your system. It also helps speed the metabolism of alcohol and other toxins (it’s a surprising hangover remedy).
Asparagus is also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, B6, folate, iron, copper, and even protein. We love the tender shoots in their most natural form, raw and tossed into salads, or steamed.
Try this recipe: Grilled Asparagus and 6-Minute Egg
Calories: 31 per cup
Broccoli is amazingly low in calories, but it always makes our list of the top superfoods for a reason. Not only is it packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it contains powerful antioxidants that may improve your odds of breast cancer survival and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The chemical in broccoli responsible for the protective effect is called sulforaphane, and yes, it gives broccoli its slightly bitter flavor.
Try this recipe: Broccoli & Feta Omelet with Toast
Calories: 10 per cup
Clear beef, chicken, miso, seafood, or vegetable broth is a dieter’s secret weapon, nourishing and filling your body for almost zero calories, especially if you toss in leafy greens and lean meat. Broth is the ultimate “high volume food,” meaning you can eat large amounts for very few calories and still feel full. It all comes down to calories per bite, or in this case, slurp.
"By choosing foods that have fewer calories per bite, your portion size grows, but your overall calorie count decreases," explains Barbara Rolls, PhD, the creator of Volumetrics and author of the new book The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet. "So you end up with a satisfying amount of food."
The bad: This food is very high in Sodium. Read More
Try this recipe: Light French Onion Soup
Calories: 22 per cup
Crunchy, sweet, and affordable! How can a food that is so humble, with so few calories, be so incredibly good for you? Cabbage packs vitamins, minerals, fibers, and several phytonutrients thought to prevent cancer. Glucosinolate is a metabolic detoxifier and sulphoraphane is a powerful anti-carcinogenic.
Purple cabbage also contains anthocyanins and other natural chemicals that boost cellular repair and block cancer growth. Eat up!
Try this recipe: Sweet Cabbage Salad
Lettuce is low in calories, and relatively high in nutrients, which makes it the perfect food for those counting calories. But before you stock up on these power greens, watch this Cooking Light video to learn how to keep your lettuce fresh and crisp for longer.
Calories: 37 per 1/2 cup
Beets are sweet but have very few calories—so you can have something sweet without the guilt. They also are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Beyond their rich, earthy deliciousness, beets are also a nutritional powerhouse. Rich in iron, fiber, folate, and potassium, they’re an excellent way to boost the nutrition in a salad or pasta dish. They get their gorgeous color from betanin, a potent antioxidant.
Try this recipe: Savory Beet Soup
Try this crispy, flavorful new way to eat the nutritious veggie.
In this video from ChefSteps.com, you’ll learn how to whip up the perfect glass of refreshing, restaurant-style cold brew coffee right in your kitchen. The only ingredients you’ll need are coffee and water!
This salad combines plenty of nutrient-dense superfoods into one delicious dish. Watch this video for a quick demonstration of the grapefruit and avocado salad with seared salmon.
Calories: 15 per cup
Meaty and incredibly low-cal, mushrooms are also incredibly diverse. White button, Portobello, shiitake, and Maitake are just a few of the varieties you'll find in your grocery store. Fortunately, just about all mushrooms contain some form of immune-boosting antioxidants, along with potassium, B vitamins, and fiber.
Shiitakes, for example, contain lentinan, a nutrient that is thought to have anticancer properties. All mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.
Try this recipe: Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms
Packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and high in fiber, these sandwich stackers are a healthier version of the BLT that leave you feeling satisfied without any of the saturated fat. They’re perfect for an outdoor cookout or even a low-key summer evening supper when you don’t want to spend all of your time prepping in the kitchen. Watch the video for the recipe and the step-by-step demonstration.
Calories: 36 per cup
The potatoes skinnier cousin, turnips are a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and have a low glycemic load. We love them diced and tossed into soups or stews, or sliced raw and used in crudite (they taste surprisingly mild and crunchy!).
Try this recipe: North African-Spiced Vegetable Tagine
Salmon is rich in protein, heart-helping omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Plus, this recipe is low in carbohydrates!
Skip starchy arborio rice - remake this classic risotto with fiber-rich, filling barley. Same great taste - for fewer calories
Calories: 7 per cup
Tender and flavorful, this leafy green is rich in iron, folic acid, and vitamin K. It also contains disease-fighting antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as the phytochemical lutein, which protects eyes against age-related macular degeneration.
Use as a substitute for lettuce in salad or lightly sauté with shredded carrot, sliced mushrooms, and garlic for a savory omelet filling.
Try this recipe: Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas
Lemons and limes
Need to cut time in the kitchen? This penne with chicken recipe will slash cook time and calories.
What's the recipe for weight loss? It may be this kale salad. The star ingredient is grapefruit, one of the top superfoods for weight loss. Watch the video to see Health food director Beth Lipton explain the science behind this amazing recipe. Get the recipe: Raw Kale, Grapefruit, and Toasted Hazelnut Salad
Make these delicious potatoes for comfort food-made-healthy. In this video, find out how you can whip up a batch of creamy garlic mashed potatoes the whole family will love.
Calories: 30 per half cup
Hot or mild, peppers are packed with vitamin C fiber for negligible calories. The heat in hot peppers signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.
Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones—habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers—are too fiery for many people.)
Try this recipe: Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers
Calories: 32 per half cup
Don’t hold the onions! These flavorful bulbs, which range from sweet to sharp in flavor, boast allyl sulfides, compounds that have been shown to protect against endometrial cancer in laboratory studies.
Try this recipe: Bistro-Style French Onion Soup
Yes, this chili is perfect for fall, but you can also enjoy it year-round, thanks to canned pumpkin puree. Black beans deliver protein, and vegetables like carrots, red peppers, and tomatoes bump up the nutrients.
Calories: 19 per cup
These brightly colored vegetables are packed with potassium, folic acid, antioxidants, and sulfur compounds that aid in digestion.
Don't forget the leafy green tops, which contain six times the vitamin C and more calcium than the roots. Thinly slice and toss in a fresh green salad or julienne for coleslaw.
Try this recipe: Cucumber-and-Radish Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles
When we talk about tea as a superfood, we mean black, green, white, or oolong (herb teas are infusions of other plants with different nutritional characteristics).
All “real” teas are high in polyphenols, an antioxidant that protects cells from the DNA damage that can cause cancer and other diseases. Tea may also lower LDL or bad cholesterol, ward off osteoporosis, boost your brain power, and keep you thin.
We’ll drink to that!
Try this recipe: Spiced Green Tea Smoothie
Calories: 16 per cup
Crunchy, a little salty, packed with fiber and an incredibly high-volume food (meaning you can eat a lot for a few calories), celery is a chef’s secret weapon. For almost zero calories it also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate, crucial for a healthy pregnancy.
Try this recipe: Apple-and-Celery Root Salad