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Robin Plotkin is a culinary and nutrition communications expert, a Dallas registered dietitian, a health blogger at Robinsbite and a spokesperson for California strawberries. She explains how to “volumize” dinner for fewer calories and more satisfaction.

Robin Plotkin
(Photo courtesy of Robin Plotkin)

Plotkin says that volumizing is exactly as it sounds — adding volume, or bulk, to your meals, but with foods that have fewer calories. She explains, “The portion becomes larger from a size perspective, but the calories stay in check. Many of these foods are very likely already in your kitchen or simple to find on a restaurant menu. It’s a matter of choosing them in order to feel full and satisfied. Foods that are high in water content, like vegetables and fruits, are key for volumizing. Lucky for us, they can be found just about anywhere that serves food these days.”

To help you make the right volumizing choices, Plotkin offers great tips for adding bulk to your meal without adding calories:

  • Start dinner with a small bean, lentil or vegetable based broth soup. Keep low sodium broths, bagged greens and frozen or pre-cut veggies on hand to make a quick soup for dinner, or make a big batch on the weekend and use it as a go-to throughout the week.
  • Opt for an entree salad with a mixture of greens, colorful vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radishes and zucchini. Be sure to add a portion of lean protein such as a hard boiled egg, beans, turkey, salmon, beef or tofu.
  • If it’s just a simple sandwich kind of night, order your usual on a 100 percent whole grain bread or roll and add volume with extra vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, cabbage or grilled eggplant, onions and carrots.
  • Make your favorite quinoa by adding red, green, yellow and orange peppers to the bowl. The added vegetables add volume and you will need less quinoa to feel full. The same goes for pasta — ask the server to add the daily veggies (lightly seasoned) to the plate and odds are good that you will have to ask for a to-go container for the rest of your meal.
  • If veggies are a challenge for you, my recommendation is to prepare or order roasted veggies. Roasting is the gateway preparation method to eating vegetables. The high heat allows the natural sugar in them to caramelize and become sweet.
  • Dessert is certainly on the menu. One serving of strawberries (1 cup, or about 8 strawberries) is just 50 calories and 92 percent water. Give fresh strawberries a roll in Greek yogurt and drizzle with a teaspoon of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a filling dessert.
  • You can certainly update the traditional fruit plate by melting a few dark chocolate chips in the microwave. Dip pineapple chunks, grapes, apple and mandarin orange slices into the chocolate to end the meal on a sweet note.


This article was written by Robin D. Everson of Examiner.com for CBS Local.