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January 4, 2011 > Fill up on fiber, protein and fluids to slim down

Fill up on fiber, protein and fluids to slim down

By Jim Romanoff, For The Associated Press

Fill up to lose fat.

If you're trying to lose weight, filling up on fiber and low-calorie liquids are key. Low-fat soups for example, especially varieties that are loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables, are an excellent way to go. They are both filling and low in calories.

Vegetables, besides being loaded with vitamins and minerals, primarily consist of water and fiber, which help to curb hunger.

And if you add grains such as rice or whole-wheat pasta, you get lots of soluble dietary fiber, which have been shown to be appetite-satisfying, while also helping the body maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Low-fat proteins, such as white-meat chicken and turkey, tofu, low-fat cheese and yogurt, also help to fill you up. Beans and other legumes, such as lentils, are an excellent source of both rib-sticking protein and fiber.

This cheesy baked lentils, rice and turkey casserole is a heartwarming comfort dish that contains a little bit of all these foods.

Lean, ground turkey and rice are combined with canned lentil soup, which in the twist of a can opener provides protein, fiber and flavor to this dish. The recipe calls for fresh spinach, but sauteed Swiss chard or broccoli could be substituted.

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CHEESY BAKED LENTILS, RICE AND TURKEY CASSEROLE

Start to finish: 1 hour 5 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces turkey breast, cut into bite-size cubes

1 small yellow onion, chopped

19-ounce can lentil soup

5-ounce package fresh spinach (about 2 cups packed)

3/4 cup converted (parboiled) brown rice

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup grated reduced-fat Swiss cheese

1/2 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the turkey and onions and saute until the turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and saute for another minute. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Add the soup, rice, thyme, salt, pepper and water. Stir to combine. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

Uncover and sprinkle with both cheeses. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 321 calories; 33 calories from fat (10 percent of total calories); 4 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 32 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrate; 29 g protein; 5 g fiber; 620 mg sodium.

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