It’s Not Easy Beaning Green

Apologies to Kermit:)

So I have a bit of a dilemma that I never expected.  Do I stop eating green beans?

Here’s the thing… almost every afternoon I roast myself a big batch of “green bean fries.”  I thought it was a good thing.  Increasing my veggie intake.  Being healthy.  Doing that instead of something I’d typically fall back on (and prefer) like crackers or junk food.  I was giving myself a pat on the back for this habit that seems pretty ingrained by now.

Until I started my online tracking.  And started paying attention to calories.  Hello!  Almost 200 calories for green beans!!  I knew I was eating a lot.  But my past “diet” conditioning comes from Weight Watchers, where veggies have zero points, and South Beach Diet, where we strive for over four cups of veggies a day.  Veggies = good.  Mega-calories = bad.

I had already made changes to how I prepare them.  Months back I had stopped coating them in olive oil and now just give a little mist to the pan and beans.  And not long ago I stopped adding a sprinkle of salt, as I make strides towards lowering my sodium intake.  It’s just a small bowl of beans.  What could be bad about that?!

I guess it is all about quantity here rather than quality.  Since this time of year the stores don’t have nice fresh green beans for me to roast, I’ve taken to tossing a whole bag of frozen beans onto the pan.  Didn’t pay attention to the nutritional information or the number of servings per bag.  It was beans!  It fit in one smallish bowl!  Beans!  Green!

So I started paying closer attention to the calorie count for other veggies I was eating.  I hear people say that the count is so low you could eat as many veggies as you want.  Not!  But I did see that some do have many fewer calories.  Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower… for example.  ABC.  Not nearly as tasty as green bean fries.  But maybe the time has come to make a sacrifice to get myself where I want to be.  I did the math.  My green bean fries were about 2.5 cups and 175 calories (The later based on the bag’s nutritional information and the former based on my rough post-cooking measuring.  It’s hard to get those long suckers into a measuring cup.)  If I switch to cauliflower I’d be saving somewhere near 100 calories a day.  That’s 10 pounds a year just from making that one small switch (if I eat the veggies every day).  TEN pounds without cutting or changing anything else!  Wowza.  On me, 10 pounds is two sizes!

Never did I imagine having to give up my afternoon veggie fix.  Green beans.  Who’d have thunk it?  I know… in the scheme of things it really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.  But, then again, 10 pounds is a pretty big hill of beans!

What’s your approach to eating veggies?  Eat any and all without counting calories?



Filed under dieting, food

70 responses to “It’s Not Easy Beaning Green

  1. Yep, any and all, as much variety as possible. The more colours the better. My weekend salads often have more than 20 different ingredients.

  2. I was actually considering not counting the calories for fruits and veggies, ala the WW approach. This post has put me on alert though. YIKES! I never would have guessed. I seem to think all fruits and veggies are like 25 calories a serving. LOL!

  3. I usually try to keep within portion sizes. It is hard though.

  4. First, interesting habit– a late afternoon veggie snack.. Maybe I’ll investigate. Then–amazing that green beans are so calorific. I think roasted asparagus are amazing, too. Of course the pocket book might object a bit more . . . .

    • Karen

      I think it evolved from both an attempt to eat more veggies and sometimes not being hungry enough for them with lunch. So some days I eat my lunch with veggies and some days I eat the veggie part later. Yes… asparagus is expensive! I prefer them roasted too. Actually, I prefer most veggies roasted now, I think.

  5. Whooooo knew?! YOu mean the whole bag isn’t a serving? I mean, it’s veggies! Hmmmm. I bet the whole bag of frozen peaches isn’t a serving, eitehr. sighhhh.

    OK. Here’s the thing, tho. Look how many fewer calories those beans are than if you had REAL fries! Look at all of tthe calories you’re saving!

    IF we get weird enough, we will only drink water….and leave out the ice cubes to spare bulk.


  6. Fried green beans, never thought of it. Sounds good! Looks good! Might try it! Atleast it wasn’t a teeny timy 200 calories burger. Right? I like ABC. Never thought of frying cauli. Hmmm, I might have to try that now that you mention it. 🙂 I’ve been steaming everything. Are they crunchy?

  7. I do estimates on the calories in vegetables… I add it in when I make a meal plan each week. It’s when I deviate from my plan that’s an issue. Green beans are good for you though… maybe just do it every other day instead of every day. Oh, have you tried making Kale Chips? I’m guessing kale is nearly calorie free.

    • Karen

      I have so been meaning to try those! I even know the title for my blog post when I do:) I just never remember to get it at the store.

  8. Wow – 200 calories for 2.5 cups of green beans. I would have never guessed that. I would probably go with the WW method because I don’t eat enough veggies at all. I would try to reduce calories in other areas or increase my excercise. Ha! I laughed just typing that – I don’t exercise either. 🙂

    • Karen

      I think it is so high because I roast them and that takes some of the water and bulk out. I suspect if I measured the green beans before I cooked them, they would be more than 2.5 cups. Kinda like how dried fruit is so much more calorie dense than fresh fruit.

  9. Clever post which I’m sure even Kermit would love! I had to cut back on unlimited veggies too last year, when I would roast a big pan of sweet potatoes, squash and carrots and then eat them like crazy. Now, I try to focus on reasonable portions – like a half cup of baby carrots with a little hummus or steamed broccoli as our standard green item with dinner.

    • Karen

      I gave up my sweet potato “fries” ages ago for that very reason. I also discovered last year that I actually like carrots roasted, with some SF maple syrup on them. (I used to hate cooked carrots.) But figured those were pretty high calorie too. I should try squash just for grins since it has not been a veggie I have liked in the past.

  10. Wow! I hadn’t paid attention to that until you mentioned it on your post. Dailyburn estimates 0.5 cup for 22 cals (110 for 2.5 cups). Maybe the frozen ones have a higher calorie count.

    Veggies and especially green beans are very good sources of fiber, so apart from the usual culprits(avocado, potatoes…), I keep them in my diet but monitor the quantity so that it fits into my daily calorie allowance.

    You could also try roasting broccoli. I usually coat it very lightly in olive oil, season it and put in the oven until it tenders and browns a bit, then I squeeze some lemon juice over it. It’s delicious and gives another twist to the broccoli(steamed broccoli is so boring sometimes).

    • Karen

      I think it works out that way because when I roast them for a long time they sort of shrivel up and become more calorie dense, like dried fruit as opposed to fresh fruit. If that makes sense. I did try broccoli before and should go back to it again. Just don’t like it as much. But it is soooo healthy:)

  11. hmmm, when I look up boiled fresh green beans, it’s 44 calories per cup. Odd yours are so much higher.

    That said, beans joins carrots and potatoes as the highest calorie veggies because of the starch. So they have to be limited. As you have discovered.

    Sorry you have to cut back (to a cup?) of green bean fries, or eliminate them most days. 😦

  12. and yes, I know you weren’t boiling them, but the end result should’ve been the same, calorie-wise…

    • Karen

      I think the calorie count is higher because I roast them for a long time so they lose some of the water content that would bulk them up. If I measure them before cooking I think it would be more. Like dried fruit as opposed to fresh fruit. Unfortunately, I much prefer them nicely over-roasted:) My bias has always been that a green veggie is low cal. I guess I was wrong:)

  13. Ewa

    I am not sold on calories in / calories out theory. There are many more variables that will determine how our bodies metabolize what we eat. As for veggies, I would just go for variety.

  14. I wonder if you’re estimating a little high for the spritz of olive oil? But I highly recommend roasting broccoli and cauliflower together – also with just a spritz from the Misto of olive oil – and then shuffle them around during the roasting a couple times – they get nice and brownish and have a wonderful flavor.

    I love veggies – okra fries are also delish and I can eat pans of them. Damn – again the moderation thing. A cup is good – mass quantities – not good. Even with healthy stuff. What’s a fat girl to do???

    • Karen

      I am not even adding in the little oil! I think the issue is that when I roast them they become more calorie dense since they sort of lose water content and shrivel up a bit. Have you done the cauliflower “popcorn?” I like that too but a lot more work than just tossing a bag of beans on a pan. Never tried okra myself.

  15. Hi Karen. Well, I never would have thought to eat a whole bag of frozen green beans for a mini meal or snack… so..
    I can get quite a few servings out of a bog a frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s & honestly, the serving size is decent & I also pair a lean portion size of protein with them if it a mini meal. I put some salt free spices or a bit of my fav mustard flavor on them.

    O also buy this huge bag of mixed frozen veggies from Costco broccoli cauliflower, carrots, yellow carrot & that last me for quite a while. Personally on the cruciferous veggies, I have to be careful.

    Keep eating your veggies but not a whole bag at a time… 😉

    • Karen

      I actually think of you sometimes when I eat them because it reminded me of how you split your meals into smaller ones. Part of how this started was I used to have them with my lunch and just didn’t need that much food then so decided to do the veggies later.

  16. i refuse to give up veggies i have a veggie tray i fix every morning and i mibble on that all day long

  17. I wouldn’t stop eating them, its all about moderation. If you over eat any food it can become a “problem”.

    • Karen

      I have amazed myself in the past year as I realized how easy it was for me to overeat something that would be considered healthy. Bread and peanut butter are two examples.

  18. Randi

    Not all calories are created equal. Too me eating 200 calories of veggies is way better than eating 200 calories of meat/bread/processed food.

    This is the only place I think the calorie in/calorie out thing misses the mark with most people. You have to understand what a calorie (and in turn what nutritional value comes with it) is. 200 calories of veggies is easier/quicker to burn off and the nutritional value of it benefits your body more.

    I’d almost always go over my calories wating veggies and it never effect my weight loss. Now if it was bread…done weight was coming off then. lol

    • Karen

      I do agree that not all calories are created equal. And I know this is also behind the new Weight Watchers plan that has fruit as no points too. I guess the key for me always comes back to eating when I am physically hungry. If I did that with everything, I’d be cruising:)

  19. Jan

    “Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.” So easily said; so hard to do. Here’s a suggestion if the green beans are triggering you to eat more than you want – don’t cook more than 1 cup at a time.

    Unlimited veggies? One of my fattest friends is a strict vegetarian…

  20. sunnydaze

    I’m on WW so I count them as zero – provided they are plain. I just bought a massive bag of french green beans at Costco and planned on roasting them in the oven with a little olive oil. After reading your post I picture them sitting in my freezer. How weird is that that we are second guessing eating green beans!

    I LOVE roasted cautiflower and brussel sprouts.

    • Karen

      I tried brussel sprouts that way for the first time some months ago. Since I had discovered how much better veggies taste when roasting, I had great hopes. But I still didn’t like them:(

  21. I like the idea of adding in other veggies, but why not just do an extra workout. It’s not that hard to burn off 200 calories. It is pretty healthy.
    Olive oil is really good for you too!

    • Karen

      I think part of what prompted this thinking was when I started tracking and saw that in theory I was burning more calories than I was eating so should have been losing when I was maintaining! So I started questioning things.

  22. Keep the beans but not so many and add a few negative calorie foods in there for ultimate caloric equilibrium 🙂

  23. I’m learning to eat a variety of veggies cooked a variety of ways ( if you’re interested). I’m also learning to appreciate different vegetables I NEVER thought I’d try or like (collard greens, anyone?). I also stopped counting calories; it drove me crazy, but that’s just me. It’s all such a learning process, isn’t it?

    • Karen

      I hate counting calories or measuring portions. Most of the time, I do fine without that. But lately I have been really struggling to lose any weight so went back to basics. Sigh.

  24. I’m with Ewa on not being entirely sold on the calories in/calories out thing. That is a pretty good basic guideline, but 200 calories of veggies is better for your body than 200 calories of cake. It’s just processed differently. Also, the veggies will have other important nutrients like fiber and vitamins, whereas the cake with spike your blood glucose and drop it like it’s hot soon after. I don’t think eating should be quite as complicated as we tend to make it.

    • Karen

      Ah – you have just nailed my personality! I tend to over-complicate everything:(

      • I’m sorry! I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad. I tend to over-complicate everything, too. It’s so hard for me to not get caught up in all of the options or crazy details of every little thing. I was just trying to share things I’m trying to work on, too 🙂

        • Karen

          Oh you didn’t! No worries. I remember when I read the book “Don’t sweat the small stuff” for book club years ago and I thought “That is so talking to me!”

  25. 1 lb of green beans are 145 calories, your spray of olive oil can’t be more than 1 tsp- so that’s another 40 calories. So unless you are eating a pound of green beans a day you may be over-estimating. 10 seconds of a misto spray is 1 tsp 🙂

    Frozen are pretty much as good as fresh- canned is the worst.

  26. It’s funny you mention that! I have been eating zucchini and summer squash with some Pam and Adobo seasoning a lot lately, almost every afternoon too! I’m on WW so I figure it is 0pts but maybe I need to look up the calories to be safe! It better not be too much!

    • Karen

      If you are losing weight (assuming you want to), I’d say you don’t have to worry about it. But I have been stalled for a long time so was looking for places I could change things up.

  27. Roz

    Hi Karen,
    So glad I found your site on Fitblogger today. I love it, have bookmarked and will be back often. I’ll be doing the fitblogger post next Monday! Hope you have a great day.

  28. And I thought I ate a lot of veggies! I can’t imagine eating that many green beans, and I used to be the green bean queen! haha I do count everything but my veggies have never been anything I’ve felt I needed to cut back on. I try putting more in and cutting back on other things if the calories add up to too many.

    • Karen

      I only eat this much when I prepare them this way. Way yummier and more like a snack than a boring side of veggies:0

  29. Good gravy! I can totally relate to this post. Have you had green beans with teriyaki sauce? I have never made this (I need to try that!) But there’s two restaurants that I love to visit that make teriyaki green beans and they are to *DIE* for. Funny, I can relate to this post as far as your previous thoughts on eating veggies because of WW and your aim to lower your sodium intake. I’m rowing the same boat as you sister. 🙂

    • Karen

      Oh veggies in restaurants are almost always better than what I would make. But I am a very bad cook and they add all sorts of yummy, and probably unhealthy, ingredients:)

  30. I don’t worry about fresh fruits and veggies as long as I’m eating them in normal portions. I do count anything I add to them, like oils or dressings. Or chocolate. 🙂

  31. Hi, From SITS!
    I saw your post and had to come looking. WOW, you have a LOT of comments in one day!

    I work with people on these dilemmas a lot (for fitness and nutrition among other things). I like that you took a look at the calorie content of your beans and other things you’re eating. I get a lot of people who think they’re eating healthy but don’t realize they’re racking up the calories in places they’d never expected. So – good going on initiating the diet log!

    I also think that 200 calories is a fine number for a snack. I like the way you did the math and found that you could lose 10 lbs in a year if you ate only 100 calories instead of 200. BUT, the real question is – are you going to eat that other 100 calories somewhere else? If so, from what? Something better ? (Probably not better than beans!).

    Since the total calorie content of your day is what matters, if you’re already at or under your goal for calorie intake, you don’t have to worry about the beans.

    Beans are SO low fat, high in protein, and the fiber doesn’t hurt either. They are a little higher in calories than the average veggie, however. Regardless of the calories, veggies are great and this is a time where I’d say you shouldn’t worry too much about the calories (if they’re not covered in oil, butter, or cheese, that is!) because they’re a high quality food.

    • Karen

      I think the reason I didn’t worry about tossing the whole bag on the pan to roast was because in my mind it was indeed healthy and certainly healthier than many other things I could be eating. But I have been struggling to lose any weight lately, despite in theory burning more calories than I take in each day, so that is what led me to look more closely at things like the beans. You are very right though – if I cut the calories here I might very well add them elsewhere!

  32. When I eat fruits and veggies…regardless of how many I feel better and my clothes fit better. So I would rather eat them because if I don’t I will fill up on the junk. I figure the fruit and veggies are better ya’ know?!

    • Karen

      There is a clear correlation between how many servings of veggies I eat and how many “servings” of crap I eat. When I eat stuff I shouldn’t, I tend not to eat any veggies!

  33. Well oh my gosh Karen! Who knew? I NEVER thought they’d be that high in calories – that stinks ’cause I love green beans! I have been eating Schwan’s frozen broccoli – since I don’t microwave anymore and don’t want to wash the nutrients away in water, I tossed them in a baking dish and started baking them (stir once) until they are a wee bit brown on top (blackened broccoli??) – YUM – salt, pepper and good to go. Of course, no sauce or anything fattening like that *sigh* – but 10 pounds a year just switching from green beans? Wow. I did get away from table salt and switch to Himalayan pink sea salt (not stuff from grocery store) – so much better for you – – I get mine from – they even have flavors and smoked!

    • Karen

      You got caught in my spam filter. Sorry. I try to remember to check that every day or so. Yep, I like them a bit brown too. Really makes them almost sweet or something. I’ll check out that salt. Thanks, Nan.

  34. I really don’t worry about the non carby veggies. The fruits are more of a problem for me – more carbs, more sugar.

    Calories do count and if you aren’t getting the results you want then I say cut back where you can.

    • Karen

      When I heard about the change to WW with zero points for fruit I immediately thought it would be trouble for me! Of course when I went to a meeting and asked the leader about it she confirmed that the theory always is that you don’t eat it if you aren’t hungry. Which is what it all boils down to for me anyways:(

  35. I have been wondering about these veggie things lately. Like do I count the spinach portion before or after I cook it? I think that the portion has to be measured before it is cooked, because unlike meat, it does not lose fat calories, just moisture and that doesn’t change the calorie count, just the density of the food itself. It can drive you crazy thinking about food!!

    • Karen

      And therein lies the rub. My bag of beans is probably much more quantity before I cook them. If I steamed them I’d probably eat way less. But then again, I’d enjoy them less too and maybe any veggies that I like to eat are a good thing:)

  36. well, this is just annoying. Having to decide whether to cut out a veggie, too?? When will the madness end? Seriously. It’s bad enough that we make all of these other sacrifices; we should at least be able to eat the veggies that we like, right? OK, I’m done complaining and I see that I’m not being helpful at all, either. lol

  37. Im an any and all-er
    even before I was an intuitive eater as, for me, I knew it was beer and pizza not bell peppers and green beans which helped me to gain my freshwoman forty 🙂

  38. Darla

    Mmmm, I love green beans – steamed with a bit of Mrs. Dash – no butter. I don’t count veggies because I usually just steam them with no extras 🙂

  39. I find I can eat a lot more green beans than cauliflower or broccoli, so I don’t rely on them (unless I’m stuck like I have been this week). For me, I guess I’d look at what I’m eating overall and if the green beans were the only thing left to cut, then I’d cut them. However, in my case, there would be MANY other things I could cut out before vegetables. 🙂

  40. I don’t count fruits and veggies! I think it’s all the other things that I should be counting! I find that my weight goes down when I eat a lot of veggies and fruits.

  41. I don’t know if I’d give them up. Beans even green are good for you and they keep you fuller longer. I know when I make beans I can’t believe 1 can is like 300 calories!

    Sad we have to be so picky!

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