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6 skinny (and delicious) foods for weight loss

You don't need to skimp on flavor in order to eat healthy. TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer shares tasty options to help you stick to your diet.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

I’m a firm believer that losing weight doesn’t mean you have to subsist on bland, boring cardboard. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of strategic skinny eats, each of which has its own unique way of satisfying your taste buds while blunting your appetite. I encourage you to peruse my list and use these tasty bites to your calorie-burning advantage!

Shrimp cocktail
At around 8 calories apiece, shrimp are a fabulous source of lean protein, which helps rev your metabolism and keeps you feeling full for hours. Next time you dine out, start your meal with a shrimp cocktail appetizer. When you’re eating at home, dunk your shrimp in this could-not-be-easier cocktail sauce recipe: Simply combine 1 tablespoon ketchup with 1 teaspoon bottled horseradish, (add a squeeze of lemon or a splash of hot sauce for extra zing).

Fiery chicken salad
Adding a few dashes of fiery hot sauce to your food sloooows down your eating big time so you’re less likely to eat past the point of fullness. For a simple lunch, whip up a chicken salad with diced chicken breast, 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayo, hot sauce to taste, and any diced veggies on hand. Serve over a bed of lettuce (and have a glass of water handy!).

Pumpkin pudding
Decadent, creamy pudding for less than 150 calories — and it helps you lose weight! Just combine a 6-ounce container of nonfat vanilla yogurt with ½ cup canned 100% pure pumpkin puree and a dash of cinnamon. The pumpkin bulks up the yogurt — already a protein-rich, nutrient-packed food — and adds a hefty dose of fiber. This winning combo of protein and fiber expands in your stomach, keeping you full long after you finish, so you’re not looking for more munchies an hour later.

Vegetable soup
Studies have shown that just by starting a meal with a fiber-rich bowl of broth-based veggie soup, you can reduce your total calorie intake by 20 percent. The soup takes the edge of your hunger and fills you up quickly, so you end up eating less of your main entrée. If you’re looking for a new recipe to call your own, try Joy’s Skinny Veggie Soup — and be forewarned, the Creole version is super spicy!

Cucumber tomato onion salad
Try my low-cal version of this classic Mediterranean salad. Slice up one whole cucumber, one tomato, and half a red onion, then toss all the vegetables with light vinaigrette or unlimited vinegar (balsamic or red wine is best) plus 1 teaspoon olive oil. The entire salad has less than 150 calories! Thanks to their high percentage of water (95%!), cucumbers are a low-calorie, high-volume and top-notch food for weight loss!

Ginger green tea
Nursing a warm mug of tea is a calorie-free way to de-stress after a long day without falling prey to emotional eating. As an added bonus, research suggests that regularly drinking green tea may give your metabolism a slight boost. Steep your tea with a thin slice of ginger root for an extra punch of flavor.

For more information on healthy eating, visit .