I heard once that the best way to gain weight is to go on a diet. I suppose for some, the idea of a regimented eating schedule only serves to make food the No. 1 thing on their mind.

I found the book “Foods That Make You Lose Weight” interesting, as it explores some food many of us consider a no-no if we are trying to drop a few pounds. One that caught my eye was the banana. When I was pregnant with my daughter, Sarah, Dr. George insisted my daily banana consumption be no more than half a banana. He felt I was gaining too much weight, so calories were counted. The due date ended up being a month earlier than originally expected, so my weight gain was right on target. I now buy small bananas and eat the whole thing.

Here are some ideas from the book:

• Apples: Wash and scrub apples before eating to rid them of any pesticides. Peeling assures the film is gone, but it also removes lots of fiber.

• Broccoli: Skip the cheese sauce. Instead, squeeze some lemon juice over the top or serve raw in salads for added color, nutrients and flavor.

• Garlic: Bake it whole wrapped in foil. The longer it bakes, the more mild the flavor. You will get a much stronger garlic flavor if the garlic is squeezed through a press versus being minced.

• Kiwi: Eat peeled or rub off the brown fuzz and eat the peel. Sliced kiwi is easy to work with as it doesn’t discolor when sliced.

• Lemons and limes: There’s more flavor in the zest than the juice. Use to flavor your tea and you won’t miss the sugar.

• Peppers: Bell peppers are delicious raw, and the flavor is stronger when cooked. They become bitter if overcooked. Avoid drinking water if hot peppers have lit a fire in your mouth as that just spreads the heat. Drinking milk is best, but eating a slice of bread also works.

• Potatoes: low in fat and high in fiber if you don’t load them up with butter, sour cream and cheese. Instead, nonfat yogurt or nonfat sour cream make smart choices as well as sprinklings of herbs and veggies such as broccoli.

• Squash: available all year. Winter squash should be peeled and the seeds removed, while summer squash can be eaten with peel and seeds for easy prep.

• Herbs and spices: Add flavor and aroma to your low-fat cooking to avoid heavy sauces. Add fresh herbs at the end of cooking time and dried ones at the beginning as they hold their flavor under heat.

While I don’t profess to claim that these foods are the be-all, end-all to weight loss, it does make sense that fresh, unprocessed food is always a good option and seasonings, toppings and sauces can make a huge difference.

Today’s first two recipes require a couple of the aforementioned foods. Enjoy the baked potatoes with sensible toppings. Leftovers make fabulous hash browns for breakfast the next morning.

The squash is a tasty side dish we sometimes overlook. Put the hot dogs in the slow cooker, and the moisture from this appliance assures juicy dogs. The dessert is a repeat but worth rerunning. Use your favorite pie filling flavor for a dessert that is asking to be served with ice cream. Your slow cooker is a good friend during these busy summer days.

These recipes are so short and with so few ingredients, I’m sneaking in an extra one this week. Sometimes we need reminded that food doesn’t always need to be fancy. They are all from “Fix It and Forget It.”

Stay dry, and happy eating.

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Baked potatoes

6 medium baking potatoes

Butter or margarine

Prick potatoes with a fork and rub with butter or margarine. Place in slow cooker and cover and cook on high 3 to 5 hours or low 6 to 10 hours. Yields 6 servings.

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Acorn squash

1 acorn squash

Salt

Cinnamon

Butter

Place whole, rinsed squash in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours. Split and remove seeds. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon and dot with butter. Yields 2 servings.

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Perfection hot dogs

12 hot dogs, bratwurst or Polish sausage links

Place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 1 to 2 hours. Yields 12 servings.

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Cherry delight

1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

1 yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup walnuts, optional

Pour pie filling into slow cooker. Combine cake mix and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling. Sprinkle with walnuts. Cover and cook on low 4 hours or high for 2 hours. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.