Interesting foods to pack in the calories?
July 17, 2013 5:26 PM   Subscribe

I need 3000 to 3500 calories a day to maintain my current (healthy) weight. Currently, I eat like a normal person, plus a full-sized bag of chips. This keeps my weight stable, but is obviously not ideal. Sometimes I have a fourth meal instead. I also eat a lot of peanuts. I love cooking and eating, but I'm kind of annoyed by this. It's feeling a bit like a chore. Ideas for foods / meals that are high calorie and healthy?
posted by Nothing to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Fats are your friend. Guacamole is nutrient-dense and calorie packed. Full-fat yogurt is delicious, though it may taste extremely rich to you if you're used to less-fat yogurt. Ricotta is tasty mixed into pasta dishes. Bacon fat will up the calorie factor and deliciousness factor of any vegetable side dish.

Even though it's easy to say to pile on the carbs by eating a pound of pasta or something, I think going high-fat is easier on the body and has more benefits- plus, you won't necessarily feel like you have to 'stuff' yourself when you're just eating food that's calorically denser.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:34 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would absolutely switch out the bag of chips for a jar of peanut butter or nutella.
posted by at 5:38 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Drip extra extra olive oil into your meals. Pizza, burritos, salads, sandwiches, whatever. 4 table spoons a day is almost 500 calories, and it's certainly better than getting those calories from potato chips.
posted by alligatorman at 5:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: ooh! This is me also. Hummus is your friend -- 70 calories in one spoonful, not even including the bread or vegetables you add to that. Also I started putting my sandwiches on bagels (400 calories) to up the carbs. Yummy question!
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:51 PM on July 17, 2013

Best answer: I found that when I was watching calories the biggest things that were healthy but also calorie laden were

- nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans can be tossed into anything. ten almonds is 100 cals more or less.
- dairy: especially soft cheese, full fat milk and yogurt and things made with a lot of butter
- oils: olive oil and adding extra oil in cooking or frying things and not draining too carefully

And a few things were just "You never get to eat those" for me which were fried meats, whoopie pies (or anything with lard, you could probably make some calorie-laden biscuits and add butter and honey and be set) and custardy types of things.
posted by jessamyn at 5:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I asked this question a few years ago. It has some of my own pickiness embedded in it, but there are lots of great suggestions.
  • Yogurt Sauces! Because summer is a tough time to eat lasagne and other heavy comfort foods which are particularly calorific.
  • Add peanut butter to lots of things (apples, english muffins)
  • More hummus. Also extra good in summer. I like this with fried pita chips, but try to eat it with veggies because that's more responsible.
  • Focus on adding fat instead of carbs (so, this is in line with adding olive oil to things instead of reaching for potato chips.)
  • Salads are a vehicle for dressing. And cheese.
  • Cheese everywhere.
  • Nuts. When packaged nuts are on sale I buy them and eat a handful a day for as long as they last me.
  • I add butter. I cook fish with a pat of butter in foil packets in the oven. In fact, I add butter to lots of things - toast and jam always have butter.
  • I make lasagne when I have access to a freezer, and since I'm the only person I feed, I freeze it in single (or sometimes double) portions, so I can reheat. This way I don't have to eat lasagne for a whole straight week. Lasagne with lots of cheese and meat and some veggies.
  • Same thing with crockpot type meals - make a huge batch, freeze in portions. This is easy to rotate through the freezer.
  • My previous question about Chicken casserole gave me some fun ideas! The ones I make are usually with a cream based sauce (I use a recipe for generic "cream of something soup" instead of buying the cans. Because the canned stuff is kind of gross. And expensive.)

posted by bilabial at 6:05 PM on July 17, 2013

Chocolate milk! Find a brand based on whole milk. As a bonus you get to be a kid again.
posted by Silvertree at 6:06 PM on July 17, 2013

Start adding extra olive oil to anything it reasonably goes with. Every tablespoon is an extra 119 calories.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:09 PM on July 17, 2013

Avocado. Whole, in salads, in sandwiches, in smoothies, in guacamole.
posted by Salamander at 6:22 PM on July 17, 2013

Yeah, I get this too, especially in the summer when it's hot as hell and my appetite basically vanishes. For me, it's helpful to switch from drinking water to something with (non-sugar, non-alcohol) calories in it — whole milk, or soy milk, or smoothies with yogurt or peanut butter in 'em, or etcetera.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:29 PM on July 17, 2013

Olive oil is great, butter is great, coconut oil is great, heavy cream is great. I have recently started putting a few tablespoons of coconut cream in my coffee in the morning (1 tbsp = 50 calories).

I also buy a lot of fatty cuts of meat and prepare them so that I end up eating all of the fat that renders out of them. Like, I'll get a pork shoulder and make carnitas (basically, cut the shoulder into fist-sized hunks and braise them in saltwater until the water has boiled away and the meat is falling-apart tender, and fry the pieces in the fat until they are crisp on the outsides and tender inside; fish them out of the fat and then stir it into refried beans, because waste not want not; also, eat with guacamole!); or confit everything; or braise any really fatty and connective tissue-y meat in the oven and use the braising liquid to make gravy.

I excised all the low-fat versions of things from my entire life, and once they were gone from the fridge it helped me get a few more calories in every day without any special expenditure of effort. Soft cheeses, whole milk, whipping cream (33% milk fat) instead of coffee cream (18%), full-fat yogurt (my favourite has 7-10% milk fat).
posted by bewilderbeast at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2013

(On non-preview: Oh, man, avocado. So there's a bubble tea joint near my old apartment that makes avocado-and-milk smoothies. Just avocado and whole milk and a dash of sugar and some ice cubes, blenderized. Now that is a nice cold refreshing beverage to keep yourself caloried-up on a hot day.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Avocado smoothies are really good. I sometimes do a whole avocado, a banana and some whole milk yogurt. Sometimes add spinach or chard to this as well.

Also avocado, whole milk yogurt and frozen blueberries or frozen mango.
posted by fromageball at 6:45 PM on July 17, 2013

Ooh, dates stuffed with nut butter! I'm going to go eat some right now, in fact, because it's too hot to cook tonight.

(A note on the fat content of cheeses: my local cheesemonger tells me that soft cheeses are typically soft because of their water content, not fat, and that something hard like a cheddar is likely to be fattier. I'm sure you can't go wrong eating all the cheeses, though. Goat or blue cheese is good for stuffing into dates too.)
posted by clavicle at 7:00 PM on July 17, 2013

Between-meal snacks: pecans (or other nuts) + chocolate chips + pretzels, mixed together with a generous dollop of coconut oil. Any kind of GORP or trail mix or granola type snack will be good, and you can add coconut oil and honey to up the calories. Easy, and you can grab a handful whenever you have a free moment without having to make a production.

Also - do you drink coffee? Try a breve -- which is like a latte but made with half and half.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:17 PM on July 17, 2013

My wife had major surgery and was on a liquid diet for a few weeks. I talked with the weightlifters I know since she needed to pack in calories and keep her weight up (and the doctors were like "I dunno, just have her drink a bunch of Ensure?" and she was going to murder me or I was going to have to insert a feeding tube if I poured 10+ Ensure a day down her).

My formula for her shakes was something like this:

Vanilla ice cream (whole fat, real "ice cream", not Frozen Dairy Dessert or anything)
2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
Can of fruit or frozen fruit (Didn't have time to do fresh with all the surgery stuff)
Whole milk
Drizzle of olive oil

Vanilla ice cream (whole fat, real "ice cream", not Frozen Dairy Dessert or anything)
Chocolate syrup
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
Peanut butter
Whole milk
Drizzle of olive oil

I also found, in the aisle with the pureed foods for old people, these little packets that are basically a bunch of oils you throw in to add calories when they're not eating enough. I think they were like 300 calories a packet. So I'd dump a few of those in, too.

The key is strong flavors like the fruit or the chocolate and peanut butter so you're only tasting MY MOUTH IS FULL OF CHOCOLATE rather than "why am I drinking olive oil?"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:36 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can also do savoury smoothies with cottage, cream or riccota cheese, plain yogurt, milk or milk powder, and/ or sour cream (14% sour cream has magnificent amounts of calories). I usually do mine based on tomato juice, throw in tofu, veggies, maybe mushrooms, dairy and oil. Tomato-based beverages have a strong flavour so it doesn't taste like you're drinking spinach. Sometimes I let the concoction hang out in the fridge for a while and eat it as cold soup with croutons and chives on top.

Cream soups are a good way to go and in the summer you can make lots of chilled cream soups.

One cup of whole milk has the same amount of calories as one can of coke.

Cocanut, sesame, almond, flax and sunflower oil are some alternatives when you get sick of olive.

Seeds are high in calories as are nuts.

5 triscuits has 100 calories. 2 tablespoons of liverwurst has 100 calories.
posted by windykites at 8:02 PM on July 17, 2013

I did this for a summer. Indeed, fat was the key to fit all the calories into a reasonable volume:
- if you eat salads, dress them liberally with olive oil
- if you stir-fry your vegetables or make fried rice, toss everything in dark toasted sesame oil afterward. In addition to the calories, it also adds a wonderful aroma and flavor.
- if you eat oatmeal, make it with whole milk, a chunk of butter, and two or three eggs. Just crack the eggs in and stir vigorously until they cook into little shreds distributed throughout the oatmeal.
- if you eat cold cereal in milk, substitute half-and-half.
- if you make a sandwich, butter the bread and add extra cheese

Less obvious but also important was fiber and complex carbs, in order to smooth out the absorption curve:
- if you eat anything made from wheat flour, make it whole wheat flour.
- if you eat rice, make it brown rice.
- lentils (simmered with fatty meat)
- chickpeas (esp. hummus with tahini and olive oil)
- potatoes

Also, I assume if you're just maintaining weight at 4000kcal/day, then you're probably pretty active, in which case you probably sweat a lot. Don't forget to drink lots of water, and also consider substituting Morton's Lite for your table salt. It's half potassium chloride. Most sports drinks do not have enough potassium.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:05 PM on July 17, 2013

Warm fresh-baked bread dipped in olive oil. Followed by pasta with cheese and meat. Followed by creme brûlée or flan.
posted by Dansaman at 1:21 AM on July 18, 2013

What about pesto? It's got olive oil and cheese and pine nuts, which will all be calorie-dense; it's got a lot of flavor; it can go with plenty of other foods (pasta, sandwiches, veggies; slather it on top of a chicken breast).

You can make enough for a few days and put it in the fridge; if you put a thin coat of olive oil on top, it won't turn brown overnight.
posted by kristi at 12:05 PM on July 18, 2013

Also, there are a bunch of straight-up oils that just about everyone recommends for EFAs and stuff: fish oil is the favorite, but if you're vegetarian or just allergic like I am, flaxseed oil is good too.
posted by paultopia at 2:27 PM on July 20, 2013

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