MealEnders Blog

Tami’s Tips: 5 Ways to Add A Burst of Flavor to Your Food with Healthy Seasonings

By Tami Lyon, MPH, RD
April 11, 2018

Healthy Seasonings
 

Are you feeling the pressure to be ultra-clean with your diet? Plain grilled, steamed and boiled foods may be healthy, but they fall short in flavor. Ultimately, this type of diet may lead to boredom and leave you feeling unsatisfied. This may evoke the desire to indulge before or after meal time, causing you to consume excess calories. The good news is that there are plenty of healthy seasonings you can add to boost the flavor and excitement quotient of your foods!

Use these tips to create healthy and delicious meals that will delight your taste buds, while still being in line with your weight loss goals.

1) Spices are your friend.

Take advantage of the spice cabinet while cooking your meals. Dried herbs and spices are a low-calorie way to add flavor and pizzaz to your dishes. They also allow you to develop your own personal cooking style, as unique flavors can be created by using a mix of different seasonings. Take a look at some sample spice combos below, all of which would be delicious on grilled chicken (or use the Italian on a mild white fish like cod or tilapia – just coat before grilling). Don’t be afraid to get creative and devise your own mix too!

Taco Seasoning: 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. black pepper (optional)

Ranch Seasoning: 1/4 cup dried parsley leaf, 1 Tbsp. dill weed, 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. basil leaf (optional), 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Italian Seasoning: 2 Tbsp. dried basil, 2 Tbsp. dried oregano, 2 Tbsp. dried rosemary, 2 Tbsp. dried marjoram, 2 Tbsp. dried cilantro, 2 Tbsp. dried thyme, 2 Tbsp.dried savory,2 Tbsp.red pepper flakes

2) A little bit of fresh herbs go a long way.

Similar to dried spices, fresh herbs are a great way to add a burst of fresh flavor to your meals. Fresh herbs are fragrant and tasteful, and you only need a small bunch to add zest to a dish. In addition, they are historically prized for their curative properties, such as mint for indigestion and basil for kidney problems. If you have a green thumb, you should also consider growing your favorite herbs in your backyard or even in a planter in your home.

Some of our favorite herb centered dishes are below!

– Greek tzatziki sauce, packed with flavorful dill

Rosemary roasted potatoes that are a perfect side to any protein

– A simple feta and watermelon salad, seasoned with mint and excellent for summer time

– A creamy avocado basil pesto, ideal as a sauce to top whole wheat pasta or as a sandwich spread 

3) A squeeze of citrus.

Citrus can brighten up and bring out the flavor in any recipe! Add a squeeze of lemon juice on top of a roasted broccoli dish or a bit of lime juice on top of homemade guacamole. Citrus juice does more than just add tang. It works to stop the enzymatic browning that occurs in the flesh of many fruits (apples, avocados, pears and peaches) to keep your foods brighter for longer.

And, it’s not all about the juice. The skin of citrus fruit is packed with flavor. Invest in a microplane or grater to get the most out of your citrus fruits. Zest an orange over honey roasted carrots, and add some lemon zest as the perfect pairing for grilled or broiled fish

Besides adding flavor, citrus fruits are also full of vitamin C and other nutrients, such as potassium, folate, calcium, and a variety of phytochemicals. With no sodium or fat, citrus fruits are the perfect low-calorie healthy seasonings for a wide range of dishes.

4) A vinaigrette topping.

Vinaigrettes are made by mixing an oil with something acidic such as vinegar or lemon juice. Salt, herbs or spices can then be added to create a unique and exciting taste. Given the vast array of potential ingredients, the flavor possibilities are endless. Unlike other sauces, vinaigrettes don’t contain fatty dairy or mayonnaise. Instead, you can choose a healthy oil, like olive oil, for your blend and pack it with fresh and healthy ingredients, making the perfect flavor booster for your meal.

Most people use vinaigrettes to dress salads, but there is no need to stop there. Try a vinaigrette as a marinade for chicken or fish, toss it  with roasted veggies, or even reduce it down to a syrup to drizzle over berries for dessert.

Although you can buy bottled vinaigrette at the grocery store, try making some at home instead. This way, you can really control what ingredients go into it. Check out some recipe ideas here. Don’t be afraid to mix and match and create your own too!

5) Bring on the heat.

Hot sauce is a great way to add flavor to any dish without adding extra calories. Most hot sauces are very low-calorie, and some are even calorie free (check out Tabasco and Cholula). Studies have shown that people eat fewer calories throughout the day when they consume spicy food. Spicy food can also stimulate your cardiovascular system and cause your body to release endorphins and dopamine, which can lead to a boost in your mood and energy level, and even act as an aphrodisiac. Hot pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and fresh or dried hot peppers (jalapeños or habaneros, for example) have the same effect.

If you’re feeling adventurous and can handle the heat, try making your own hot sauce! You can find a sample recipe here.

Healthy, flavorful meals can seem like an oxymoron. However, there are plenty of easy ways and thousands of flavor combinations you can create with a variety of healthy seasonings that will take lean, healthy foods from drab to delicious. Try them out today!

 

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