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When you cut calories in your diet to try to lose weight, do you end up with bland, tasteless meals? It is important to “pump up” your diet with lots of flavor to help you keep those taste buds happy! Let’s look at some really simple ways to keep your meals super flavorful using ingredients you probably already have on hand.
1. Flavored Vinegar- Flavored vinegars look gorgeous lined up on your pantry shelf and are a great way to add loads of flavor to salads, entrees and many other dishes. Find an empty glass jar and add several sprigs of your favorite whole herbs such as rosemary, thyme, dill, sage, etc. (Avoid ground herbs as they will make the vinegar cloudy.) Next, fill jar with a good quality vinegar such as rice wine, red wine or white wine vinegar. Add the stopper (avoid using metal) and allow vinegar to sit overnight. The next day you may have to add more vinegar as the herbs will absorb a small amount. The vinegar will be ready to use immediately. Keep adding vinegar as needed to keep the herbs covered as you use it. This vinegar will be almost calorie free and will add a wonderful flavor to meals!
2. Cinnamon- Cinnamon is a very useful spice in the diet of anyone trying to lose weight or following a special diet for diabetes. Cinnamon has been shown to help normalize blood glucose levels. It adds a delicious “sweet” flavor to grains, cereals, fruits, and even tomato dishes- to name just a few uses. Try adding cinnamon to your diet each day to add not only flavor, but also glucose normalizing properties which are helpful during weight loss.
3. Nutritional Yeast- What exactly is nutritional yeast? Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of yeast that is sold in flaked or powder form. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor so it can be sprinkled on foods like veggies, popcorn, etc. in place of cheese. This will help lower calories while adding back lots of flavor. This seasoning is also a good source of B vitamins and protein , so feel free to use this flavor boost daily.
4. Vanilla and Flavoring Extracts- Vanilla is one of the most commonly used flavorings of all. Don’t limit your use of vanilla to baked goods only! Vanilla can be purchased in various forms such as whole bean and paste. Why not try some on fruit, cereal or even added to your morning yogurt? Studies show the odor of food plays a role is helping us feel satisfied after a meal- vanilla can definitely help make your foods smell wonderfully delicious!
5. Garlic and Onions- Everyone knows how these 2 seasonings can really kick up the flavor in foods! The key, though, is you actually have to add them to your food! So many times, if you are in a hurry, you may not take the time to peel and chop an onion or garlic clove to add to your meal. Try buying pre chopped garlic in a small container and keep in your refrigerator to quickly add while cooking. You can purchase frozen, chopped onions and keep these nearby in your freezer to grab and add to meals in a hurry. Your taste buds will thank you!
6. Soy sauce and Worcestershire Sauce- These sauces are relatively high in sodium, so use just small amounts to pump up the flavor in so many dishes including veggies and main dish recipes. Be sure to store these items and also hot sauce in an easy to reach cabinet in your kitchen so you can quickly add a dab as needed.
7. Pimentoes- Pimento use is not limited to just casseroles! These colorful peppers will brighten up veggies, main dishes and any food that needs just a touch of color and a nice flavor boost. In fact, any variety of pepper is low in calories and bursting with flavor. Be sure to include these each day for a good dose of vitamin C and potassium.
8. Lemon and Lime Juice- Lemon and lime juices add a great flavor boost to almost any veggie such as asparagus, broccoli, and many others. Keep a small bowl of lemon or lime wedges in your refrigerator so you can easily add a squeeze of flavor to your water bottle. Lemon juice can also prevent fruits such as bananas and apples from browning so you can keep a bowl of cut up fruit in your refrigerator for easy access.
9. Herbs- Herbs are excellent flavor enhancers and are a great source of antioxidants in your diet. Herbs can be used individually or blend your favorites and place in a shaker bottle near your stove. Keep your salads interesting by sprinkling dill, savory or other favorite herbs or blends on top. Herbs can be added to your favorite entrees such as chicken breasts, fish, and also to foods such as soups and stews. Be sure to check the dates on your herb bottles and replace as needed to keep flavors at their peak.
10. Salsa- Salsa is one of the most versatile condiments you can keep in your pantry! It can be added to rice, chicken breasts, and so many other foods to keep your meals interesting. Some brands of salsa may be high in sodium, so be sure to check labels if you are following a sodium restricted diet. You can also create a fresh and tasty homemade salsa using tomatoes, herbs and seasonings if desired. Salsa is delicious as a dipper for fresh veggie sticks.