When it comes to food, we’re conditioned to believe that the only way to add flavour involves dumping copious amounts fat, refined sugar, salt and other high calories taste bombs to a recipe. These ingredients do indeed make food taste fantastic. But unfortunately, they’re definitely at the top the “only eat in moderation” list because most of them are high in calories and rarely offer much nutritional value.
Taste is an immensely important part of any enjoyable meal, and the problem with many healthy foods and recipes is the fact that they’re bland and unsatisfying – mainly because they’re missing these high-calorie flavours that we’re often used to tasting.
But it’s not all bad news. Luckily, there exists a whole world of ingredients that can add huge amounts of satisfying flavour, but with much fewer calories than their energy-dense counterparts. I even wrote about the many health benefits found in a number of herbs and spices a few weeks ago.
Next time you’re cooking healthy, experiment with some of these healthy flavours.
A tablespoon of this delicious spice comes in at just 19 calories. It pairs beautifully with banana and can add flavour to smoothies, apple slices, oatmeal and even curries.
If you’re looking for a way to add freshness to a meal, look no further than a handful of coriander. A cup of chopped coriander leaves comes in at just 5 calories.
Chilli can be an acquired taste, but there’s not doubt that it can completely transform a dish. Two sliced jalapeno chilis contribute only 8 calories to a meal.
A great alternative to sugar-filled tomato or BBQ sauces, mustard is a wonderful condiment to add to your weight loss toolbox. A teaspoon of yellow mustard can liven up any sandwich, wrap or protein for only 3 calories.
This traditional herb can be added to salads, stir-frys, proteins, rice paper rolls, sauces and much more. A quarter cup of chopped basil leaves has less than a calorie.
Lemon or lime juice can be used atop salads and proteins, and is a great additive to dressings, sauces, and even baked goods. A tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice comes in at 2 calories.
Don’t waste citrus fruit after using the juice. Zest is another way to add great citrus flavour to recipes. It also pairs nicely with citrus juice. A teaspoon of finely grated lime zest has just one calorie.
Cumin is often found in Indian cooking. It’s a great seasoning for chicken, tofu and chickpea dishes. A tablespoon of ground cumin seeds provides a huge flavour hit for just 22 calories.
Sugar and other sweeteners aren’t the only ways to make baked goods taste delicious. Vanilla is also a great ingredient for smoothies, oats and nicecream. Half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract is 6 calories.
Apart from smelling delicious, rosemary can take potato and chicken dishes to a new level. It’s also surprisingly good sprinkled on pizza for a smokey flavour. A sprig of rosemary comes in at just 2 calories.
A lack of garlic in some recipes can leave a dish lacking. Some have even dubbed garlic as a superfood because of its health properties. But lucky for you (and perhaps unlucky for those in the vicinity of your breath), three garlic cloves adds less than 15 calories to a meal.
This brightly coloured spice can add tonnes of flavour to many different recipes. A teaspoon of the ginger relative has just 8 calories.
Oregano is perfect for just about any Italian-inspired recipe. I love adding this Mediterranian herb to marinara sauce and cauliflower pizza bases. A tablespoon of chopped oregano leaves is less than 10 calories.
An absolute pantry staple, curry powder can, quite literally, spice up a variety of dishes. The main ingredients of most brands usually include ground turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek and chilli. A tablespoon of curry powder will only add 21 calories to a dish – and a whole lotta’ flavour.
Vinegar need not only be downed with a pinched nose as a morning detox drink. It’s a great ingredient to add some zing to salad dressings, sauces and chicken recipes. One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar has just three calories.
Another great, low-calorie way to add flavour to baking recipes. Coffee is also a perfect accompaniment to oatmeal, smoothies and nicecream. A shot of espresso has absolutely no calories! So that makes coffee cake healthy… right?
What recipes will you add these deliciously healthy flavours to?