All Women's Talk

10 Calorie-Free Ways to Flavor Your Foods ...

By Heather

I’m a huge fan of slimming down my recipes without sacrificing flavor, and with these ways to flavor your foods, you’ll never miss the extra calories from butter, oils, sugar, or even salt, though it is technically calorie-free. Over the years I’ve gotten accustomed to learning to season my foods creatively and healthily, while still maintaining lots of flavor. Try some of these tasty ways to flavor your foods if you need some healthier alternatives in your kitchen.

1 Mrs. Dash

Mrs. DashThis is one of the most classic ways to flavor your foods without adding any calories whatsoever! Mrs. Dash has been a lifesaver for me, and such a wonderful enhancement to my food. With no salt, sugar, or MSG, Mrs. Dash is offered in tons of varieties and flavors. I love the original flavor, which is simply made of dried herbs and spices and even dried veggies like carrots, garlic and onions. I also love the Southwest Chipotle flavor and Key Lime flavor as well. Mrs. Dash is a constant in my kitchen whether I’m grilling veggies, making dressings, grilling fish or chicken, and I love it on scrambled eggs and salads.

2 Black Pepper

Black PepperBlack pepper is quite possibly one of the most underrated spices of all. It is actually one of the best sources of antioxidants you can consume and is also rich in digestive properties that aid in digesting your meals. Try using more black pepper in place of salt. Even though salt is technically calorie-free, you are probably consuming more than enough sodium for the day just through the foods you eat. Black pepper is a favorite of mine to use on grilled veggies, fish, chicken, on scrambled eggs, in veggie dishes, on salads and in homemade dressings. If you can’t take the heat, start out slow.

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3 Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider VinegarI actually love apple cider vinegar for its health properties, but it also makes a great calorie-free way to enhance your foods. Try using apple cider vinegar in place of salad dressings. I can promise you’ll become a convert before long. Apple cider vinegar imparts a sweet yet tangy taste that derails your taste buds of the need for salt and sugar. It also slows down your blood sugar, which decreases your appetite and regulates your insulin levels.

4 Mustard

MustardI adore mustard! I can’t stand the thought of eating mayo, but mustard is my go-to for a great condiment option. Though it does have some salt added, it is calorie free. My little trick is to add a little water to mustard and stir before drizzling it over food to reduce the salt content. By doing this, you can actually use less mustard than normal. I love mustard in homemade dressings, as a marinade for fish, chicken, and veggies, and on salads. Mustard is also great for satiety and controlling your appetite.

5 Herbs

HerbsDried herbs are a great way to enhance the flavor of your foods without adding calories. Instead of salt, try using some plain Italian seasoning, or simple oregano, basil, parsley, sage or thyme. Each of these are unique in their own flavors and are extremely high in antioxidants. Turmeric and curry powders are also excellent for adding flavor without fat, and they include tons of antioxidants to enhance your skin, metabolism, and your heart.

6 Lemons

LemonsLemons make a great substitution for salad dressing. If I’m out at a restaurant, I always ask for a plate of lemon slices so I can squeeze this onto my salads instead of using dressing. For no calories, no sugar, no salt, and no fat, lemon’s acidity will lift the flavors of your foods to a whole new level. I even like lemon juice squeezed onto grilled veggies, fish, chicken, and sweet potatoes. You can also squeeze a lemon into your water and enhance the flavor of your water without added calories.

7 Limes

LimesJust like lemons, limes are also a great way to jazz up the flavor of your meals. I especially love using limes in the summer if I'm grilling and want to impart a light yet super flavorful taste to grilled foods. I also like lime juice over salads, which is a great way to give your salads a Caribbean flavor with no need for the extra sugar and salt from pre-made dressings or sauces.

8 Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic VinegarJust like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar is a great way to flavor foods. If you pick a brand with no added sugar, it is calorie free, but be sure to choose one with no added sugar, or it can be a sneaky source of the sweet stuff. Balsamic vinegar is sweeter than apple cider vinegar and has a delightful taste. I usually request this at restaurants if I want to enhance my foods, or if it is available at the salad bar. Balsamic vinegar is also tasty over fruits, which reduces the insulin response that the sugars in fruit release into the body.

9 Spices

SpicesJust like herbs, spices are high in antioxidants and also enhance the flavors of your foods. I like using sweeter spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and coriander when I want to add a slight sweetness to my foods without added calories. I like sprinkling some over Greek yogurt, using them in a smoothie, or adding them into baked goods. These spices also reduce the taste buds’ needs for sugar, and lower your insulin. These spices actually aid in digestion as well, making them a great addition to any meal.

10 Stevia

SteviaAlright, quite possibly my favorite all natural, non-artificial addition to my list of zero-calorie flavorings is the almighty stevia! Some love it, some hate it, but I simply adore this ingredient for baking, smoothies, and sweetening coffee, teas or anything else. You need so little that it lasts forever! I can’t go without this staple in my kitchen, and to prevent getting a brand with a bitter taste, don’t buy those at the supermarkets, which are mostly full of fillers instead of stevia. Better brands to try are Sweetleaf liquid stevia, or NuNaturals NuStevia, which comes in a liquid and powder and is my personal favorite brand. Now Foods Better Stevia is also great and available in a liquid and powder.

Getting creative in your kitchen is the key to cutting calories but keeping flavor. Don’t sacrifice your spicy or sweet tooth, just embrace these ideas for a twist on all your dishes that won’t hurt your nutrition efforts. Flavored extracts are also great to use in the kitchen, so combine some vanilla, stevia and cinnamon and you’ll never miss the sugar. What are your favorite zero-calorie ways to flavor your foods?

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