Summary: Are you trying to eat healthy? Keep the sodium, sugar, and calories down and add great flavor to your food using these 8 ingredients.
Spring seems to be a time of year that everyone is on some sort of health kick: whether you’re still riding high on those New Year’s resolutions, you’re giving up something unhealthy for Lent, or you’re already thinking of swimsuit season. If making your own healthy meals is a big part of your goals right now, you may be struggling between the desire to eat healthy and the desire to eat delicious foods.
Shockingly, you can have both.
- Citrus. It’s amazing how a little orange or lemon can go a long way on fish, roasted vegetables, or in a homemade salad dressing. Try using the zest for extra flavor, but start slow, because a little bit can go a long way.
- Garlic. This one is pretty obvious, but it had to make the list. Be sure to cook the garlic first, by either sautéing it in a pan with oil or roasting it before including it in the rest of your dish. Just be sure not to burn the minced pieces or you’ll get a bitter flavor you were not looking for.
- Ginger. Ginger is a staple in many cultures for cooking for a good reason. It adds a bright and vibrant flavor to any dish. Consider stirring it into a soup or grating it on top of fish. It even goes great with sweet dishes like smoothies, muffins or yogurt.
- Peppers. Peppers are very low in calories and can add some great spice and flavor to your dishes. If you’re nervous about spice, start with some simple bell peppers and move your way up. Try roasting them and adding them into purees, chilies, marinara sauces or egg dishes like omelets and frittatas.
- Celery. Don’t run away just yet. While celery is known for being diet-friendly and full of fiber, it can add a great crunch to a salad, tastes delicious pickled (soak in vinegar with a dash of salt and sugar), and adds some great flavor to any soup when cooked with carrot and onion.
- Stock. Using stock in your cooking can make a huge difference in the flavor, whether it’s the base of a soup, for cooking grains, or mixing into dishes like mashed potatoes. Just be sure to watch the sodium content if you’re buying from the store.
- Balsamic vinegar. Many people use balsamic vinegar with splash of olive oil as a healthy salad dressing alternative, but it can really add flavor to other dishes as well. Consider adding it into a stew or using it to marinate meat or vegetables.
- Fresh herbs. We could not have made this list without including herbs, which can completely transform a dish without adding any calories. Some favorites are mint, thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano. Not only are they delicious, but many have added health benefits as well. Just be sure to try using them fresh, because their dried forms just aren’t the same.