Looking for easy ways to add flavor to food without adding extra calories, fat and sodium? Look no further! These tips for low-calorie, low-fat, flavor-boosting techniques make eating healthy a pleasure.
Healthy flavor boosters
Use these tips and tricks to increase flavor:
- Use fresh herbs instead of salt. Add fresh herbs near the end of cooking time to protect the herbs’ delicate oils and give a burst of intense flavor.
- Substitute sharp cheeses for mild. Sharp cheeses pack a bigger flavor wallop, so you don’t need as much.
- Put extra virgin olive oil in a spray bottle. Steam vegetables, then spritz them with a small amount of olive oil instead of cooking them in oil or butter.
- Toasting nuts intensifies their flavor, so you can cut back on the amount you use. But don’t cut back too much! Nuts are a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Substitute fat-free or reduced-fat dairy products for full-fat varieties. Instead of using heavy whipping cream in cream sauces, use evaporated skim milk or low-fat milk.
- Use extra-ripe fruit to make smoothies so you won’t need to add extra sugar.
- Instead of sour cream, use fat-free plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream; you’ll get the same creamy texture and tangy flavor without the fat.
- Use sweet spices, such as cinnamon, and cut back on sugar when making sauces or dishes such as sweet potato casserole.
- Use marinades or spice rubs. Both add flavor without fat. Marinades — usually made with an acidic food such as vinegar, tomato juice or citrus juice — also tenderize meat, so you can use leaner cuts of meat. Rubs are mixtures of herbs, spices and sugar that are rubbed on a food before grilling. They’re beautifully simple but add bold flavor without fat.
Healthy cooking methods
Healthy cooking methods are those that produce great flavor with minimal use of fat or sugar. Here’s a guide to some of the most popular methods:
Roasting means to oven-cook. You need only a tiny bit of oil. Baste roasted meats with broth, fruit juice or other seasoned liquid for added flavor. Roasting also works well for vegetables, especially hearty root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Poaching means gently cooking a food in a covered pan of simmering flavored liquid — such as broth or fruit or vegetable juices — which adds flavor to the food. Poaching works well for seafood, poultry and fruit and doesn’t require added fat.
Grilling adds a rich, smoky flavor to food, and the fat drains away from the food as it cooks. Using different types of wood chips when grilling adds more flavor. Most people think of grilling meat or seafood, but grilled vegetables and fruit are also delicious.
Broiling means cooking a food directly under the heat source, such as the oven broiler. It’s a fast way to cook meat, fish and poultry, and any fat drains away from the food into the bottom of the pan.
Steaming means cooking a food on a rack or in a steamer basket over simmering water in a covered pan. Steaming preserves a food’s natural flavor, texture, color, and nutrients and is a fat-free cooking method.
Oven-“frying” is a great way to get the crispy texture of fried foods without the fat and calories. Simply dip meat or vegetables in beaten egg substitute or a mixture of milk or buttermilk and beaten egg white; then dip in a seasoned crumb mixture. Bake on baking sheet coated with nonstick spray.
Try these simple-to-use, healthy cooking techniques — you’re sure to find a favorite one that you’ll use again and again. It’s great to know that you can enjoy your favorite foods and do something good for your health at the same time!
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