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Add Flavor, Not Calories

How to enjoy the taste of eating right

Which meal sounds more appealing; pasta with chicken in a cheesy cream sauce or raw leafy greens without dressing? If you’re like most people, the pasta takes the cake any day. Research shows that when it comes to food choices, taste trumps nutrition. The foods you eat the most will be the ones you enjoy the most. So make taste a priority when preparing healthy meals!

This month is National Nutrition Month®, the perfect opportunity to add more appeal to your meal. These tips that enhance flavor and retain nutrients without adding extra fat, calories or salt, certainly won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth!

  • To maximize food’s flavor and nutrition, start with high-quality ingredients at their peak. It’s also important to handle and store foods properly, because poor storage destroys flavor and quality.
  • Grilling or roasting veggies in a very hot (450° F) oven or grill intensifies their flavor. Before popping them into the oven, brush lightly with oil so they don’t dry out. Also sprinkle with herbs.
  • Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan searing, grilling or broiling. These cooking techniques brown meat and add flavor.
  • Use small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors like pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
  • Spices such as cumin, cardamom and turmeric provide many health benefits, so add them to your dishes often. Curries and stews are the perfect vehicles for fragrant, warming spices.
  • Give a flavor burst with good quality condiments such as horseradish, mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.


  • Experiment with herbs like dill, thyme, parsley, rosemary and basil. Fresh herbs are preferable, because they’re more nutritious than dried. You generally add them right before serving. If you do choose dried herbs, add them to the pan earlier in the cooking process and use less, since their flavor is more concentrated.


  • Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sweetness by cooking them slowly over low heat in a small amount of oil. Use them to make a rich, dark sauce for meat or poultry.
  • Sprinkle (unsweetened) cocoa or cinnamon powder on nuts, oatmeal, puddings and smoothies.


  • Lemon, lime and orange juice or zest or a splash of vinegar helps to lift and balance flavor. Experiment with apple cider, balsamic, rice wine or red wine vinegars for different taste sensations!


  • Garlic and ginger are super healthy and the highlight of many Asian dishes.
  • Pep it up with peppers! Play around with red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties, from sweet bell peppers to hot chillies.
  • A dash of hot pepper sauce can take flavor to a whole new level!

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (

Smart Swap Recipes

You can save a lot of calories, sodium and fat by making a few smart substitutions. The recipe suggestions below are high in flavor, not calories!

You’re thinking of having…
Healthier alternative…
Omelet (1 egg) with cheese 200 Spring Herb Frittata 175
Maple & brown sugar oatmeal 290 Hearty Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal 255
Creamy dip (4 tbsp) 200 Firecracker Salsa (4 tbsp) 45
Sausage tapas 300 Lemon Cilantro Turkey Tapas (no bread) 130
Fried chicken wings (3 wings) 400 Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Wings (3 wings) 235
Fried fish (6 oz) 450 Broiled Tilapia with Mustard and Yogurt Sauce (6 oz fish) 210
Steak with creamy mushroom sauce 230 Mexican Salsa Steak 185
Milkshake (small) 400 Banana Mocha Blend 210
Strawberry sundae 280 Berries and Whip 75

* Values are approximate

Food is not just fuel for your body; it’s a gift that is meant to be enjoyed, so bon appetit!