Healthy Food Without Calories

Taste needn't rely on fat and sugar. You can make your nutrition healthier and your food deliciously flavorful by adding a number of low-calorie ingredients, such as any of the following:

1. Canned chiles: Add whole chiles to a grilled chicken sandwich or diced chiles to soups, scrambled eggs, pita sandwiches, or sprinkle on tortillas.

2. Dried cranberries: Great in marinades for baked chicken. Add to quick breads, spinach salads, chicken salads, and rice dishes.

3. Portobello mushrooms: Marinate and grill like hamburger, slice grilled, and add to salads or pasta dishes, or use instead of meat for sandwiches.

4. Canned roasted red yellow peppers: Add to a grilled cheese sandwich, blend them with some cayenne and drizzle over a creamed vegetable soup, egg dishes, pasta sauces (cold and hot), or add as a topping with cheese for crackers.

5. Fresh cilantro: Add to fruit- or tomato-based salsa to accompany fish or poultry. Add to curried chicken salads with celery, apples, and grapes. Add to a bean burrito, fruit or vegetable salads, vinaigrette dressings, black beans, or rice dishes.

6. Red onions: Slice thin and add to salads, sandwiches, bean dips, or egg dishes.

7. Honey: Drizzle over yogurt, warm brown rice with pistachios, or sliced apples. Sweeten mashed sweet potatoes with honey. Mix with mustard, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and herbs as a marinade for chicken.

8. Fresh parsley: Mix with lemon and pepper and drizzle over grilled fish. Mix with minced garlic and whole wheat bread crumbs or wheat germ for a savory crust for potato dishes or chicken. Mix with olive oil and garlic for a pesto sauce for mashed potatoes.

9. Mint: Add to chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, rice dishes, and beans.

10. Sundried tomatoes: Use in pasta salads, sandwich spreads, vegetable dips, or as an extra topping on pizza. Mix into saute'ed zucchini or as an accompaniment to grilled eggplant. Blend with olives, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to make a spicy spread for grilled vegetable sandwiches.

11. Fresh ginger: Combine with curry to flavor chicken, add to hot or iced tea, use to season steamed vegetables such as pea pods or carrots. Use as a topping along with green onions on roasted fish. Add to stir fries, tofu dishes, or salad dressings.

12. Horseradish: Use in potato dishes, vegetable dips with dill, vegetable or chicken wraps with fat-free sour cream, spicy soup like gumbo, turkey burgers (ginger is good here, too), cold potato salad, or cold green beans.

13. Add grated rind (called lemon zest) to fruit salads. The juice can put a tangy taste in couscous, gazpacho, and dressings, and can be used as marinade for fish.

14. Fresh herbs: Fresh always tastes better than dried. Add fresh basil to pasta, tomatoes or other vegetables, bread dough, or even mango slices (basil and lemon are a good match). Fresh rosemary accents any meat, as well as pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, lima beans, peas, or squash. Fresh dill is an excellent flavor for fish, chicken, omelets and other egg dishes, salads, beets, cabbage, potatoes, or cucumbers. Fresh oregano is excellent in Italian, Greek, or Mexican dishes.

15. Hoisin sauce: Use as a glaze with garlic, cilantro, and ginger for chicken. Add to steamed green beans.

16. Pine nuts: Add a few to stuffings, pesto sauce, pilafs, and fillings for poultry or vegetables, such as eggplant or large zucchini.

17. Crushed red pepper flakes or Tabasco: Sprinkle on pizza, pasta dishes, salads, or soups. Add to olive oil or sour cream dips, rice dishes, or bean salads. Mix into cornbread batter or bread dough.

18. Tamarind: Add to mixed steamed vegetables, fresh orange juice, salad dressing, and sauces for fish.

19. Salsa: Make your own by experimenting with grilled corn, vine-ripened tomatoes, garlic, red onions, and chiles. Or try fruit salsa made from mango, jicama, and black beans. Try adding rice wine vinegar, fresh mint, lime juice, fresh herbs, avocado, or cilantro.

20. Sherry: Add a tablespoon to soups, sauces, marinades, or fruit glazes.

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