Nutrition Articles

Enhance the Flavor of Your Food

Improve Taste without Calories, Fat or Sodium

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The flavor of many foods can be enhanced without using calorie-laden sauces and gravies. Here are some great ways to use herbs to “spice up” your meals and bring out the natural flavors of your food. Don’t be afraid to experiment—try small amounts of several seasonings to find the right combination.

Meat Seasoning Ideas



To Season This...

Try One of These...

Poultry basil, cranberry sauce/relish, ginger, fresh mushrooms, marjoram, paprika, parsley, poultry seasoning, sage,   summer savory, or thyme
Lamb curry powder, basil, garlic, mint, mint sauce/jelly, onion, oregano, parsley, pineapple rings, or rosemary
Pork apple juice, applesauce, garlic, marjoram, onion, sage,  spiced apple, or spiced crabapple
Beef bay leaf, butter, chive, dry mustard, garlic, green pepper, marjoram, mushrooms, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme, or tomato  
Veal apricots, basil, bay leaf, currant jelly, curry, garlic, ginger,  marjoram, mushrooms, oregano, pepper,  spiced chervil, or summer savory
Fish basil, bay leaf, curry, dill, dry mustard, garlic, green pepper, lemon butter, lemon juice, marjoram, mushrooms, paprika, parsley, tarragon, thyme, or tomato

Vegetable Seasoning Ideas

The flavor of any veggie can be enhanced by using bay leaf, dill seed, and vinegar.  Or, try combining water, vinegar, and dry mustard to make your own healthy mustard spread. 

To Season This...

Try One of These...

Asparagus chives, herb butter, or lemon juice
Green Beans dill seed, chives, lemon juice, nutmeg, marjoram, onion, rosemary, or scallions
Broccoli lemon juice
Cabbage dill seed, or mustard dressing/paste
Cauliflower nutmeg
Corn chives, curry, onions, or parsley
Peas chervil, chives, fresh mushrooms, lemon juice, mint, onion, or parsley
Potatoes green peppers, mace, onion, or parsley
Squash allspice, basil, ginger, mace, or sautéed onion
Sweet Potatoes glaze of cinnamon/nutmeg, or escalope with apples & sugar
Tomatoes basil, chives, curry, marjoram, onions, parsley, or sugar
Green Peppers chives, curry, onions, or parsley


Create Your Own Spice Shakers
Making your own herb combinations will save you time (and money) when making recipes.  Plus, a homemade spice shaker with a handwritten label makes a wonderful holiday gift for your favorite cook!  Try making your own blends (like a simple "Italian Blend" of basil and oregano), or use the suggestions below. 
 
(Mix all ingredients well and place into a shaker with a secure lid.)

Basic Spice Shaker

Herb & Onion Blend

Enhanced Seasoning

1 Tbsp. ground marjoram
 

1 Tbsp. ground savory
 

1 Tbsp. ground thyme
 

1-1/2 tsp. ground basil
 

1-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
 

1-1/2 tsp. ground oregano

1/4 cup instant chopped onion
 

1 Tbsp. sweet basil
 

1 Tbsp. ground cumin
 

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
 

1 Tbsp. cracked black pepper

1 tsp. crumbled thyme leaves
 

1 tsp. marjoram leaves
 

1 tsp. celery seed
 

1 tsp. garlic powder
 

1/2 tsp. onion powder
 

1/2 tsp. curry powder
 

1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
 

2 Tbsp. paprika

 


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Member Comments

  • ETHELMERZ
    My family still prefers foods to not have herbs in them, no matter how fresh or organic. They like chili powder or paprika, but nothing green, especially parsley and cilantro makes them sick, just the smell of it is disgusting. So salt and pepper is mostly enough. Rosemary and tarragon also is off putting.
  • LCERTUCHE
    I have always been heavy handed on the seasonings. My family and friends always reach for a plate at my house. I like to sprinkle chili powder on potatoes and I have my own spice blend. I have cut back on salt until I can't enjoy take-out food because it always taste too salty.
  • ETHELMERZ
    Unfortunately, herbs are not very tasty to my family, and they only enjoy butter or cheese or onion and garlic, buying herbs no matter how "organic" or "fresh" does not turn them on one bit.
  • Great ideas! I'm always looking for herbs to make broccoli taste better. Usually I use garlic but if anyone has ideas, please share. Thanks!
  • Great article! I am always looking for ways to boost up my bland cooking, haha.
  • unless i'm mistaken, butter is neither fat-free nor an herb.
  • Love the spice blend suggestions. I'd love to see more of these.
  • I love salsa on everything but I am sure it has some sodium. Great article!
  • What a fun idea, my own spices added to make gifts, too!
  • Thanks for the suggestions. I have been in a rut lately trying to figure out some way of changing the same old recipes up. I will have to try some oif these. I am heading to the grocery store tomorrow and stocking up on some more spices for sure!!!
  • .......as I was writing....... ; ) .........
    But, unless I follow a recipe, I don't have a clue as to what spices/herbs to use.
    Hopefully this article will help change that : ) !!

    Peace & Happiness,
    Denise


  • Thanks for the article.
    When I decided to become vegan (after being vegetarian for MANY years), I purchased lots of spices, herbs, etc...... (through Penzey's - LOVE THEM!)
    But,
  • ALDEBARANIAN
    How could they leave out tarragon for poultry?

    And then there's the classic, put just a little coriander in the grinder along with your black pepper. (Actually, I use cayenne pepper almost exclusively.)

    But the biggest find I've made recently is sumac. It's widely used in the middle east, one of the oldest culinary herbs It has a wonderful lemony taste, and if you do a web search for it, you'll find a lot of health claims made for it.

    Oh, and of course, I never make any kind of beans or soup without putting a piece of kombu kelp in it. Really amps up the nutrition, and it adds the undefinable "yummy" factor that's the other oriental taste.

    We buy all our herbs and spices at a local health food store. It's incredibly cheaper, and everything's way fresher, has a lot better flavor than from the grocery store.
  • This is right on time for me as I am learning to season veggies and chicken in a more healthy manner. Thanks!
  • Great suggestions. But except for ginger & curry, these are generally in the European-US tradition.

    For Latin flavor: cilantro, cumin, turmeric, plus diced jalapeno or other hot pepper (or cayenne).

    For Thai: cilantro, ginger, lime juice, plus jalapeno or other source of heat. I consider this to be the most heavenly combination of flavors ever!

    FYI for the person who asked: turmeric is an ingredient of most curry-powder mixes & is also used in many Mexican & other Latin American foods. It's not a strong flavor--can be added liberally to many dishes.

About The Author

Tanya Jolliffe Tanya Jolliffe
Tanya earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition and has more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and education. She is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. See all of Tanya's articles.



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