9 Spices for More Healthy, Flavorful Meals | STACK

How to Make Flavorful Meals Without Excess Fat, Sugar and Sodium

December 14, 2012 | Kait Fortunato

Must See Nutrition Videos

What do healthy options like steamed vegetables, lean chicken breast and low-sodium soups have in common? They're bland and boring! When learning to cook and eat more nutritiously, the most important thing is taste, because if it's not appetizing, there's no way you will want to eat it. (See Foods and Recipes For Healthy Eating on a Budget)

Although sugar, salt and fat contribute to taste satisfaction, we all know they cannot be part of the regular meal rotation. Instead, get those fresh, unique flavors your taste buds crave by using spices and herbs. Many have zero calories and are sodium-free, so I strongly encourage you to take advantage of them. Spices add color and strong aromatics to a dish, making them more appealing and enjoyable. And the right herbs can bring a meal to life, helping you feel more satisfied after eating.

Cooking with spices definitely takes patience and trial & error, but here are some of my favorite spice pairings for meats and vegetables to get you started.

Protein Sources

Chicken and Tarragon: tarragon is a pungent spice that adds a fiery flavor to baked chicken breast. It also makes a great addition to homemade chicken salad.

Steak and Basil: one of my favorite salads includes arugula with tomatoes, basil and flank steak drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The sweet dressing and tomatoes are the perfect complement to the earthy greens.

Pork and Sage: a member of the mint family, sage has a slightly bitter flavor that goes well with pork. It's also great for cooking for long periods of time, such as in a crock pot, as it stands up to the heat. Check out this recipe I made last week.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Fish and Dill: with a flavor similar to caraway, dill is the ideal complement to fish, especially salmon. Dill adds a hint of spice without overwhelming your taste buds.

Ground Turkey and Chili Powder: ground turkey can be somewhat bland on its own, but a dash of chili powder really livens it up. Turkey burgers and turkey chili are great substitutes for beef—an easy swap without losing flavor.

Vegetables

Carrots and Rosemary: roasted carrots with a sprinkle of rosemary and salt are one of my favorite vegetables. Roasting the carrots brings out their natural sweetness, which really complements the earthy rosemary. Last month's recipe featured carrot fries!

Cauliflower and CurryRoasted Curry Cauliflower is my favorite way to enjoy this vegetable. The crunchy texture with the Indian spice makes for a great spicy side dish.

Green Beans and Garlic: Green beans sautéed in lemon juice, olive oil and garlic is my go-to vegetable during the week. The sweet-spicy combination makes filling half my plate with vegetables a cinch.

Chickpeas and Cinnamon: One of my favorite afternoon snacks is roasted chickpeas with cinnamon. Chickpeas are full of protein and fiber, and roasting them gives them a crunchy, sweet flavor. This is the perfect afternoon snack to satisfy that crunchy, sweet, and salty craving.

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

The Boston Cannons'

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Foods for Athletes: Top Trends for 2014

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The Case for Red Meat

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat