Some of the biggest complaints I hear from customers who are trying to eat leaner …
- Healthy food is so flavorless!
- I feel like I’m eating cardboard.
- My food is so boring and bland!
Personally, I don’t think healthy food tastes boring. In fact, I think veggies and fruit are some of the most flavorful foods there are!
But I’m a realist. I know that not everyone feels as I do when it comes to healthy foods.
So, the issue then becomes, how do you make healthy foods taste like something you want to eat?
Here’s a little-known secret … OK, OK, before I reveal the secret, let me tell you about a fascinating study published in the journal Appetite1.
Researchers took about 150 adults and gave them each a test meal that included the same foods made 3 different ways. The meal was meatloaf with gravy, broccoli and cauliflower in butter sauce and penne with creamy white sauce.
Version #1 was full fat.
Version #2 was reduced fat.
Version #3 was reduced fat, with something “special” added.
Now, which version do you think they liked best? You probably guessed #1, right? After all, full fat always tastes better than reduced fat, right?
Participants rated their enjoyment of the meatloaf and vegetable dishes in Version #1 and Version #3 equally.
So, what was the secret special ingredient that was added to Version #3 to make this reduced-fat meal just as appealing as the full-fat version?
Yes, you read that correctly. The simple addition of a variety of herbs and spices can actually help you enjoy your meals more without extra fat and calories.
Amazingly, this small addition to reduced-fat meals helped the participants in the study eat 60% less fat and 28% fewer calories as the full-fat version.
Now, that’s what I call satisfaction!
Not enough for you? How about this? … Other studies have found that those who added spices and herbs to their meals consumed almost 1,000 mg per day less sodium, on average, than a group that didn’t add them.2
Another study found that a spice blend added to a high-fat meal decreased post-meal insulin and triglyceride levels compared to the same meal without added spices.3 And researchers have also found that the regular addition of cinnamon in the diet can help lower blood glucose levels.4
Step it up with seasonings
Now that you know seasoning your meals not only improves their flavor, but can also significantly impact your health, the next step is experimenting with different flavors and combinations. Stock up on a variety of herbs and spices and get creative!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
• Add fresh or dried basil, oregano, garlic and a salt-free spice blend to meatloaf, turkey burgers or pasta sauce.
• Fresh garlic, onion, Italian seasoning, chervil and chives are a great combination for soups, pasta salads and tomato sauces.
• Liven your vegetables with fresh or dried rosemary, garlic, pepper and lemon juice.
• Ginger, cinnamon and a drizzle of olive oil make a winning combination for carrots, squash or sweet potatoes.
• Prep your own salad dressing or meat marinade with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, rosemary, black pepper and lemon juice.
• Throw a blend of chili powder, garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel, paprika and cayenne into your favorite chili or taco soup.
• Top your oatmeal with cinnamon and vanilla extract, or try a pumpkin spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
• Fresh mint and lime juice make a refreshing addition to fruit salads.
Spicing things up can really make your meals pop. I can almost guarantee you’ll never call healthy food boring again!
Steven Sisskind, M.D.
1. Peters JC, Polsky S, Stark R, et al. The influence of herbs and spices on overall liking of reduced fat food. Appetite. 2014;79:183-188.
2. Anderson C, Cobb LK, Miller ER, et al. Effects of a behavioral intervention that emphasizes spices and herbs on adherence to recommended sodium intake. In: Epidemiology & Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism 2014 Scientific Sessions. San Francisco, CA; American Heart Association; 2014. Abstract MP37.
3. Skulas-Ray AC, Kris-Etherton PM, Teeter DL, et al. A high antioxidant spice blend attenuates postprandial insulin and triglyceride responses and increases some plasma measures of antioxidant activity in healthy, overweight men. J Nutr. 2011; 141:(8):1451–1457.
4. Anderson R. Cinnamon and glucose homeostasis: a review of the literature. Nutrition Today. 2014;49(5):S10-S11.