Am I really going to compare nutrition to the Spice Girls?! Ya! You watch…..
Blogger Shadoza gave me this idea: “My suggestions for content would be to include something about how to spice up the blandness of low calorie meals without adding calories.” Sounds like a topic I can handle. Let’s talk about getting flavor without the added salt.
When I was doing my clinical rotations, I had so many patients say to me that they have to fry foods and add salt and/or Cajun seasoning (which is high in salt) to foods because either 1) they think healthy food tastes bad without it 2) they are so used to the taste of it on their foods, they have to use 3) they have no idea what else to use to add flavor or 4) all of the above.
I am going to give you some ideas on ways you can add flavor and spice to foods without adding so much salt you blow up like a puffer-fish. So let’s meet the true Spice Girls!
Rosemary is a herb that is really easy to either grow it in an herb garden or in a pot in your kitchen. It is found commonly in Mediterranean dishes, but it can really go with a lot more. One of the most common dishes I see using rosemary is Rosemary Lemon Chicken. However, rosemary can be infused into olive oil that can be used on pasta or salads or even to dip some french bread in. You can place sprigs of rosemary inside chicken or on top of fish, like salmon, while it cooks. You can let it simmer with a pot of chicken noodle soup. You can also chop up the needles and put inside bread dough, then bake it off! You can either pull the needles off the stem, like if you are putting it into a dish, or you can leave it on the stem if its going in a stew/soup or if you are using it as a garnish.
Hey, at least they got one right! Ginger can be found at most grocer’s where all the fresh produce is. It of course is mainly seen in teas and cookies as well as for medicinal purposes (every use fresh ginger or ginger ale to help your upset stomach?), but ginger can be used in a multitude of other places. Putting fresh ginger into cooked carrots, broccoli or asparagus adds a little something extra. If you are doing a stiry fry at home, ginger is a great flavoring to add to the mix! You can even use ginger in a marinade for chicken, beef or pork! To use this spice, make sure you peel off the brown skin with a sharp paring knife, then you can either cut and chop the ginger root into pieces or use a grater or a zester/microplane, depending on what form you need it in.
Not very many people use bay leaves and it could be because they don’t really know what to do with it. It is not really one of those herbs that are edible. Bay leaves are usually used for the flavor, but are discarded before serving. You may have heard from home cooks or Food network chefs about making a bouquet of herbs. This is when they take several different herbs and they either tie them together with string or put them in a little makeshift bag from cheesecloth. They can then put this bag in a pot of soup or casserole, let the flavors release into the dish and then easily be able to retrieve it when needed. Bay leaves can be used to give flavor to soups, casseroles, chilies and sauces. It can also be put into pots of water that will be used to boil shrimp, crawfish and crab. Marinades are another good use for bay leaves.
Garlic is great to use with many savory dishes. It is an excellent addition to meats, fish, vegetables, soups, rice and bread. Just remember to use either fresh garlic or garlic powder. Forgo the garlic salt. While in just 1 Tablespoon of garlic salt there are 0 calories, there is 5,880 mg of sodium, which is over 2.5 times our daily allowance for salt (2300* mg is the standard, 1500 mg for the elderly, those with diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease). 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder has 28 calories, but only 2 mg of sodium. One word can make ALL the difference.
*2300 mg is about 1 teaspoon!
Lemon juice is a good way to add an extra kick to chicken, fish and vegetables. It can give you flavor that tastes like salt, but WAY less sodium. I love squeezing fresh lemon onto my tilapia and broccoli It adds a freshness to meals. It is a great thing to use, especially now that we are getting into the springtime. Lemon reminds my of spring, so it’s perfect! Want to add a little something extra? Take a zester to the outside of the lemon (you can also do this with oranges), and scrap off the yellow part of the the peel (you don’t want the white part…it’s bitter). You can then sprinkle some of the zest directly onto your chicken, vegetables & fish. It adds a little something extra, plus it’s really pretty.
Salt addict? One suggestion that I have given to patients, especially my cardiac and hypertensive ones, is to not even bring the salt shaker to the table. If it is at the table, you are going to use it. Don’t tempt yourself. The more you go without using it, your taste buds will get used to it. If you don’t want to quit cold turkey on your salt use, then slowly dial back. And ALWAYS make sure you taste your food before you start shaking salt on your dish. I’m sure nine times out of ten you will find the dish won’t even need it.
Now whenever you think of the Spice Girls, you are going to picture them as actual spices.
P.S. I just had to post the video. Is it sad that after all these years, I still know ALL the lyrics and ALL the dance moves? Some things you just never forget…