One of the tricks to eating extremely healthy, as we learned as kids, is that many of the foods that provide our bodies with the most nutrition, don’t provide our taste buds with the same stimulation as less healthy options. Here’s how make dieting taste great!
The American diet is rich in extremely powerful artificial flavors from childhood to adulthood. This rift between healthy and taste does in part get closed as our taste buds adapt to a vegetable-heavy diet; we begin to adapt and gain a palate for more natural foods that aren’t jacked up on artificial flavoring.
Another issue is the repetition of many athletic diets; how many times can you eat eggs per week before they get boring. The same goes for staple meals like chicken and rice, not to mention pretty much every vegetable in the book.
Many athletes are capable of engineering their diets for their gym workouts, but without addressing the pleasures and satisfaction of taste, we may find ourselves deviating from easy diets in order to scratch that itch.
Managing this with the right seasonings and sauces can be the difference between keeping some variety in your diet, and slipping away for an extra cheat meal.
Besides, variety is the spice of life and just because you are eating a strict diet, doesn’t mean it has to taste bland.
How to Make Dieting Taste Great
Obviously not all sauces are created equal. The first thing to note is that many common condiments and dressings are full of preservatives and ingredients that require a chemistry degree to decipher. Not to mention many are loaded with sugar and fat.
Throwing ranch dressing all over a plate of veggies is, unfortunately, not going to get you where you want to be. There are however a number of healthy, naturally based options that can give your food some character, without adding unnecessary calories or fat. Here are a few key players to draft into your healthy kitchen.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying this incredible sauce, it’s time for a new experience. If you’ve ever enjoyed the taste of balsamic vinegar infused with any food, or sauce, this version adds a bit more sweetness and is thicker than it’s original counterpart. A tablespoon is about 35 calories but a little goes a long way (if you’re counting calories, regular balsamic vinegar contains about 15 calories per tbsp). Delicious on everything from eggs to asparagus, balsamic vinegar is also known to normalize blood pressure and provides a low-fat condiment or dressing option.
This Mediterranean staple is made from sesame seeds and the US was mostly made popular by its use in hummus. This makes an excellent sandwich spread if you want to cut out some of the fat of using Mayo, or can be used in salad dressings and dips for cut vegetables. Tahini is a predominantly mild flavor, but works as an excellent base to combine with your other favorite spices and seasonings.
One of the great things about seasoning your food with spicy sauces is that despite being absolutely packed with flavor, they are generally low in calories and pretty much everything else except a bit of sodium. A number of experts also suggest that the chemical responsible for the burn hot peppers cause, known as capsaicin, has powerful anti-cancer properties and possesses well-documented analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus eating spicy foods linked to living longer.Fresh peppers will have the highest health benefit, but as a condiment, a chili pepper based sauce like Sriracha can add both flavor and a few health benefits.
Tried and true. Salsa is an excellent way to add flavor to any meal without having to worry about the nutritional bottom line—it’s made from vegetables, have at it. This is a classic among body builders trying to make those repetitive meals like canned tuna palatable. With salsa, as with any vegetable based the fresher the better, most natural foods markets should have a house salsa made fresh. While salsa Fresca is an accessible home option, the amount of prep and time involved with making your own salsa lands this as a recommended store bought item.
From eggs to meat, barbecue sauce is not just a southern thing. No matter what style you’re into, barbecue sauce can make just about any meal interesting and contains the antioxidant powers of Vitamins A, C and E and selenium. If you don’t already know, Sweet Baby Ray’s is about the most delicious barbecue sauce brand available in stores. This is a personal favorite for livening up basic chicken breast and adding some flavor to any protein. BBQ sauce on eggs might get you a few sideways looks, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.
For soy sauce fans, Tamari is a healthier option that doesn’t use wheat. Tamari is thus a bit less salty-tasting than traditional soy sauce. For anyone looking for a gluten-free option that fits the flavor profile of soy sauce, this is your best bet. Tamari makes a solid stir-fry base and has lower sodium content than traditional soy sauce.
Rich in calcium, vitamin A and C, pesto is an Italian favorite, and out of this list may be the easiest to produce at home from start to finish. Traditionally pesto is made by smashing together the ingredients of basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Because of it’s olive oil content, Pesto is a good source of healthy fat but be sure to watch out for preservatives in store bought brands.
Our recommendation is to go very heavy on the garlic. Early research has even indicated that garlic may help regulate the number of fat cells in the body. It should be noted that the health benefits of this superfood are most present in its fresh form, when smashed or diced at home, and left to sit for several hours before raising its temperature through cooking.
Many of garlic’s valuable compounds stay intact for only a short window after it is crushed or processed. This is another reason for fresh ingredients. Food left sitting breaks down, this is natural. In order to compensate, preservatives are often added. Go with the fresh option.
When it comes to cooking healthy, taste is often an afterthought and our rigorous healthy diets can get very boring. If our goal is to continue on our best path towards health and fitness, then one of our objectives must be to keep us on our diet.
One of the best ways we can do this is by learning and keeping on hand those condiments that can both enhance our eating experience, and keep us healthy. Enjoying our diet more keeps us from deviating from our plan into the world of artificially flavored favorites that only pull us away from health.
A number of the sauces discussed involve garlic, which is chalk full of beneficial properties and flavor, so don’t be afraid of a little garlic breath. Remember, look for sauces with a short number of ingredients that are recognizable and don’t sound like a science experiment, the more whole food based and natural, the better.
Add some flavor to your easy diet plan and stay on track, keeping the critical nutrients coming and artificial flavors out.
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