Adding Flavour Without Adding Calories

Are you trying to eat healthy, but finding that your meals are tasting a little bland?

Are you trying to figure out ways to add flavour to your food without adding calories?

If you want to make your foods taste more delicious without adding calories or fat there is a very simple, healthy way to do it. Think herbs. Adding herbs to your meals will not only add the flavour to your foods that you’ve been missing, but will also keep your calories in check.

I recently heard a chef say the only difference between a good chef and a great chef is butter and salt. Unfortunately, that’s all too true.  Butter and salt are an easy and common way to make food taste better and unless you’re cooking it yourself, it’s hard to know just how much is in your dish.

Sugar is another easy way to boost flavour and more prevalent than ever in unexpected foods like breads, crackers and even salad dressings. Maybe that’s why we’re consuming three to four times the recommended amount of added sugars in this country.

The problem is these flavour-enhancing favourites aren’t doing anything for your health.

Low fat foods don’t have to be low in flavour! There are many techniques that can be used to infuse the flavour into low fat foods, without upping the value of the meal in calories. Use these techniques to keep your food interesting and your diet on track.

Here are some easy ways to add the flavour into food without adding that fat:

Try these suggestions:

How to Enhance … Herb/Spice
Italian foods garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram
Cooked vegetables caraway, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, basil, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, sage
Soups chives, bay leaf, chilli powder, paprika, sage, cumin, cloves, parsley, saffron
Mexican foods annatto seed, basil, cilantro, cayenne, chillies, thyme, sage, oregano, cumin seed, crushed red pepper, coriander seed
Indian cuisine bay leaf, caraway seed, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, ginger, turmeric
Asian cuisine chillies, Chinese chives, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, turmeric
Fish and seafood dill, paprika, thyme, paprika, rosemary, sage, turmeric
Chicken and meat dishes ginger, rosemary, basil, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme
Bean and meat stews bay leaf, chilli powder, cardamom
Sweet dishes cloves, cinnamon, anise, mint, nutmeg, saffron
Spanish dishes paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla

Fast – Low Calories Flavour Enhancers


Always keep a bottle on hand for soups, stews and sauces. Add a half-cup to the pan when after sautéing chicken and scrape up all the bits in the bottom of the pan to create a quick pan sauce. The wine adds a tangy flavour and a level of depth to my dishes. You can also add wine instead of water or broth when cooking rice, couscous or other grains.


Buy reduced-sodium broth or stock (or make your own), and use it instead of water. You’ll add a layer of flavour for essentially no calories.

Hot Sauces – Tabasco

A few drops or a drizzle add heat to any dish, from scrambled eggs to chilli and tomato soup. If you don’t like regular hot sauce, try some of the other types on offer, there are lots.

Some Others

  • Lemon & Lime Juice
  • Curry powder
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Homemade tomato salsa
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cinnamon and all spice – sweet

Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, red pepper flakes and oregano; lemon and lime juice with the zest, course grain mustards, herb flavoured vinegars and oils — also, a little pesto goes a long way!

Cumin is possibly the most versatile spice in the kitchen. You can add some to almost every dish, from lentil soup to hummus, roasted turkey to tofu cutlets. It adds a home-cooked flavour to any dish.

Balsamic vinegar

Rich, sweet and syrupy, balsamic vinegar is great on salads, drizzled over root vegetables and even mixed in to tomato sauce. It’s just that good. It’s even great on top of strawberries.


Taste: Thyme has a spicy, savoury flavour that is slightly pungent.
Best for: Use thyme in meat and vegetable dishes.
Tip: Since thyme stands up well to heat, you can add it to your dish at any point during the cooking process.


Taste: Basil tastes similar to thyme, but with a clove-like flavour.
Best for: Use basil in tomato, pesto, vegetable, and egg dishes.
Tip: To achieve the strongest flavour, rather than cutting up the leaves, tear them apart.

Use fat Free Salad Dressings
There are very few times that a salad can be enjoyable without the dressing that comes along with it. Fat free salad dressings are a great way to reduce the fat that is associated with salad dressings that can contain up to one-hundred calories per serving!

Citrus Flavours

Citrus flavours are a great way to add flavour to fish, chicken and even vegetables with the juice and rind from oranges, lemons and limes. Citrus juice can be used after the fish has been cooked, even through the cooking process to implement juice and high flavourings into the fish! Combinations such as lemon and pepper have been proven crowd pleasers that add flavour without the fat!

Use Fake Bacon

Fake bacon bits are actually made from vegetables and flavoured to taste like bacon, as opposed to bacon which can come with high levels of fat and grease. Using this bacon can reduce the calories in salads and side dishes without causing you to be at an increased risk for a heart attack! Believe me, your waist line will thank you!

Use Olive Oil

Get rid of the butter in your pantry and use heart healthy olive oil. Oil can be an increasingly popular alternative to butter that comes without the fat of the butter. Butter should be used on sparing occasions – if at all! Olive oil contains high levels of the fatty omega acids which are actually beneficial to the body – compared to butter which can increase weight and the risk of disease.

Use Chicken Broth when Cooking

There are many ways that chicken broth can be used within the diet as an alternative to many other cooking aids – such as butter and high fat sauces. Chicken broth can be low in fat and low in sodium and is a healthy way to start your new lifestyle of lighter cooking!

So now that you know how to add flavour to your food without adding calories, give the above herbs a try. These are just a few of the more common herbs out there that you can use. Once you have tested them out, be bold and give a number of other herbs out there a chance. Your taste buds, and waistline, will thank you.

Best wishes,



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