Diet and Fitness, Diet and Healthy Eating

17 Low-Fat, No-Sugar Ways to Flavor Your Meals

6 Comments 21 April 2011

Italian herbsWhen you’re on a diet, you’ve got to be creative. Dr. Mike Moreno, author of The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor’s Plan Designed for Rapid Results, shares how to get the most flavor from your food without adding fat or sugar.

1. Basil. Basil adds loads of flavor to tomato-based dishes. It’s also great with poultry.

2. Broth. Use low-sodium, low-fat chicken and beef broth to sauté meats and cook flavorful rice without adding oil.

3. Cayenne pepper. Just a pinch livens up chili, spaghetti squash and salad dressings. Consuming cayenne may help suppress your appetite. When a group of men and women took 900 milligrams of cayenne pepper a half hour before meals, they felt fuller and reduced their calorie and fat intake, according to a study appearing in the June 2005 issue of International Journal of Obesity.

4. Chives. Add 1 part chopped chives to 3 parts spinach and boil or steam for 3 minutes.

5. Cinnamon. Sprinkle this sweet spice in oatmeal, hot cereals or coffee. A 2003 study published in Diabetes Care reported that as little as one gram of cinnamon reduced blood glucose and cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetics.

6. Dill. Known mostly as a pickle herb, dill is delicious on fish, carrots and salads. For an easy dip, mix it into plain yogurt and serve with cucumber slices.

7. Garlic. Stir it into mashed potatoes or salad dressing.

8. Horseradish. Ditch the gravy and go for horseradish to enliven meat. Or puree it into Breakstone LiveActive cottage cheese, along with some garlic and pepper, for a healthy vegetable dip or potato topping.

9. Italian seasonings (generally a combination of oregano, rosemary, savory, marjoram, basil and thyme). Sprinkle it on chicken, spaghetti squash, vegetables and tomatoes.

10. Lemon. Squeeze fresh juice on salads, vegetables and fish. Grate the rind to create the zest (flavorful outer rind). This gives a tang to poultry, vegetables and salads.

11. Mint. You can’t beat fresh mint from your garden, but dried mint is tasty, too. Good in tea, with fruit, and in plain yogurt.

12. Mustard. Dijon mustard adds zip to many dishes, from turkey burgers to roasted potatoes.

13. Rosemary. The fragrant, needle-like leaves of this woody herb are especially good with lamb and seafood, and in any dish with beans, tomatoes, onions, potatoes or cauliflower.

14. Sage. This Mediterranean herb is especially good in tomato-based dishes, beans, tuna, chicken or turkey.

15. Tarragon. This wonderful seasoning makes salads and chicken taste delicious. For your salad dressings, try tarragon vinegar mixed with olive oil or flaxseed oil.

16. Thyme. A member of the mint family, thyme is great on carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and beef.

17. Vinegar. Try cider vinegar on cooked spinach, herbed or raspberry vinegar on salad greens, rice vinegar on chicken salad and malt vinegar on broiled fish.


The 17 Day Diet

The 17 Day Diet

Dr. Mike Moreno

Dr. Mike Moreno is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine and Hahnemann Medical School. Following his residency at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, California, Dr. Mike moved to San Diego, where he now practices family medicine and serves on the board of the San Diego Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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  • 17DayDietChlnge

    This is the BEST way to a lifestyle change of healthy eating for us! The food combinations have helped us in many more ways that fat loss. We sleep better, feel better and do NOT feel deprived at all! Follow our progress

  • kojala

    So glad to hear you’re doing so well on the 17 Day Diet! We have heard great feedback and appreciate you sharing yours.

  • Roberta

    Great tips for flavoring your meals without salt – personally I use garlic, rosemary, basil, cider vinegar, and Braggs Aminos quite a bit in my cooking. The key to succeeding on the 17 Day Diet is to keep your menu varied and interesting, within the guidelines of each cycle. For free recipes on the 17 Day Diet on Facebook, visit

  • RockerJewlz

    Cinnamon is NOT sweet. Try tasting it all by itself, you will be surprised.

  • kojala

    True! It has a sweet aftertaste, though. I like it in coffee or over berries and yogurt.

  • Howtogetsixpack

    Among all these I think lemon, ginger, mint and pepper are the best natural flavoring alternatives.


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