Are you smart with seasoning?
If you are one who isn’t really a fan of plain or bland foods, don’t worry their are many ways to flavor food with healthy seasoning that even your family will enjoy without the extra calories, additives, and sodium!
Many clients tell me they are OK with eating plain protein and vegetables for lunch and dinner, but when it comes to making food for their families they need options that give the food more flavor. Well, lucky for everyone many healthy and low calorie seasonings exist to flavor food wonderfully without sacrificing flavor.
Have you ever stopped to take a look at the nutrition label on your favorite BBQ or teriyaki sauce? How about your favorite steak seasoning? Do me a favor and go take a look, you might be shocked to read what ingredients are included as well as the calorie content per serving! Next take a look at the sugar content and sodium level per serving, you will continue to be shocked!
Let’s just say you cook a “healthy” meal of BBQ chicken (marinated and doused in the sauce discussed above) with a side of steamed vegetables with “just a little” butter for flavor. That healthy meal, by the time you add the calories from the BBQ sauce and then from the butter (because no one ever adds “just a little”) that meal that started healthy is actually healthy no more. The increase in sodium, sugar, fats, and calories just from what you used for flavor the meal has turned it into a calorie bomb.
I always like to remind people that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or bland and it is all about healthy balance. So reading this blog does not mean that from now on you should never use BBQ sauce, your favorite steak seasoning, or should never enjoy some butter doused vegetables. Just remember to follow the 80-20 rule, choose healthier options 80% of the time and then enjoy life 20% of the time (by life yes I mean BBQ sauce, butter, sugar, and hidden calories etc.)
Half of the battle of knowing how to eat healthy is learning how to read nutrition labels, well wait, we all know “how” to read them that’s the easy part. Knowing what we are looking for when reading nutrition labels is the important part. It secretly makes me happy when I am in the grocery store and I see someone pick up a product off the shelf and read the nutrition label before putting in their basket. I truly want to run over and give them a high five! (I don’t, but maybe I should start doing that LOL) Anyways, I’ll give you the main things I look for when reading a nutrition label:
Look to see how many ingredients are in the item and how many of those items you can actually pronounce. The less ingredients means it is closer to a natural food and the more ingredients you can’t pronounce means the more artificial ingredients and chemicals you will be ingesting when eating this item.
Sugar and Sodium:
Next I look at sugar and sodium content per serving because many times an item can be marketed as “healthy, low calorie, low fat etc.” but is loaded with sugar and sodium.
Calories per serving:
Lastly I look at calories per serving because although this is important, it’s a given that if an item passes the first 2 tests listed above it will have an approved calorie level. One hint is to look at the serving size, especially when it comes to salad dressing and sauces. A lot of the time one serving is quite small and although it might seem like a low calorie content per serving, if you unknowingly add 4 servings to your meal that low calorie count will increase really quick!
Below is a little list of the many ways you can season your foods without the worry of increased calories, sodium, sugar, and unnecessary chemicals. The last thing you want to do is cook a really healthy meal and then cover it in added calories and chemicals -right?
Red Pepper Flakes
Agave (limit 1 tbsp per serving)
Ground black pepper
Stevia – natural sweetener that comes from a plant – much better than artificial options containing aspartame.
Vanilla extract (alcohol-free)
Sea salt (1500-2300 mg per day, or 1 tsp)
I hope this helps you avoid adding calorie bombs to your healthy meals and turns you into one of those people I want to high five in the grocery store!
If you have any favorite healthy seasoning that I forgot to mention above, leave a comment below and let me know!