Flavor your food without extra calories

Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayo, and hot sauce are a staple in most American pantries because they help jazz up otherwise boring and dull foods. Some are great at adding flavor with very few calories, but others aren’t so healthy because they are loaded with sugar and fat.

Mixing mayonnaise into a can of water-packed tuna translates to 100 extra calories and 10grams of fat per spoon!  Basting your skinless chicken breast with BBQ sauce before you grill it is fine, but dunking each bite of chicken in a side dish of BBQ sauce is sure to load that meal with excess calories from sugar. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy and delicious ways to flavor foods without compromising their inherent healthiness. Here are some ideas:

For a healthy alternative to full-fat mayo try blending some plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, mustard, pepper, and your choice of spices. Non-fat Greek yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, and its velvety consistency soaks up whatever flavors you add to it. You’ll love the taste and save more than 200 calories and 20 grams of fat per-quarter cup serving.  Make a spicy horseradish sauce by mixing together already prepared horseradish with Greek yogurt and serve with a baked potato or filet mignon.

Asian condiments are especially good at enhancing flavor on few calories. Sriracha is a very spicy chili paste that can be added to ketchup for a sweet and spicy sauce – much healthier than a typical BBQ sauce containing lots of added sugar.

Mayonnaise and oil-based dressings are a salad’s worst nightmare. You take nutritious greens that have virtually zero calories and pour on about 100 calories per tablespoon. Why do that when you can whip up a low-cal vinaigrette by blending balsamic or red wine vinegar with some grated parmesan cheese or grainy mustard.

Jams and jellies are peanut butter’s best friend, but considering that most contain little to no fruit these seem more like an enemy - but not always. When looking for jams choose brands that contain all fruit, such as Polaner’s which makes a great-tasting sugar free jam that comes with a healthy bonus – 3 grams of healthy fiber.

For more tips, delicious high fiber meal plans, recipes, and proven ways to lose weight and look great, check out my new book The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the bestselling author of The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber, and The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss.  Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com