2 condiments that can make your diet more enjoyable
One of the questions I get most frequently from my clients and others is “Are there ways to make the foods on my meal plan taste better without ruining my plan?” The answer, of course, is YES. However, many of us with busy schedules don’t really want to spend MORE time in the kitchen.
This week’s article details two quick ways to make your food taste better without compromising the nutritional aspects of your food. The following common condiments are things I use just about every day, they have multiple uses, and they may have health benefits themselves.
Lemon juice is frequently overlooked, but it’s a great way to add some flavor to many foods, particularly fish or vegetables. I use lemon juice both as a condiment on food that’s already been cooked, like salmon, or as a dressing on spinach or any other vegetables.
However, one of my favorite uses for lemon juice is as an ingredient when baking tilapia. I’ll pour just enough lemon juice to cover the bottom of a baking dish, set the tilapia in the lemon juice, and then add seasonings. The tilapia absorbs a lot of flavor from the lemon juice, which is great, since tilapia doesn’t really have much flavor on its own.
While a fruit juice, lemon juice has virtually no sugar content, thus the sour flavor. However, it is rich in Vitamin C, which is a powerful anti-oxidant, and other vitamins and minerals. Lemon juice also has an alkalizing effect on the body, which should be of interest to athletes, since intense training and high protein diets tend to make the body more acidic.
Many people have reported on the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, and I use it every day (with lemon juice, water, and a greens powder – for more information on that see: https://www.rexiusnutrition.com/blogs/rexius-nutrition-supplement-shorts/dont-forget-your-greens). However, the taste of Apple Cider Vinegar is not that pleasant, so its use as a condiment is pretty limited.
There are MANY different kinds of vinegar, and vinegar is used in the cuisines of many different cultures. The various flavors of different kinds of vinegar can be useful, but one should be aware that certain vinegars will have some amount of sugar, like balsamic vinegar. Vinegar is useful as a tenderizer when preparing marinades for meats, and it can be used in various dressings for vegetables and salads.
My favorite vinegar is Red Wine Vinegar. Red wine vinegar has a lot of the same health benefits of red wine, which is rich in anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids. This vinegar usually has no sugar content, so I don’t hesitate to use it when I’m dieting. As I often want to have healthy fats in my diet, I tend to pair vinegar with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This pairing is a great way to add flavor to fish, chicken, or vegetables. Be forewarned, this is a very robust flavor combination, but can be very enjoyable with the right amount of seasonings. My favorite combination is garlic salt, crushed red pepper, and Italian seasonings.
You might have guessed by now that I tend to like sour flavors. I realize that lemon juice and red wine vinegar may not be to everyone’s liking, but part of the fun of food preparation is in experimenting to find what YOU like. Give these a try – I’d appreciate hearing back from you if you find a way to use them that you liked!