Monday, January 31, 2011

Herbs to Enhance a Diet

Dieting resolution getting you down already?  Could it be that you are thinking in order to be low-cal it has to be bland and boring?  Here are a few tips to liven up the diet plan using herbs!
1. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s good for you, too. Variety means good nutrition. Instead of the same old apple, orange and pear, try a mango, a kiwi fruit or a persimmon (fruits that are unfamiliar to your taste buds, but commonly found in grocery stores nationwide). Different foods contain different nutrition, so it’s best to eat a variety.
2. Try a food that you’ve never tried before. If you see chicken on your meal plan, try Cornish hen instead. Instead of tuna fish, make a sandwich with canned salmon. Use low-fat mayonnaise or even nonfat yogurt instead of full-fat mayo. Try some mustard mixed with the mayo… it will make your “regular” sandwich more interesting.  Or even better, try an herbal mustard, like this one:
Herbed Mustard
2 C. prepared hearty mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
1 tsp. dried basil, crumbled
1 Tbs. dried tarragon, crumbled
1/4 C. herb or white wine vinegar

Pour mustard into large mixing bowl. Add the herbs and mix. Gradually stir in vinegar. Place in a covered jar and refrigerate for a couple days for flavors to blend.
Yield: 2 cups  Great on sandwiches, as a baste on fish or chicken or even as a pretzel dip.

3. Try a smoothie. A sweet smoothie is a great way to get a serving of fruit and nonfat dairy into your day — and it’s delicious! Whip up a cup of nonfat milk and one-half cup of nonfat yogurt in a blender with some crushed ice and one-half banana, or a cup of berries. You can add a little sugar or honey (approximately 20 calories per teaspoon) if you choose.

Herbed Smoothie
1/2 cup frozen fruit of your choice
1/2 cup fresh fruit of choice
3/4 cup milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc.
1/2 cup herbal tea or green tea
1 scoop protein powder of choice
1 tsp. honey
Mint leaves or fresh orange slices (optional)
  1. I use frozen fruit in place of ice cubes in my smoothies because it builds a richer flavor. You can choose any fruit, herbs and protein powder that you like. My favorite smoothie combination includes frozen strawberries, fresh banana, soy milk, vanilla whey protein and green tea.
  2. Add all of the ingredients in order to the blender. Doing this will help prevent clumping when it's time to blend.
  3. Pulse for several minutes until the smoothie is well blended. If it's too thick, add a touch more milk or milk substitute and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into a glass and garnish with mint leaves or fresh orange slices if you like. Or pour into a large, reusable coffee cup.

4. Eat more often. If you’re not succeeding on your weight-loss plan this week, try breaking your meals out into mini-meals, and eat every two to three hours to maintain your energy and to avoid hunger.

5. Eat breakfast. And lunch! And dinner! Skipping meals will backfire, and your metabolism will suffer for it. Your meals don’t have to be large! A serving high-fiber cereal and nonfat or low-fat milk and a piece of whole fruit will provide protein, carbohydrates and a little fat. This will give you energy to replenish your body from the previous night’s “fast.” Eat breakfast for dinner and lunch for breakfast. If you’re bored with your routine, challenge yourself to a new experience. There’s no rule that you have to eat the same way every day. Have your breakfast meal in the evening, and enjoy your dinner meal at lunch. You won’t be bored!

Or have a fist full of home-made granola.  Here is a recipe a friend shared with me.

Homemade Granola
 3 cups rolled oats
 1 cup wheat germ
 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 1/2 cup raisins
 1/2 cup dried cranberries
 1/4 cup sesame seeds
 1/4 cup maple syrup
  2 tablespoons molasses
 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Transfer to a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Bake, turning often with a spatula, until mixture is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Tastes great with fresh fruit as a topping.

6. Are you bored with water? Try some brewed herbal teas, without caffeine, on ice. Keep a 20-ounce water bottle with you in your car, at your desk or in your shoulder bag. Sometimes you may think you’re hungry, but you may actually be thirsty! Try drinking a cup of water, then re-evaluate!

Here is a recipe for an herbal tea I enjoy in the afternoon.  It can be served warm or iced and I love to sip it while at work.

Lemon Verbena & Lavender Tea
1 cup lemon verbena leaves
3 Tbls lavender flowers

Mix the herbs thoroughly, and store in an air tight container. For a cup of tea, use 1 tsp in a cup of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes and strain out the leaves. Enjoy with a bit of honey.

7. Try soy. If you haven’t tried tofu, you haven’t tried one of the most nutritious and delicious foods around. Tofu is a versatile food that takes on the flavors you cook it with. Instead of chicken, try a stir-fry of extra firm tofu, garlic, sesame oil and vegetables.  Soy is a great item to blend with herbs as it can enhance the flavor.

Scrambled Tofu (easy and so tasty you don’t know its tofu!)
1 carton soft tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
¼ teaspoon turmeric or curry powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon, basil, or marjoram
2 tablespoons snipped chives or finely sliced scallions
½ cup grated Cheddar, Muenster, goat, or feta cheese

1. Drain the tofu, wrap it in a towel, and press while you gather the rest of the ingredients.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a medium skillet. When hot, crumble the tofu into the pan in pieces about the size of scrambled-egg curds. Sprinkle with the turmeric, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until dry and firm (but not hard), for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add the herbs and cheese, taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a dash of paprika over the top for color.

If your resolution was to eat better or less or even to diet, always incorporate herbs because if you enhance the flavor you enjoy the calories you eat more and are satisfied sooner which will cut down on cravings!  To see the full line of herb seasonings and herb teas check out our website  You’ll find more recipes there too!

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