I used to think that low-fat, low calorie cooking was bland. Cooking while on my diet meant plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tiny naked baked potatoes. To be honest, my diets didn’t last very long. Then I started gardening. Poorly. In fact, the only things I could successfully grow were fresh herbs. I don’t garden any more, but my low-fat cooking has sure gotten a whole lot better!
Herbs, both fresh and dried, are like magic for low fat cooking. They can make even the most boring of foods taste interesting. They can make the simplest recipe seem fancy. And, best of all, they do it without adding a single calorie or gram of fat.
With that in mind, here are a couple of things that you could be doing with herbs if you’re not already:
When making scrambled eggs or an omelet, finely chop a tablespoon of fresh herbs and whisk them directly into the eggs before cooking along with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t have any fresh herbs available, just use a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of dried herbs. My favorite is thyme, but oregano, sage, and tarragon are also wonderful. I used to put low calorie cheese in my eggs, but since I started adding the herbs, I haven't needed to.
Nothing’s more boring than rice, but throwing a few sprigs of fresh herbs or a couple of bay leaves into the pot while cooking makes a huge difference. Or, to add even more flavor, you might want to try my favorite rice recipe. I prefer the short grain brown rice, but it works well with any kind of non-instant rice.
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 cup short grain brown rice
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (or oregano or a couple of bay leaves)
Heat the olive oil or butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the onion salt to the oil. Saute the onion until it is translucent and slightly golden (or if you prefer, you can caramelize the onion as much as you like). Add the rice to the pan and continue cooking for a few minutes, or until the edges of the rice begin to look a little translucent. Add the stock and the herbs, and bring the whole thing to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for as long as the packaging for your particular rice recommends. Before serving, don’t forget to remove the bay leaves or the stems from the herbs if you threw them in whole.
Tomatoes with Basil:
This dish is best in the summer, when the tomatoes are perfectly ripe and delicious and the basil is fresh. Don’t use dried basil for this. Just slice up various colors of tomatoes and arrange on a plate. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or just the vinegar if you want something totally non-fat). Stack several basil leaves and roll into a little cigar shape and then slice crosswise to make long, pretty ribbons of basil. Sprinkle these over the top of the tomatoes, and enjoy! To turn it into a classic Insalata Caprese, just add some sliced, fresh low-fat mozzarella. If you want to mix it up a little, try different fresh herbs.
Note: Image featured in this post is from FreeDigitalPhotos.net