Whether you are dieting to lose weight or to improve your health, your long-term success will depend on your open mindedness, creativity and willingness to experiment with new tastes and cooking techniques. Changing the eating habits of a lifetime can be difficult and frustrating. Finding flavorful, low-salt and low-fat seasonings for main-dish staples, such as chicken, beef and fish, can make your transition to a healthier lifestyle easier and more enjoyable.
Benefits of a Low-Salt, Low-Fat Diet
Practical reasons exist to follow a low-salt, low-fat diet. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website says that being overweight increases your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, but controlling your blood pressure and your weight reduces those risks. Studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health show that the DASH diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is effective in lowering blood pressure. While the DASH diet is not a weight loss program per se, you may lose pounds because it limits fat and portion size.
Seasonings for Chicken
Chicken lends itself to a variety of seasonings. Sage, rosemary, thyme and tarragon are frequent choices. Fresh herbs are superior in flavor if you have them, but dried varieties are acceptable; check the expiration date to be sure they are not stale. Plan to use about a third less dried herbs than fresh, but to be safe, read the label for the suggested ratio. Garlic, onions, celery and carrots add a nutritional bonus to chicken recipes, and their flavors help compensate for the lack of salt and fat.
Seasonings for Beef
Onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic and tomatoes are natural choices to accompany beef. They add zest to everything from soup to spaghetti sauce. These vegetables themselves are effective seasonings, but their flavors can be enhanced by herbs and spices to make your low-salt, low-fat beef dishes interesting and satisfying. Basil, oregano and thyme are traditional choices for Italian dishes. If you are a fan of Mexican foods, experiment with cumin, chili powder, cilantro, garlic powder and black pepper.
Seasonings for Fish
Baked or broiled fish is ideal for the low-salt, low-fat diet. Seasoning can be minimal and tailored to your personal preferences. A pinch or two of fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, dill weed or basil, may be sufficient to please your palate. If you prefer more robust seasoning, salt-free commercial blends that combine garlic and onion powder with pepper and other spices may appeal to your taste. Top individual fish portions with lemon slices for baking or broiling, and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice just prior to serving. Lemon adds its own tangy flavor, sharpens the flavors of other herbs and spices, and eliminates the need for salt and fat.