Foodie Frills: 4 ways to dress a dish without adding calories


Much like a fashionable ensemble, a culinary delight can fall flat without the right accouterments. Here are four excellent food accessories that will dress your dishes by delivering a powerful punch while adding minimal calories.

Water chestnuts

Food is a sensory experience and texture is essential to creating a perfectly balanced dish. While water chestnuts won’t add much flavor, they do provide a lovely crisp crunch. A quarter cup of chopped chestnuts will only add about 30 calories and are especially great in any rice, pasta or casserole dish. They are typically used in Asian-inspired dishes, but don’t be afraid to use them with any type of cuisine. Their slightly nutty flavor easily takes on the seasonings of anything you cook them with.  

Fresh herbs

Using fresh, from-the-stem herbs is an optimal way to load up on flavor! Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of any fresh chopped herb will run about 5 to 10 calories. Basil, rosemary, mint, tarragon, cilantro, sage, thyme, dill and chives are scrumptious staples in the herb family. Bake fish or chicken in parchment with a dab of olive oil, pepper and a lovely combination of fresh herbs for a nutritious low-sodium meal. Add them to greens and veggies for a super savory salad.  The good news is fresh herbs in salads creates less demand for dressing. Healthy and delish! Fresh herbs for the win!

Chili garlic sauce

If you love Sriracha sauce, you need to check out the chili garlic sauce made by the same company, Huy Fong Foods (the brand with the rooster mascot). It’s even more flavorful and has nice texture from chili seeds with an extra kick of heat. Presented in a small jar with their signature green top, just a dab’ll do ya; it is concentrated and much spicier, so a little bit goes a long way. With zero calories per 1 tablespoon, it is a great addition to rice or pasta dishes, mixed in marinades or sautéed with veggies and/or meat. Chili garlic sauce is great for cooking while Sriracha makes a stellar condiment.

Sautéed onions and garlic

To add rich flavor to veggie or meat dishes, sauté 1/4 of a finely chopped onion with 1 to 2 tablespoons of minced garlic in 1 teaspoon of oil. Onions and garlic create richness and bring out the natural flavors in pasta dishes, rice dishes, meats, sauces, sautéed veggies and even salads. Just be sure to cool the mixture before adding to any salad so it doesn’t make it soggy. It is an instant flavor boost for only 60 calories. Yum!

Picture credit: Pic Jumbo

FoodSarah BlackmanComment