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Spice it up!

I feel like I am in somewhat of a cooking rut. Because I am trying to stray away from high cal dressings, sauces, etc, I feel that a lot of my meals have become somewhat bland (or I am sick of the spices I typically use). I love (spicy) Mexican/Asian foods so I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on how/what to use to spice up different meals? (salads, stir frys, etc). Thanks!

Wed. Sep 19, 2:37pm

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I make great green beans (would also work with stir-fry) where I toss the green beans in a pan with a little bit of water to steam them, and then add some lemon juice and garlic, and some crushed red pepper (adjust your amount to your taste in spice), and let the liquid pretty much cook off (it's maybe a couple tablespoons of liquid total), stirring, etc. Then I add a few shakes of low-sodium soy sauce, and toss the beans in the soy sauce until it has mostly cooked off, and actually gets kind of cooked onto the pan - just before it starts burning. It tastes caramelized and sweet, with the asian flavor, and the spice from the crushed red pepper flakes. Everyone I know loves them!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 4:52 PM

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I have been using totased seaseme oil on stir frys with some chillis.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 5:13 PM

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Vietnamese food is great, add some cilantro and/or mint to your asian dishes, or basil for Thai. These should be fresh.

Try adding chipotles to your Mexican food, or add an ounce or two of unsweetened chocolate to a red sauce for a knockoff molé. Hope I helped!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 5:20 PM

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I use a lot of stewed tomatoes that have seasoning in them. I use it in enchiladas (as well as a pkt of enchilada seasoning) sometimes tacos, lasagna, and someitmes I just have it for a soup. About a hundred calories and very tasty.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 5:58 PM

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Dehydrated Shallots add terrific flavor to sauces. I lovelovelove the roasted red pepper paste from Trader Joe's - not bad calorically and good flavor. Balsamic vinegar adds some great zest as does apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar. Cooking with a bit of white or red wine adds great flavor for not too many calories.

A great base for a sauce is 1/4 cup white wine and 1/4 cup chicken or veggie brother. For example - I'll start with that then I add 2 heaping Tbsp of red pepper paste, Litehouse Salad Herbs seasoning mix and I toss that with shrimp, a bit of bowtie pasta, carrots, red pepper, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, asparagus and shallots or garlic for an amazing (and flavorful) dish that my friends rave over.

When you use lots of veggies - you want flavor, but you don't want to overpower the more delicate flavors of the vegetables, nor do you want to coat your tastebuds with fats and salt. Vinegars and wine cleanse the palate and stimulate your tastebuds and salivary glands. You can keep them subtle and still get these benefits. Peppers (not necessarily just hot ones) are also great for flavor with few calories. Onions, shallots and garlic are also flavorful but can be overpowering. I love to start with finely chopped challots or onions though and sautee them to softness before adding the other ingredients - it breaks down the starches and releases their natural sweetness.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 7:00 PM

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guys-be careful w/ all the pre-made seasoning packets, the majority of them contain a ton of sodium that you don't need! You're better off reading the ingredients, see which spices/herbs they use and experiment adding your own and controlling your salt intake (and avoid weird preservatives and anticaking agents).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 7:07 PM

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