Marinate some cucumbers in apple cider vinegar and some water.

Let’s get spicy! Savoring the Flavor is the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month! There are a lot of great ways to add  to foods that make them absolutely delicious! Here are just a few ways to add some punch to your meals!

Paprika, pepper, basil and bay leaves.

Paprika, pepper, basil and bay leaves.

1. Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices add lots of flavor without adding the extra salt that we don’t need. Here are just a few ideas:


Make your own Italian salad dressing with a pinch of pepper, Italian herb seasoning, pressed fresh garlic, ¼ cup vinegar and ½ cup olive oil with just a sprinkle of salt. Fresh dressings are much more tasty than the store bought dressings without the extra sodium.

Most tomato sauces added to pasta, and other recipes are traditionally higher in salt. Make your own lower salt version with no-salted-added sauce with oregano, basil, fresh garlic, thyme, a pinch of red pepper and a sprinkle of salt to make a sauce that you won’t forget!

Store bought soups are often full of sodium. You can make your own broths with lots of herbs, vegetables and soup bones if desired. I love to use thyme, bay leaves and a little savory in my favorite soups but there are endless possibilities! Make extra broth and freeze for next time too. If you don’t have time to make your broth there are several brands of natural, low sodium bouillon that you can use also. Just add your favorite herbs and spices!

To make eggs flavorful I love to add thyme to potato and broccoli frittata, basil to greens and feta omelets and chili powder to breakfast burritos.

Try fresh herbs in place of dried ones for a change of pace. Mix them in salads. Add them for garnish on top of your favorite dishes. Make pesto for soup toppings, sandwich spreads, pizza sauces or pastas. Check out some of my favorite pesto recipe ideas here

Making salad dressings with olive oil is a great treat for your heart and taste buds!

Making salad dressings with olive oil is a great treat for your heart and taste buds!

2. Using Flavored Vinegar

As you have seen in the local grocery stores, the sky is the limit with flavored vinegar! To keep my meal prep simple, I like to keep just the basics on hand and then layer them as desired with herbs and seasoning. Here are the vinegar choices that I always have on hand:

Balsamic Vinegar- This aged vinegar creates a complex flavor to some of your favorite dressings and even tomato sauces. I like to use with many of my favorite salads such as Roasted Butternut Squash, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad and Spinach, Beet and Walnut SaladRice Wine Vinegar- I use this in my basic Asian marinades. For example, my stir fry recipe ideas here.
Red Wine Vinegar- I really like this vinegar in a bean salad because it adds a lot of structure to the recipe. Here is a Red Potato Salad with Green Beans and Potato recipe that utilizes this vinegar!
Apple Cider Vinegar- One of my favorite ways to use this is to make marinated cucumbers in the summer using half vinegar and half water to cover the cucumbers.Marinate some cucumbers in apple cider vinegar and some water.

Try some fresh lemon juice in Greek Salad

3. Fruit Juices and Grate Citrus Peel:

Lemon: I love using lemon juice in my Greek salad dressing and other Mediterranean Recipes. Grated lemon rind is delicious in this delcious Pasta Primavera!
Lime: This juice adds some zip to fajitas and other Mexican recipes. Try grated lime peel to to fruit salad to give it a sparkle!
Orange: Try orange juice for some refreshing salad dressings and grated orange rind is delicious in cooked whole grains.

I hope that you can use one or two or even more of these flavorful, healthy meal ideas to make those healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other lean proteins absolutely delicious! Stay tuned all month to see all the tasty ideas that I will be sharing for National Nutrition Month! As an Asheville dietitian and nutrition expert, I love to help others find meal planning ideas and plant based recipes to stay healthy and try new food and recipe ideas that they will love! Sign up for even more seasonal recipe ideas on my home page!

Try some fresh lemon juice in Greek Salad

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