Although vegetables are essential for optimal health, some people find it difficult to consume adequate amounts as some can be bland and unpalatable. Incorporating healthy seasonings in your vegetables enhances their taste while retaining their health benefits. This article will provide a guide to incorporating healthy seasonings in your vegetables.
Types of Healthy Vegetable Seasonings
The most common types of healthy veg seasonings include herbs and spices, citrus fruits, edible oils, natural sweeteners, vinegars, ethnic seasonings, seeds and nuts, and seasoning blends.
Commonly used herbs for seasoning vegetables include cilantro, dill, lemon grass, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon, and more. They can be used fresh or dried. Fresh herbs are more potent and add a raw herbs taste to your vegetables.
The taste of dried herbs can vary from one brand to another. Therefore, experiment with different brands to establish the ones you prefer. Dried herbs also require proper storage in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to retain their flavor and prevent mold growth.
On the other hand, the most commonly used spices for seasoning veggies include cloves, cumin, cardamom, dill seeds, nutmeg, etc. Most are available in dried and powdered versions for easy storage and use in recipes.
You can also use citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, and orange to season your veggies. They add a bright, fresh taste to vegetables. There are different ways to add citrus fruits to your recipes. For example, try squeezing some fresh lemon juice over steamed broccoli or adding lime zest to roasted cauliflower.
You also use fresh citrus fruit juice as a marinade for your veggies before cooking or baking them. Some people prefer to sprinkle citrus juice on their cooked vegetables when serving to add a potent tangy taste.
Although oils are calorie-dense, they are a great option for healthy veggie seasonings when used sparingly. Some healthy options include olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Keep in mind that different oils have different flavors and smoking points, so use the suitable type depending on your cooking method.
Adding a small amount of natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup to your veggies can balance out the flavors and make them more palatable.
There are a variety of vinegars that can be used to season veggies, such as apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar. Vinegar adds depth and complexity to the flavors of vegetables. They particularly pair well roasted vegetables. Splash 1-2 tablespoons of fruity vinegar on your cooked veggies just before completing the cooking process for enhanced flavor.
Himalayan pink salt and sea salt are healthier options than regular table salt. They enhance flavor without adding sodium.
Seeds and Nuts
Nuts and seeds add crunch to your cooked vegetables. Toasting nuts and seeds before adding them to vegetables adds a depth of flavor. To season with nuts, simply toss 1-2 tablespoons of roasted nuts and seeds in your cooked veggies or salad. You can mix them up with the veggies or leave them at the top as garnishing. However, use them sparingly as they are calorie-dense.
Different cuisines and cultures have their own unique seasonings that are used to season specific recipes or with a wide range of recipes. Research common seasonings for your preferred cuisine to find out if they are healthy and how to make them.
A seasoning blend is made by combining various herbs, spices, and flavoring. Seasoning blends can be store-bought or homemade. They provide a more complex flavor compared to the individual herbs and spices. Popular seasoning blends include Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, and curry powder.
Unhealthy Seasonings for Veggies
Not all seasonings are considered healthy. Some are unhealthy due to their high levels of ingredients such as salt, sugar, or artificial additives. As such, they should be used in moderation or avoided altogether.
For example, excessive use of table salt may be unhealthy due to its high sodium level. High sodium intake has been linked to an increased risk of blood pressure and heart disease.
Although butter can add flavor to vegetables, excessive use adds high levels of saturated fat and calories to your veggies. Similarly, cream and creamy salad dressings are high in fat and calories. Also, avoid hydrogenated oils as they have been chemically altered and can increase the risk of heart disease.
Some store-bought seasoning mixes contain artificial sweeteners, flavor enhancers, artificial food colorings, and preservatives. Read the ingredient list carefully and keep off seasonings that contain chemicals. Look out for MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) in the ingredient list. It’s a flavor enhancer that has been linked to headaches and allergic reactions in some people.
Advantages of Healthy Vegetable Seasonings
The top advantage of healthy vegetable seasonings is that they improve the taste of vegetables. Whichever flavor profile you prefer, there is a wide range of vegetable seasonings to work with. Try out different ones with different vegetables to see what works best.
Healthy vegetable seasonings can also help with weight management. Most are low in calories. Therefore, they do not contribute significantly towards your daily calorie intake. Some, such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne pepper, help to suppress and curb hunger. Furthermore, by improving the taste of vegetables, healthy vegetable seasonings enable you to increase your vegetable intake for effective weight management.
Vegetable seasonings are a great substitute for table salt. If you have doctor’s instructions to avoid food with high sodium content, vegetable seasonings are a great alternative to boost the taste of your food. Even if you do not have a salt intake prohibition, incorporating healthy seasonings in your vegetables can help to keep your sodium intake within the recommended daily intake levels.
Healthy vegetable seasonings offer numerous health benefits. In fact, some are considered superfoods as they are packed with a wide range of nutrients, while others are highly potent with specific nutrients.
For example, cinnamon has anti-diabetic properties as it helps to lower blood sugar levels. Sage improves memory and brain function, while turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, among others, have anti-inflammatory properties.
Tips for Choosing Healthy Seasoning for Veggies
As mentioned earlier, there is a wide range of healthy seasonings for vegetables. Although the variety is welcome when experimenting with different flavor profiles, it can be confusing when deciding which seasonings to pair with certain vegetables. This section offers some tips for choosing healthy seasonings for veggies.
The first tip is to go for seasonings that have additional health benefits. Choose seasonings that are high in antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties.
For example, herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, and rosemary contain high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage. On the other hand, herbs and spices such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Secondly, avoid processed seasonings. Many store-bought seasoning blends contain added salt, sugar, and preservatives, which can harm health. Instead, opt for fresh herbs and spices or make your own seasoning blends at home.
Try out different vegetable seasonings. Expose yourself to the various flavors to establish what you like. While experimenting with different herbs and species, consider the dish you are seasoning. Some seasonings work better with certain dishes. For example, curry powder is a good choice for seasoning a curry dish, while cumin and paprika are good choices for seasoning oven roasted vegetables.
Finally, consider if you have a health condition that prohibits or limits the use of certain seasonings or seasoning blends. Also, some spices and herbs may be contraindicated for certain medications. Furthermore, some seasonings may have adverse health effects when used excessively.
For example, salt consumption is restricted for people with high blood pressure. On the other hand, cinnamon contains a compound known as coumarin, which may cause adverse side effects such as liver damage, allergies, or extremely low blood sugar levels when used in large amounts.
The right use of vegetable seasoning will make roasted and fresh vegetables palatable. We have highlighted the best options for healthy seasonings for vegetables. Experiment with different ones to find which flavors you prefer.
That said, keep in mind that a healthy diet should focus on eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, including a variety of fruits and fresh vegetables. It should also include carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
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