Five ways to add flavour to a meal without adding calories

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Let’s be honest, trying to stick to a healthy, low-calorie diet can be hard. If you like to indulge, or even if you just love your food, it can feel like a huge ask to cut out all of your delicious favourites and swap them for a ton of leafy greens. But what makes many people really struggle is the bland, flavourless meal options they’re often left with.

But eating healthy doesn’t have to be flavourless. Here are five ways to give your food a flavour boost without adding unnecessary calories:

Unsweetened cocoa powder

If you’re experiencing serious chocolate cravings, you’ll probably be considering grabbing a chocolate bar from your nearest vending machine – but if you’re calorie-cautious, you’ll know this is not the best idea. Instead, try adding some unsweetened cocoa powder to the mix. Cocoa powder is a delicious addition to otherwise bland foods like plain oats, Greek yoghurt, and wholegrain cereals, but it can also be added to smoothies or sprinkled over fresh fruit.

Calories: 4 per teaspoon


When it comes to stocking up your spice rack, turmeric is one spice you can’t afford to leave out. Packed full of anti-inflammatory properties, this Indian superfood adds a subtle spice and beautiful yellow colour to foods like rice, lentils and soups, and can also be used to marinade meat and vegetables before cooking.

Calories: 1 per teaspoon

Fresh herbs

When it comes to adding healthy flavour, fresh herbs are perhaps one of the most underestimated (and underappreciated!) ingredients we have. No matter what you’re cooking there’s a herb to take it up a notch, and often the even the smallest amount goes a long way! Herbs like parsley, basil, coriander and rosemary are a must-have for every kitchen, but the flavours of dill, bay leaves, sage and fennel are just as versatile. Invest in some herb pots for your kitchen window sill, and enjoy fresh, healthy flavour with every meal.

Calories: less than 1 per tablespoon


Like turmeric, cumin is a deliciously versatile spice with a distinct flavour. Originating from the Middle East, cumin is rich in iron with a mildly nutty and peppery taste. Cumin pairs well with other Middle Eastern flavours (think dukkha, falafel and chickpea curry) but is also popular in Indian and Mexican dishes. Available in seed and powder form, cumin can also be used to marinate meats or sprinkle over salads and veggies.

Calories: 7 per teaspoon

Hot sauce

If you’re looking for some healthy flavour that packs a punch, look no further than some good old hot sauce. Made primarily from blended chilli peppers, vinegar, salt and other spices, hot sauce is a great accompaniment to many Mexican, Spanish, African and Asian dishes, but can also be used as a spicy alternative to regular tomato sauce. If you’re worried about the burn, incorporate starchy foods like potato and rice to tone it down and give you some respite!

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