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Eating healthy doesn’t mean bland chicken, vegetables and grains — even if that’s what made up some of our dietitian’s grocery haul. Knowing how to use spices can make healthy living enjoyable (and doable). In addition to being a natural way to add flavor, many spices also have added benefits.

Garlic powder: Garlic is technically a vegetable, even though few people eat it like one. If you’re the type that needs to trick yourself into thinking you’re eating veggies, that’s a win. Garlic also benefits cardiovascular health.

Mrs. Dash Blends: Pre-blended spice mixes for every occasion that are sodium free. What’s not to love?

Paprika: A subtle wood-fired flavor gives your food a little extra complexity. Try it in a healthy chili or sprinkle it on hard-boiled eggs, if you’re not doing that already.

Cayenne: When you need a teeny bit of heat, a pinch or two of cayenne pepper does you right. It’s excellent in many different types of dishes, from roasted root vegetables to a simple soup.

Onion powder: Onion powder adds a sweet and savory flavor to certain dishes that you can’t get from fresh onions. And it won’t make you cry either.

Whole peppercorns: Buy whole peppercorns and grind them when you need them to keep the flavors fresher.

Pumpkin pie spice: Because we all feel a little basic sometimes and need some satisfaction. Sprinkle some in your coffee or oatmeal to take things up a notch without adding the thousand calories a PSL carries.

Nutmeg: Thought to improve brain function and sooth indigestion, this spice adds a lot of flavor to your baking.

Black pepper: Well, obviously.

Italian blends: An easy (and low calorie) way to spice up anything for a taste of the homeland.

Bonus Items:

  • Salsas are a great way to spice up your life and add flavor to everything from your morning eggs to your healthy burrito bowls with very few calories.
  • Different types of mustards also add a lot of flavor with very little calories. Plus now they come in a variety of flavors so you don’t have to just get the bright yellow bottle of tang that everyone associates with hot dogs (unless you want to).
  • Olive oil and Pam olive oil spray are essential for cooking. Just be careful when you’re measuring out the olive oil you cook with, because it has calories and they count, too.

Nutrition is not a one size fits all solution to living a healthy life. For more personalized nutrition advice, see a registered dietitian at FirstHealth.

This post was produced in partnership with FirstHealth.

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