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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

Top 5 Low-Cal / Low Fat Food Topper Substitutes

By: karen McPartland, RD
Senior Dietitian

We all want our food to taste good, but sometimes the toppings we use on our foods can add a lot of unnecessary calories, fat and salt to our day.  Here are some toppings that provide lots of flavor along with some health benefits!

You get about 10 calories and a lot of flavor for a 2 tablespoon serving of salsa!  So, use it for more than dipping your chips into!  Try to:

  • Top a baked potato with salsa instead of butter for a flavorful, moist potato
  • Add a small spoonful of salsa to a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or use salsa in place of flavorful, higher fat deli meats like salami
  • Mix salsa into rice instead of butter or salt

Hot Sauce
Besides a ton of flavor and minimal calories, hot sauce contains capsaicin, which may play a role in cancer prevention.  You can choose your potency…from mild to extra hot…and use hot sauce as an easy food topper: 

  • Add a splash of hot sauce to an egg omelet for a flavor punch instead of using bacon or breakfast meats
  • Mix cooked vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower with a little bit of hot sauce for a flavor kick
  • Mix canned tuna with hot sauce for a very low calorie flavor and moisture enhancer (in place of mayo)

0% Greek yogurt
Fat free and full of protein & probiotics, 0% Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, which makes it a great topping to use at any meal of the day:

  • Mix some garlic with a few tablespoons of 0% fat plain Greek yogurt and spread this over chicken breast or into cooked pasta
  • Replace mayonnaise or sour cream with 0% fat plain Greek yogurt for most dip recipes.  Check out PLC’s recipe in this newsletter for a tasty Spinach dip using Greek yogurt
  • Spread 0% fat flavored Greek yogurt on waffles, pancakes or even French Toast instead of using butter and syrup.  You can even try this spread on bagels instead of butter or cream cheese spread.

Part of the cabbage family, mustard is not only useful for its flavor; it has been shown to be quite helpful in supporting digestion, increasing metabolism and even minimizing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  Mustard can be used in may ways (not just as a sandwich or hot dog topping): 

  • Dip artichokes, asparagus, baby carrots, celery stalks and other vegetables in spicy brown mustard instead of dipping into high-fat, high-calorie dips
  • Use Dijon mustard in soups to add texture and flavor
  • Mix your favorite mustard with some olive oil, vinegar, garlic, etc. for a tasty alternative to bottled dressings

Herbs & Spices
Calorie-free and full of flavor, herbs & spices also contain disease-fighting antioxidants.  So, take a look at your spice rack and start experimenting!  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Instead of salting your next batch of air popped popcorn, combine 1 ½ teaspoons paprika, ½ teaspoon ground thyme and ½ teaspoon ground red pepper and mix this into your popcorn
  • Add 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon to your oatmeal instead of sugar
  • Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric to the water when cooking rice (1/4 teaspoon for each cup of rice you are making) instead of salt or butter

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