While it is true that fat leads to flavor, it's not the only way to get there.
Creative spice blends and condiments can add plenty of wow-inducing (but low-calorie) flavor to low-fat foods. And since the holidays are upon us, why not make some of these to give as gifts? Plus, most of them are affordable and easy to make.
Start at a grocer that sells dried herbs and spices in bulk bins — many natural foods stores are good sources. This is the least expensive way to purchase them, and they often are fresher than bottled varieties.
Dry flavoring blends can be made either by mixing preground herbs and spices or grinding whole spices in a blender, food processor or clean coffee grinder.
• Try garam masala, a common Indian spice blend that can be used for curries, a meat rub or even to season popcorn. To make a 1-cup batch, combine a crushed 5-inch cinnamon stick with 4 tablespoons each of black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, plus 2 teaspoons each of whole cloves and grated nutmeg. Toast in a large dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely, then grind, in batches if necessary. The blend can be packaged in decorative spice jars or small plastic gift bags.
• To make a dry Italian seasoning blend, combine 3 tablespoons each of dried basil, oregano and parsley with 1 tablespoon each of granulated garlic, dried rosemary, dried thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each of black peppercorns and crushed red pepper flakes. Grind, in batches if necessary. Makes about 1 cup.
Custom-blended condiments such as ketchups and mustard also are easy to make and can be packaged in decorative canning jars.
• A spicy curried ketchup can be made by combining 1 cup of prepared ketchup with 1 to 2 tablespoons of garam masala spice blend.
• This recipe for citrus-caraway mustard can be prepared in about 10 minutes and makes four 4-ounce jars. If you like, you can include a recipe card with suggestions for using this sweet and savory condiment on sandwiches, as a dip or as a coating along with some panko bread crumbs for pork tenderloin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts.