One great thing about vinegar that doesn't need more proof is its amazing ability to add a burst of flavor to your foods with busting your jeans button. Vinegar has only three calories per tablespoon. The tips below will show you how to use vinegar to cut calories and eat more vegetables.
Vary Your Vinegars
There is a plethora of vinegars available now, including everything from your basic distilled white vinegar (very versatile) to fancy herb- and fruit-infused vinegars. In fact, there are entire stores devoted to all things vinegar and oil. Vinegars infused with fruit flavors such as blueberry, coconut, pear, pineapple, pomegranate and blackberry-ginger--to name just a few--will ensure you new, exciting, complex tastes to your dishes.
Make Your Own Low-Calorie Salad Dressings
The great thing about making your own salad dressings from scratch is that you can control exactly what goes into them. By using more vinegar and less oil, you can create your own "light" salad dressing. Additionally, you can change up the flavor of the dressing each time by using different varieties of vinegar.
Simply combine your vinegar, oil, herbs, spices and salt into a screw-top jar and shake it up just before drizzling over your salads or cooked vegetables. You can also douse skewered veggies in your homemade salad dressing before grilling them.
Flavor Up Your Fish
Rather than slathering high-calorie, fat-laden tartar sauce on your fish, try splashing on some malt vinegar to enhance the fish flavor. Malt vinegar and fish are a classic combo, and make this dish even lower in calories by baking or grilling the fish instead of battering and deep-frying it.
Add Flavorful Zing to Your Veggies
We all know vegetables are good for us, but on their own they can seem a bit boring. In order to enhance their natural, delicious flavors, drizzle a little vinegar over your vegetables.
After steaming your favorite vegetables, drizzle some balsamic vinegar--which has a more intense, sweeter flavor than other vinegars--over the top and sprinkle on some herbs and spices.
Slim Down Your Sandwiches
Rather than relying on high-fat mayo or other calorie-bomb sandwich spreads, sprinkle on some vinegar (works best if you have some shredded lettuce or other veggies in your sandwich), which will help moisten and flavor your sandwiches and wraps.
Boost Flavor in Your Beans
Instead of seasoning your beans with a load of salt, toss in some vinegar right at the end of cooking. This will enhance the taste of the beans so you don't have to add too much salt. Beans are loaded with fiber, iron, protein and phytochemicals and the acidity of the vinegar can help increase the absorption of iron in the beans.
Tenderize Lean Meats
Marinate your lean cuts of meat (with less fat and marbling, lean meats can be tough) with vinegar to infuse both flavor and moisture.
Rice vinegar mixed with low-sodium soy sauce work well in stir-fry dishes or when added to steamed brown rice or other cooked whole grains.
Vinegar and Sweets?
Yes, it's true! Balsamic vinegar drizzled over fresh fruit or ice cream adds a depth of flavor that will delight your taste buds.
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children.