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Spices burst with flavor, help you slim down

January 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
When you think about starting a healthy meal plan, most of us choose lean proteins like poultry and eggs. Both are great choices to slim you down, but they get a little boring after a while. Chef and restaurateur Jeffrey Saad is taking bland to brilliant with the help of spices.Saad, Food Network's "The Spice Smuggler," knows that for very little calories, spices can do the trick.

"Spices are brilliant because they burst with flavor, but no weight, no fat. So it's healthy, but you feel good about it," Saad said.

Saad proved it with a morning scramble.

"Eggs, I've sautéed a little bit of onions and turmeric, just a touch of olive oil, just to let the turmeric melt into the onions and get a little bit roasted," he said.

Fold your egg into it, and it's a perfectly healthy and balanced meal.

One of Saad's favorites is a bottle called Chinese Five Spice, which contains star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns and fennel in poached chicken meat balls.

Saad blanched bok choy, adding sweet carrots and boiled spiced rice to the chicken topping, then added spice.

"You've got Five Spice in the rice, but now we also have this sauce, which is a soy hoisin and toasted fennel seed sauce," Saad said.

Saad also did a take on turkey with sautéed leeks and smoked paprika.

"Smoked paprika is my friend," he said. "It has this fire roasted flavor of chili. It's not too spicy, brilliant red color. I mean, it just completely changes the tone of whatever it is you put it in."

What many would think decadent is actually diet friendly, with lean ground turkey and spicy tomato sauce.

"They have a great appearance because you eat with your eyes," Saad said.

And beyond these dishes, he recommends a spice grinder to help your waistline.

"If you buy a spice grinder, best $20 investment you could ever make. You grind whole seeds, all their oils, boom, come out," Saad said. "That's going to be a lot more flavorful than if you have a dried one or one that's been in the cabinet since you bought the house."