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No, Spice is the Spice of Life


He who controls the Spice controls the universe.
-Baron Harkonnen, Dune, 1984



Totally awesome eating is all about flavor. Salty, sweet, savory or spicy—alone or in a balanced dance—flavor beats my other two food priorities; volume and texture, as the key to succulent satisfaction.

And, y’know what? Flavor is free.

Spice is the key to flavor, and almost every spice is a calorie inert thing. Even better, Spring and Summer are the seasons of grilling and grilling is the cooking of the spice rub. Grilling is also a very low-cal way to cook. And me? I love the words “low calorie” when paired with awesome flavor because it always says “eat the heck out of me!”

This Friday we’re taking it light on calorie and on effort. Here’s three dishes that are grilled, spiced and so low calorie that not only will you eat the heck out of them, but they may just take over the plate and muscle out the meat. Plus, they’re my favorite type of grill food to prepare—mix in a bag style! Grilling from a bag is a Summer Culinary Art form; embrace the revolution.

Unless otherwise stated, consider these recipes a guide into flavor town where there are no measurements and everything is “to taste.”

Also, if you’re daring like me, you’ll use non-stick spray butter on your grill, and as the veggies are grilling, so they don’t stick. But, use caution and judgment. If you blow yourself up, it’s on you, m’friend.


Cumin Carrots


A whole bunch of carrots (You can use baby ones if you’re using a grill pan, but the long ones work better right on the grill—also, peeling or not peeling is your call. Both work fine for me.)spicy-Cumin-1024x734

Splenda Brown Sugar or Truvia (or other no-sugar sweetener)
Salt and Pepper of course!

Throw all the ingredients in a zipper bag, toss and bring ‘em right to the grill. The carrots should be just peeled or water-dampened.


Balsamic Asparagus


Olive oil, sesame oil and balsamic vinegarOne bundle of Asparagus, trimmed. Though this recipe doesn’t have any powdered spices, it is still a super low calorie marinade due to the main ingredients of balsamic and mustard spread over the volume of asparagus. You can go strait from tossing to grilling or leave them in the fridge for up to ½ a day to get even tastier.

Balsamic Vinegar
Dijon Mustard
Honey (one tablespoon melted and diluted in 2 tablespoons of water)
Salt and Pepper of course!

Throw all the ingredients in a zipper bag ‘em, toss ‘em and grill ‘em. I usually make a little extra marinade to baste on the grill and blacken these a bit.


Coca Grilled Acorn Squash


Look at those first three ingredients—can you think of a more luxurious mix of spice blend than coca, coffee and cinnamon? Right, no. Take that Acorn Squash, poke it with some holes and microwave it for, like 6-8 minutes until it’s softer, but not finished. I like to call it par microwaved, instead of par boiled. Then cut it in on the short side, so you make two “bowl shapes.” Scoop out the innards and slice into rings.

A bit of unsweetened Coca Powder
Instant Coffee (yep)
Truvia (or other no-sugar sweetener)
Salt and Pepper of course!

You guessed it; bag, toss grill! These will take longer to get soft and you may burn the skin if the meat isn’t soft enough first—though I like my squash a bit al dente. If you find that they’re still too tough when the skin is done, just microwave a bit longer next time.

Grill well, my friends and eat the heck out of ‘em because—never forget—flavor is free, but he who controls the spice, controls the universe.


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