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Boost flavor in your meals without adding fat

Fresh herbs are chock full of flavor and provide great taste naturally, with very few calories and zero fat. With a quick chop and a sprinkle, you can easily boost the appeal of many foods, from roast chicken to a simple green salad.

Many fresh herbs also have healing and disease-fighting properties. Rosemary, sage, thyme, and mint, for instance, contain antioxidants, which may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. The flavor that fresh herbs provide may decrease your need for salt.

As the ground thaws and you start thinking about your summer garden, consider planting fresh herbs - it's an inexpensive way to have an almost endless supply of flavorful herb sprigs all summer long and well into the fall.

If you're wondering which herbs to plant, consider the following uses for these common herbs:

Toss with potatoes: Spray still steaming cooked new potatoes with cooking spray and add finely minced parsley.

Top a chicken breast: Put a chicken breast on a piece of foil and top with two very thin slices of lemon and a mixture of minced garlic, parsley, dill, and mint. Close up the packet and cook at 350 degrees until chicken is cooked through.

Add to a crisp salad: Toss roughly chopped herbs such as basil, tarragon, or parsley with salad greens for a great flavor boost.

Get creative with oil: Throw chopped garlic and torn basil in olive oil just before you use it to dress pasta.

Mix up pesto: Instead of making a traditional basil pesto, use parsley or cilantro as an alternative. Process two big handfuls of the herb in a blender with a clove of garlic, a little Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil to taste.

Add a minty kick: Freshen up summer drinks such as lemonade or smoothies with sprigs of mint.

Create savory salmon: Bake salmon with a little light butter and tarragon.

Garlic-Herb Roasted Pork Loin with Pear-Applesauce

Lean pork is infused with fresh rosemary, thyme and garlic in this wonderful entrée (recipe provided by Weight Watchers).

Ingredients:

3 pounds lean pork loin; use one whole 3-pound boneless roast

3 large garlic clove(s), cut into thin slivers

2 Tbsp. rosemary, fresh, chopped

2 Tbsp. thyme, fresh, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. table salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

2 cups unsweetened applesauce

2 medium pear(s), ripe, peeled, cored and diced

1/4 cup chives, fresh, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. With a small knife, poke about 24 slits into pork; insert garlic slivers into slits.

In small bowl, combine rosemary, thyme, oil, salt and pepper; rub mixture all over pork, pushing some of mixture into slits.

Line a large roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil (for easy clean-up). Place pork on a rack in prepared pan; roast, uncovered, until a meat thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 160 degrees F, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine applesauce, pears and chives.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes. Slice pork and arrange on serving platter; spoon any pan drippings over pork, if desired. Serve applesauce in a small bowl on the side. Yields about 3 ounces of pork and 1/4 cup of applesauce per serving.

Notes: Add your own flavor-spin to the pear-applesauce with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or allspice.