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Satisfy gourmet cravings without breaking resolutions

A wide variety of balsamic vinegars are available at most grocery stores.
A wide variety of balsamic vinegars are available at most grocery stores.
Jen Silate

It’s the start of a new year and many are making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and change eating habits. For most, dieting means eating less than gourmet fare. Baked chicken with no sauce, salads with no dressing, celery sticks, rice cakes—what’s a weight conscious foodie to do? Gourmet food isn’t just foie gras, truffle oil, and duck fat fries. You don’t have to look far for delicious, healthy foods that will satisfy your gourmet cravings.

One gourmet staple to keep close at hand when planning meals is balsamic vinegar. Premium aged balsamic vinegars bring a lot of flavor and a touch of sweetness to dishes without adding many calories—about 20 per tablespoon. Vinegars with “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” on the label are the highest quality and the only true traditional balsamic vinegars, aged a minimum of 12 years. A drizzle of premium balsamic will improve any salad or meat and can even be used on fruit for dessert. These vinegars can be quite costly though and a tasty alternative is to make a reduction with a more run of the mill balsamic vinegar.

Balsamic vinegar is a major ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, which is thought of by many doctors world-wide to be one of the healthiest cuisines. Olives, fish, and legumes dominate the Mediterranean diet, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, and even wine. The possibilities are endless when using these ingredients and gourmet markets and grocery stores around the Baltimore metro area have responded with olive bars, widening selections of fish, and availability of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. Keeping your resolution to eat healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up your gourmet tendencies, in fact it can mean eating even better tasting foods than you ever have before—a great start to the new year.

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