Let's face it, food needs to taste good in order for us to enjoy it. The problem for many is that the healthier foods are not palatable unless they are saturated in salt, fat and butter. This defeats the purpose of eating healthier.
For many, the month of March symbolizes the potential end to winter and the beginning of sunshine and warmer weather as spring embarks. Professionals in the health and nutrition field recognize March as National Nutrition Month. Although we encourage healthy eating habits throughout the entire year, March is really our month to get the word out on health and nutrition.
The theme for this year is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!” The title of the theme is spot on. Let’s face it, food needs to taste good in order for us to enjoy it. The problem for many is that the healthier foods are not palatable unless they are saturated in salt, fat and butter. This defeats the purpose of eating healthier.
Nutrient-dense foods and beverages are a necessity in your meal plan. These items provide vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients that are beneficial to your health. You get more bang for your buck with these foods because they will not only provide the nutrients, but they will also add fewer calories. Typically, when your daily eating plan includes foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, fat-free or low-fat dairy, beans, nuts and seeds in the appropriate amounts, you will get many of the nutrients your body needs.
Here are some ways to intensify the flavor of foods without adding a bunch of fat and salt:
• High-heat cooking techniques (pan-searing, broiling, grilling) can help bring out the flavors of meat, poultry and fish.
• Adding red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties—sweet, hot and dried can help add some spice and pizazz. You can also try adding a dash of hot pepper sauce for that extra kick.
• Grilling or roasting veggies in a very hot (450°F) oven or grill will give them a sweet, smoky flavor. Brush or spray them lightly with oil so they don’t dry out. Sprinkle with herbs and then serve.
• Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sugar flavor by cooking them slowly over low heat in a small amount of olive oil. You can add the onions to your favorite meats or use them in sauces and gravies.
• Simmer juices to make reduction sauces. Concentrate the flavors of meat, poultry and fish stocks. Reduce the juices and use the finished product as a flavorful glaze or gravy.
• Add small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors like pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper, basil, cilantro or other fresh herbs and spices.
• Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel: lemon, lime or orange. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
• Enhance sauces, soups and salads with a splash of flavored balsamic or rice vinegar.
• Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, and salsas of all kinds. My personal favorite is mango salsa.
Making healthier food choices doesn’t mean you need to punish your taste buds. There are plenty of ways to spice up foods. Do yourself and your taste buds a favor and try something different this week. Try a new vegetable or side dish. If you are hesitant to try a new dish, then try a different cooking method for an old dish. You will be surprised at how many different ways you can modify a simple, healthy dish.
LaDale Walker, RD, LDN, of Middletown Family Wellness and Counseling is a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist. She can be reached at (302) 449-4166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.