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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Three tricks for making your food tasier

Image from Flickr, by jpockele
Has one of the problems with eating healthy been the bland taste you associate with healthy foods?  If so, you're so not alone on that one.  The truth is, there's a reason the phrase "if it tastes good, spit it out," has been used so often to describe advice on eating healthy.  For years and years, that was the rule of thumb.  There's a reason the health care system calls a no salt diet a "bland" diet.

It doesn't have to be that way though.  There are a ton of things that you can do to season up a chicken breast so that it isn't so boring.  Here are a few tips that may help you actually enjoy eating healthier.

1. Fresh herbs and spices are your best friend

Skip the dried out herb and go for the fresh stuff. That, coupled with spices, are your new best friends.  These let you season up otherwise bland foods to your heart's content.  Folks, for ages, man didn't have ready access to salt.  It was expensive.  In fact, it was used as currency in our history.  This meant that most people used salt sparingly, and used other spices and herbs to flavor their foods.  Honestly, this is a good idea.

Salt has its place in cooking.  Professional chefs generally salt all foods before serving just to punch up the flavor.  However, the problem comes in when you skip the gentle sprinkle of salt and go full on "salt psycho".  Folks who do this are really just looking for flavor, and that can be provided with whatever herbs and spices you can get your hands on.  What's more, this makes you the artist of your dish.  Like a little heat?  Cayenne and red pepper flakes might be just what you need.  Love Italian cooking?  Then oregano, basil, and garlic might just be what you're looking for.

Just like this, you have tons of flavor in a healthy package.

2. Learn new cooking techniques

The first time I ever sauteed a vegetable, it was because I was sick of eating them steamed.  I instantly fell in love with it and now sauteed vegetables are a family favorite.  Different ways of cooking unlock the natural flavors in food in different ways.  The result is a different taste.  Roasted chicken tastes very different than boiled chicken, both of which taste different than grilled chicken.  So what am I getting at?

It's simple.

As you learn new techniques to cook things, you'll learn new ways to make flavors without resorting to excessive salt.  This will also have the added benefit of making a more limited selection of foods seem like a whole lot more variety than you had been eating, simply because you've now pushed through the boundaries of what you knew.  In fact, you could probably eat chicken every day for several weeks and not get tired of it, provided you continually change how you cook it.

3.  Combine foods for combined flavors

While there are tons of combinations of herbs, spices, and cooking techniques, there's a third option for making your healthy eating more flavorful.  That option?  Combining the foods themselves.

Beef stew, for example, has a unique flavor with hints of the ingredients.  The same is true of chicken soup.  In fact, you're used to combining ingredients to create your favorite dishes.  This is no different.  I mean it.  It's the exact same thing.

When you take different foods and merge them together, you get different flavors.  That's all a recipe is.  However, if you're the kind who looks for recipes before cooking, try stretching yourself a bit.  Instead of following someone else's recipes to the letter, take some of your favorite foods and see if you can put them together in appetizing ways.  You will make mistakes.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Just learn and move forward.

And there you have it.  Three ways to make your healthy food tasty.  This is hardly all encompassing.  These are simple.  In fact, you probably said something like "Duh!" a time or two while reading this.  Yet, far to many people never have grasped that such simple ideas can change their whole outlook on healthy eating.

How about you?

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