I really enjoy healthy eating. I find pleasure in preparing nutritious foods that make me feel well, and keep me energized. Most days of the week, I’m excited to come home and spend some time in the kitchen creating fun, delicious meals with fresh ingredients. But some nights I’m just not.
When you have a busy schedule, I’ve found, one of the first things to fall behind is home-cooking. This becomes especially easy when you live in an area that has a variety of take-out options that make dinner-time nice and easy (Thai restaurant two buildings down from me - I’m lookin’ at you.) While it may be convenient, it isn’t always the healthiest.
To stay focused on eating healthful foods, it’s important to have a handful of easy, go-to meals in your back pocket (meal-planning is a great tool, too, but more on that in an upcoming post!) What you need to watch out for is falling into a rut.. Salads are great and all, but who wants to have one every night if you’re not spicing it up?!
In honor of #NationalNutritionMonth, I wanted to talk about ways to incorporate new flavors into otherwise run-of-the-mill foods, to help you “Savor the Flavor” (which is this year’s theme), and maybe try something new! Below are some ideas to get you thinking about ways to brighten up your foods with new and exciting herbs, spices, and flavor combos.
When friends or family ask me for tips for healthy eating, I usually recommend this template: Pick a protein (meat, poultry, tofu, tempeh, beans - get creative!), a whole grain, and veggies, and get creative with flavors and spices! You can turn any meal into an ethnic treat that won’t get boring if you follow this, and are willing to tap into your inventive side.
- Grain: Brown rice
- Protein: Chicken or tofu
- Veggies: Carrots, red cabbage, snow peas
- Sauce: Coconut milk and red Thai curry paste
- Grain: Brown rice
- Protein: Chicken or tempeh
- Veggies: Broccoli
- Sauce: OJ, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.
Cold Protein-packed Salad:
- Grain: Quinoa & black beans
- Veggies: Fresh jalapeños, avocado, black olives, and a handful of chopped cilantro
- Dressing: Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, fresh lime juice & a sprinkle of salt/pepper.
- Grain: Barley
- Protein: White beans
- Veggies: Celery, carrots, and zucchini
- Stock: chicken or veggie stock,
- Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley, chives, basil, dill, rosemary - whatever you have handy!
As for other ways to flavor your favorite foods...
Don’t forget about fresh herbs!
- Having an Italian-night? Chop fresh parsley and basil to top your lasagna. Want a salad, but with kicked up flavor? Toss your greens with fresh dill for a little extra zip.
- Citrus zest is a great way to brighten up a meal - add it to sauces, dressings, and whole-grain baked goods for a super-fresh flavor.
Speaking of Salads…
Make your salad dressing work, too! When you’re mixing up a vinaigrette, stir in some dried turmeric (such as Daily Turmeric) to up its nutrition, flavor, and antioxidant-support*.
Get CLOSE with ginger and garlic.
Garlic can up the flavor of most dishes, and ginger and garlic are the holy grail of spice combos if you ask me - saute fresh garlic and ginger together to create a spicy base for stir-fry and Thai dishes!
...How do you Savor the Flavor? We’d love to hear how you upgrade your quick and easy go-to meals with spice variations!
Happy cooking (and eating!)
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.