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How to Make Food More Flavorful

Updated on November 23, 2014
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Whether you have a special or standard diet, you want your food to taste good!

Flavorful food is a delight to eat! It excites the palate and soothes the soul. Food is not just about nutritional sustenance; it is also about pleasing our sense of taste as we sit down to a meal.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for people to find their food dull and unsatisfying. Some of this is because fruits and vegetables in the modern world are grown for color and longevity more than for flavor. Another critical issue involves the diets that many of us choose or are required to maintain for health reasons.

Folks who go on low-fat diets, who are avoiding salt or artificial flavors, or who are eating more raw foods may suddenly find their food bland and unappealing, since their palates have grown accustomed to lower-quality food with artificial additives.

Sometimes our taste buds just need time to adapt to our new diet. But - let's face it - sometimes healthy diets just don't taste good! (Scientists believe this is in part due to evolutionary adaptations that tell us to eat more fats. While that may have been helpful hundreds, thousands, and millions of years ago, it really doesn't serve us well in the days of fast foods, supermarkets, and processed desserts!)

Whether your diet is "standard," low-fat, no-fat, no-salt, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or raw, there's no reason why the food can't be delicious! Whatever your diet, there are simple, effective, and healthy ways to add more flavor to your food!

A few choice spices are a convenient way to add flavor to food
A few choice spices are a convenient way to add flavor to food | Source

Spices

Your spice rack is a great starting place to make your food more flavorful.

My favorites for delicious, strong flavors include basil, chili, cinnamon, cumin, curry, dill, and garam masala.

Click here for an excellent guide to spices.

One great trick is to sprinkle dried basil and oregano onto salads to make the flavors pop!

Fresh herbs add a bit of nutrition along with flavor
Fresh herbs add a bit of nutrition along with flavor | Source

Fresh Herbs

There's nothing like fresh herbs to add flavor to food! They can make the dish just come alive, bursting with deliciousness!

Herbs can be used in just about anything, including salads, wraps, sandwiches, sauces, dips, stir-fries, and soups. Individual herbs infuse specific characteristics to the flavor of dishes.

Some popular herbs include basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, and parsley. (I usually get the "curly" parsley so I can easily distinguish it from cilantro, which looks a lot like "flat" parsley.)

Click here for a great guide to herbs!

You can grow your own herbs, indoors or outdoors, so they can always be available.

Freeze your herbs! If you purchase herbs at the supermarket, it's likely that you'll have quite a bit left over. Here's what I do to freeze herbs for later use in soups, stews, or stir-fries: Chop up the bunch of herbs. Place them in ice trays. Add just enough water to hold them together as "ice cubes." Freeze. Remove and place in a LABELED freezer-strength zip bag. This system works very well!

Ziploc Quart Freezer Bags - 54-Count
Ziploc Quart Freezer Bags - 54-Count

Store "herb ice cubes" in the freezer! Double-bag, if necessary. Thawed herbs don't work for things like fresh salads, but they're perfect for soups, stews, and sauces.

 
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Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice

In addition to making food dishes more lively, fresh lemon or lime wedges can be added to water to give it flavor.

For those whose diets require drinking a lot of water, this can make a huge difference if plain water tastes too "plain." This is a much healthier and cost-effective method than adding flavored powders, which almost always have sugar, carcinogenic sweeteners, and/or artificial colors.

Bottled lemon or lime juice will do in a pinch. But for better flavor, fresh juice is the way to go!

You can also grate a bit of lemon, lime, or orange zest (just below the peel's surface) onto foods or use in recipes.

Fresh ginger
Fresh ginger | Source

Ginger

Ginger can be spicy if you use a lot, with a gentler "zing" if used more sparingly.

For fresh ginger, cut away the "bark" of outer skin, then thinly slice or grate the rather tough inside. Most recipes that have ginger as an ingredient call for using an inch of ginger.

Ginger has the added benefit of being good for upset stomachs and nasal congestion.

Garlic bulb containing a number of individual cloves
Garlic bulb containing a number of individual cloves | Source

Garlic

Garlic is magnificent! Chop it up and add to just about any cooked dish.

Peel the outer layer of garlic to access the cloves. Remove the "paper" skin, then chop.

Prepared garlic in a jar can be stored in the refrigerator for convenient use. But check the label carefully to make sure the prepared garlic suits your dietary needs, since it may be packed in oil.

Of course, garlic powder may also be used. If you're like me, you enjoy dishes with garlic as an ingredient and garlic powder sprinkled on at the table!

Onions can be fried first to mellow and deepen the flavor, or added raw to spice things up!
Onions can be fried first to mellow and deepen the flavor, or added raw to spice things up! | Source

Onions

Onions add lots of flavor to food!

Red onions are better raw, used on sandwiches or in salads.

Onions fried in olive oil are out of this world!

But if you're avoiding fats and oils, you can fry onions in just a bit of water. This technique adds lots of flavor without any of the fat!

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Roast Your Vegetables

Roasting vegetables brings out an earthy, sweet flavor. Simply place them in the oven at about 450F until they're nice and tender.

Depending on your dietary needs, you can roast veggies drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with spices, or just in a bit of water. There are lots of different marinade options for various tastes and health requirements.

Condiments

There are many condiments that can be used to add flavor to meals. Here are just a few.

  • Salsa: Can be mild or spicy; it is usually fat-free.
  • Chutney: Indian condiment that can be mild or spicy and comes in many different varieties.
  • Horseradish: Spicy!
  • Relish and Pickles: Good for picnic foods. Check the label to make sure it suits any dietary restrictions you may have.

Alternatives to Salt

Need something to shake on at the table to add more flavor to your food?

Spike Gourmet Natural Seasoning, Salt Free, 1.9 Ounce (Pack of 6)
Spike Gourmet Natural Seasoning, Salt Free, 1.9 Ounce (Pack of 6)

I LOVE Spike! It's a seasoning mix that is a great alternative to salt. There are several different varieties. I get the one without salt.

 

Salad Dressing

Whether you're vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, no-fat, or avoiding artificial ingredients, it's important to have a go-to salad dressing for use on salads or as a veggie dip. Depending on the flavor and texture, it can also be used as a sandwich spread or sauce for grains.

Here are several websites with recipes for salad dressings. Adapt them as necessary to suit your particular dietary needs.

How do you add flavor to food? - Your comments are welcome

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I love Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning and use it a lot, plus other seasonings and herbs and the occasional splash of lemon juice or hot sauce! Good compilation here to make the taste buds sing!

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Some interesting flavors. I never hear of Braggs seasoning before I will have to try it. Nice lens.

    • Valerie Bloom profile image
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      Valerie Bloom 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @choosehappy: Oh -- good one! I'm all about Bragg's! It's a bit like soy sauce, but much less sodium.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Good ideas ;) One of my favorite things is using Bragg's seasonings....it's amazing! You can use it on just about anything.

    • Valerie Bloom profile image
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      Valerie Bloom 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @Jogalog: Delicious!

    • Valerie Bloom profile image
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      Valerie Bloom 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @MissMalaprop: Yum! I'll have to check out sriracha sauce -- I've never heard of it before!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I love using fresh herbs and lemon juice to add flavour. There's nothing worse than a boring salad and almost nothing better than a really good dressing to transform it.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I've found that the lazy way works pretty well for me these days. Steamed vegetables taste fantastic without any seasoning. That way I can spend more time painting.

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      I'm a big fan of cilantro, cumin, oregano and garlic. I'm kind of obsessed with sriracha sauce lately too though.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      I love your flavours and colours!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      The Vietnamese love to add fish sauce. I add just a tiny bit to greens and it changes the flavour.

    • profile image

      webmavern 4 years ago

      We experiment with different types of salad dressings which are mainly olive oil based. Thanks for some different ideas.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      My favorites are ginger and of course good old lemon. One or the other will flavor up something lol.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      Mrs Dash is a great store cupboard standard, but I hope to get out into the garden this weekend and get some fresh herbs growing for the summer.

    • Valerie Bloom profile image
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      Valerie Bloom 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @SteveKaye: Good idea!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Another tip: Add a splash of rice vinegar to foods. It adds a twinkle of flavor. Yum.