ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ways to Add Flavor to Healthy Foods

Updated on September 19, 2012
Healthy dishes should also taste delicious too!
Healthy dishes should also taste delicious too! | Source

With so many more food options at your local grocery store, it's easier than ever now to cook healthy. And once you've gathered all your nutritious ingredients together, it's time to look at how you can create a delectable dish out of them!

To make a meal exciting, you need to bring out the natural flavor of the food, then add a little boost to it. Since I've been learning healthier ways of cooking, I've come across a few different ways to accomplish that goal.

Wine

You don't have to spend a lot to gain extra flavor using wine. A modestly-priced bottle (as low as $5) can provide enjoyment both in the dish and your glass.

Tips:

  • Cook with a wine that you already enjoy drinking.
  • Bottled cooking wine from the grocery store contains a higher sodium level than drinking wine. When I tried using it, I thought the salt taste interfered with the main ingredients.
  • General guidelines - white wine goes well with chicken, fish or salad while red works in heavier or spicier dishes - will help you get started. Then, experiment with different combinations of food and wine that sound good to you.

Explore using a variety of wines in your cooking.
Explore using a variety of wines in your cooking. | Source

Most red wines have a heartiness that seems to go well with beef and pork meals. Burgundy is one of the essential ingredients in my Beef Burgundy recipe. But red wine can be part of a lighter meal, too. I've used Cabornay to form the base of risotto, and a touch of Merlot in tomato sauce.

White wine tends to add brightness to a dish. One of my favorite ways to prepare shrimp is to saute them with canola oil, chopped garlic, lemon juice and a splash of Chardonnay.

Spices and herbs will bring a new element to your  dishes.
Spices and herbs will bring a new element to your dishes. | Source

Spices

Fresh and dried spices are the easiest way to boost flavor. You probably have some containers in your kitchen already.

Tips:

  • Check your spice container labels periodically to keep them up-to-date. (You can also tell by the aroma and flavor strength.) Herbs and ground spices last up to 3 years while whole spices can last up to 4.
  • Don't use more than two or three spices with any one main ingredient - too many different flavors will overpower rather than enhance the taste.
  • Dried seasonings need time to release their flavor, so add them into the dish before or right after starting the cooking process.

Food & Spice Combinations

Food
Spices To Try
Chicken
basil, mustard, thyme
Pork
rosemary, pepper, cinnamon
Fish
dill, parsley, chives
Fruit
cloves, allspice, ginger
Vegetables
tumerick, lemongrass, mint
Rice
saffron, curry, sage
 Creating a simple marinade can make all the difference in your meal!
Creating a simple marinade can make all the difference in your meal! | Source

Other Ideas

Marinades

I've had great success with certain foods by just letting them soak in a marinade before cooking. And I've found the best marinades are simple to make and low in calories.

- For fajitas and burritos, I drizzle chicken strips with olive oil, oregano, crushed garlic, cumin and lime juice, and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

- For grilling, I put fish in with flaxseed oil, balsamic vinegar. lemon juice and dill.

(Note: Fish shouldn't sit in marinade for more than an hour - it will start to break down and won't cook well.)

- For veggies I add canola oil, cider vinegar, basil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper and sugar.

Sauces

A good sauce can tie a meal together without adding a lot of extra calories or fat. I have a couple of go-to favorites that can be made with things that are probably already in your kitchen, so they're fast and easy.

- To make pesto I only need walnuts, olive oil, garlic, basil, and a blender or food processor.

- My marinara sauce just calls for canned tomatoes, onions, a pinch of sugar and dab of butter.

Steamed broccoli with bechamel sauce
Steamed broccoli with bechamel sauce | Source

Rate This!

Cast your vote for Light Bechamel Sauce

Light Bechamel Sauce

Less fat but still creamy, this sauce adds richness to any food you pair it with.

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 min
Cook time: 8 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: About 1 cup of sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp margarine or vegetable spread
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Set a pan on to medium heat. Melt the butter in a pan then add the flour, stirring to combine them into a smooth mixture. Whisk in the milk, continuing to stir to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it bubble for a minute until it thickens. Take the sauce off the heat. Add the cheese if desired.
  3. Use right away on pasta, veggies, chicken or fish. Store unused portion covered with wax paper in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Heather63 profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather Adams 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thanks for saying that! I didn't used to pay attention to these things, and always wondered why my food came out tasting either bland or salty. I've come to really enjoy foods more in their "original" form - they taste lighter and better to me now.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      You have some lovely ideas here for healthier cooking and in particular I like your use of wines. I agree also that you don't have to buy the most expensive wines to get a good taste - there are some excellent, low cost wines that taste lovely! It's also so refreshing to read an article advocating enhancing food's own natural flavours rather than covering up with too much sauces etc.

    • Heather63 profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather Adams 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      That makes me want to whip something up right now!!

    • bwhite062007 profile image

      Brianna W 

      5 years ago from East Coast

      Marsala is great...especially when making chicken Marsala. I too like a good chardonnay in cooking. A good red wine I use in beef or red sauce pasta dishes.

    • Heather63 profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather Adams 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Hey bwhite! Do you have a favorite wine to use? I think I like Chardonnay best, and use it the most. But I'd like to branch out and try some I don't normally have, like Marsala or Reisling. Thanks for reading!

    • Heather63 profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather Adams 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Hi, jbrock - thanks for checking the hub out! I think this was one of the biggest challenges for me as I changed to a healthier diet - for a while my food was a little on the bland side. I've definitely gotten more adventurous. Good luck, and have fun!

    • bwhite062007 profile image

      Brianna W 

      5 years ago from East Coast

      Great ideas for healthier cooking. I too am always looking for way to make dishes more healthy. I do love to add wine to some dishes as it brings out some unique flavors!

    • jbrock2041 profile image

      jbrock2041 

      5 years ago from Park City, UT

      This is a great topic. I'm always looking at ways to add flavor to healthy foods. I love your food and spices combination chart

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)