Ways to Add Flavor to Healthy Foods
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Fresh and dried spices are the easiest way to boost flavor. You probably have some containers in your kitchen already.
- 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
Spices To Try
basil, mustard, thyme
rosemary, pepper, cinnamon
dill, parsley, chives
cloves, allspice, ginger
tumerick, lemongrass, mint
saffron, curry, sage
Tasty Ideas To Try From Amazon
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.
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.
Light Bechamel Sauce
Less fat but still creamy, this sauce adds richness to any food you pair it with.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Use right away on pasta, veggies, chicken or fish. Store unused portion covered with wax paper in the fridge for up to 5 days.