Friday, January 3, 2014

Food Friday: Four ways to make healthy food taste amazing

Happy New Year!!  Pretty much everyone that makes resolutions this year will have something about healthy eating or healthy living.  I feel like changing my diet is way more important than working out.  Working out is important for sure, but eating badly and working out a lot, like my sister said "[is like saying you can] put vegetable oil in [your] car and then drive it around a lot." Working out is going to do a lot more for you if you're putting good food in first.  

I know mac and cheese is super yummy and I love BBQ ribs too, but I try to eat healthy most of the time so that I can enjoy the times when I don't.  But I still want to enjoy the times when I do eat healthy!  In fact, when it comes to dinner, I need to enjoy all the food I eat.  For breakfast I can choke down something healthy that I don't love, but not at dinner.  So here are four things I do to make healthy food taste so good.

1. Browning.  Browning adds so much good flavor to foods.  Have you ever roasted carrots?  I don't love raw carrots, but roasted?  I cannot get enough of them.  I also have a favorite chicken picatta recipe and so I was excited when I found a similar vegetarian recipe.  It was awful!  But then I realized I hadn't browned any of the veggies.  If I try it again, I'm definitely going to do that first.  If you're browning something in a frying pan use a small amount of olive oil or vegetable spray.  If you have a high quality pan (or even a medium quality pan like I do) don't worry about food sticking.  Just worry about getting your vegetables or lean meats nice and crusty. Later you can add liquid to remove all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and it will just intensify the flavor. 

2. Vinegar or citrus juice.  Both vinegar and citrus juices (think lemon or lime) are fat free and practically calorie free and bump up the taste.  Whole wheat bread dipped in vinegar and Italian seasoning is so much better than bread and butter (and I don't feel bad about adding a little bit of olive oil)  Beans (like black beans or navy beans) with veggies and vinegar or lemon juice make a delicious salad.

3. Salt.  So often if you think something is missing in your food, you've under salted.  I know salt is bad when used too much, but it is okay and even good when you use a little.  In culinary class I was taught to season as you go, or salt foods at each step.  Generally that works okay unless you're going to add soy sauce or something at a later step.  But a little bit of well placed salt can bring out the best flavors. 

4. Use strong flavored foods and you can use less of them.  When I think of my favorite foods they're always very strong flavors.  Olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, capers, Parmesan, etc.  I love that a few olives chopped up add a lot of flavor with out a lot of fat.  Same goes for feta and parm cheeses.  Capers and sun dried tomatoes aren't bad for you, but adding just a little really boosts flavor (using too much could overwhelm the dish, so use caution even though they're still good for you!)

What do you do to make healthy food taste good?  Don't you just love how good you feel when you know you've been putting good food into your body!?!


  1. I agree with you on browning foods! I use salt in cooking, but I try not to use it to 'season' my food... like, I used to put it on mashed potatoes or eggs. If I must, I try to do a little bit... it is amazing how much salt some people dump on their food, tho! I kind of wonder if they even have taste buds! LOL! The vinegar and italian seasoning is a great idea to dip bread in, my husband makes bread a lot and I should remember that!

    1. I know I probably use too much salt sometimes, but I once made the most bland completely salt free lasagna for my uncle who just had a heart attack. We could barely eat it! Just a tiny bit of salt would have made it sooooo much better. But so important not to go over the top, you're right.

  2. goodness, this makes me want to do some serious healthy cooking right now! :) thanks for sharing.

    1. I love that feeling!! And you're welcome :)

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