Eating a nourishing, well-balanced diet is a key component to living a long, healthy life. But after a while it’s easy to get tired of eating the same lackluster salads for lunch or grilled chicken with steamed veggies for dinner. Soon enough, boredom could take over and those unhealthy, quick, convenience foods and drive-through-diet disasters start to look more and more appealing. Don’t get stuck in a bland food rut! Here are some tips and ideas to make your healthy meals and snacks more fun, flavourful and exciting.
1. Experiment with New, Exotic Spices and Fresh Herbs
Rather than repeatedly relying on the same familiar seasonings, expand your flavour horizon by purchasing a few new, less-common spices and herbs and giving them a try. Curry powder adds a lot of depth and flavour to roasted veggies, soups and stews. Herbs can be used in marinades, rubbed on meats and fish, added to soups and grilled or sautéed veggies, and used to flavour sauces. Star anise can be combined with cinnamon, grated ginger and chopped scallions to poach chicken. Toasted Nigella seeds (often used in Indian or South Asian dishes) work well with lentils or in stir fries and curries.
2. Try Tofu
Rather than meeting your protein needs through the usual fish, poultry, beef and pork options, choose tofu instead. Tofu itself doesn’t taste like much of anything, but it takes on the flavour of whatever ingredients you cook it with. Extra-firm and firm tofu work well in stir-fry dishes, casseroles and soups and in place of most meats and eggs. Soft and silken tofu can be used as a substitute for many dairy products.
3. Get Saucy
Venture outside of your comfort zone by taking a crack at a new sauce recipe, or rely on a more convenient route and purchase a new, unique bottled sauce to use on whole-wheat pasta, grilled chicken or fish, or to simmer your favourite seasonal veggies in.
4. Make your Own Salad Dressings and Marinades
You can jazz up your usual salads, veggie dishes and marinated meats by making your own dressings from scratch. In a mason jar or seal-top container, mix together two parts olive or canola oil and one part acid (vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice or mustard) along with your favourite herbs and spices and a little salt. Shake to combine and prepare to dazzle your taste buds.
5. Start Zesting
Adding the zest of lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruits to your grilled meats and fish, salad dressings, marinades, desserts, baked goods, smoothies and yogurt will really wake up their flavours and give those foods the extra zing you’re looking for. You’ll want to purchase a microplane for zesting (bonus: it also works well for grating hard cheeses like parmesan, and for grating roots like ginger).
6. Embrace Umami
Caramelised onions and sautéed mushrooms are delicious, nutrient-packed and versatile, and they impart an” umami” taste more typical of meats and cheeses but for far fewer calories.
7. Try Kebabs
Food just seems like more fun when it’s on a stick, right? To add a fun, flavourful, calorie-free twist on the usual kebabs, use a thick rosemary twig as the skewer. It’ll add a tremendous amount of taste but no calories.