Updated: Jul 8
Most of us enjoy eating. We have a list of favorites and are fond of sampling new dishes and foods that we can add to our list. Suddenly advice from the doctor to make lifestyle and daily diet changes can be jarring. The meal routines that we have on auto pilot now need to stop. I hear all types of excuses from my clients when they are faced with this challenge. “But I can’t,” “it is not the same”, “it doesn’t taste good.” I totally get it, change is challenging. However, you can continue to savor eating experiences by learning new ways to bring flavor to the table as you make changes for better health.
The taste of food is a multisensory experience—it involves how it looks, smells and sounds as well as the stimulus it creates when it hits the taste buds on the tongue. In changing habits to reduce the salt, sugar and fat in foods, consider the following suggestions.
Swap condiments that you can make for store-bought barbecue sauce and salad dressings: This will help you reduce calories, sugar and salt. It will also help save money too—you can make salad dressings and barbecue sauce for a fraction of the cost of the ready-to-use items. Using freshly made condiments with lean meats such as lean pork will help increase the flavor without a lot of fat. Pork cuts such as tenderloin or loin chops are lower fat options; loin in the name is the hint that the pork is lower in fat. When cooking with lean meat and poultry, browning the meat first in a hot pan before completely cooking over lower heat or in the oven will increase the flavor and aroma.
Use Garlic, Herbs & Spices: Garlic, herbs and spices can alter or intensify the flavor of food —this can be very beneficial when you reduce the salt and fat in dishes you’re cooking. Slow cooking or oven roasting garlic will produce a sweeter, mellow flavor in your dish. If quick-cooking or sautéing garlic in a stir-fry it will have a fresh, sharper flavor.
In using dried herbs and spices, make sure they are not beyond the recommended shelf-life. Often the best use by date will be on the bottle or jar. If you can, try to buy herbs and spices in smaller quantities or by the ounce, so that you’ll use them before they are too old and lose their potency.
Lemons Are Not Just for Lemonade: Adding a squeeze of lemon or grated zest can be your kitchen secret, to boost the taste of food by adding brightness to sweet or savory foods. It is very similar to salt but is so much better for you. Lemon juice can magically turn pan juices from seared meats into a special sauce, and add an extra special background note to seafood, vegetables and rice.
As you’re preparing to eat or set the table, make sure the area is clear, perhaps use a placemat or attractive tray. Consider adding music and a plant or flowers for a pretty table. These suggestions will help feed your other senses and make your meals more appetizing.
Take Away: Flavor involves all of the senses—set a table to make your food look good, smell good and it will taste good, as you choose new ways to season what is on your menu.
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