Hacks To Make Any Healthy Food Delicious
If one of your biggest joys in life is good food, then going on a diet—even if it’s not to lose weight, but to lower your blood pressure or bad cholesterol—can be a little frightening because you think, “Then what do I have to look forward to each day?” When rich, decadent food is your happy place, and a diet threatens to take that away, you probably won’t succeed on that diet unless you can find a way to enjoy it. Unfortunately, American society has mostly taught us that more butter, more fat, more salt and more sugar equals more flavor and those are the only things that do that. But that simply isn’t true. We just need a little help from professionals. Here are taste hacks, from professional chefs, that can help make any healthy food delicious.
Add lemon to boring or bitter vegetables
If you’re charring things like celery or chard, adding a little lemon juice cancels out the bitterness and brings out the hidden sweetness in these vegetables, making them scrumptious.
Add candied nuts to salad
Instead of using bread crumbs, tortilla strips or wonton pieces for crunch, add candied nuts to a salad. They add healthy fats and protein, without the empty calories.
Reduce and simmer everything
Everything is more flavorful when you reduce and simmer it. Most foods have a stronger flavor profile than we realize, but we don’t give them enough time to marinade and release their flavor before we eat them.
Miso, rice vinegar, mirin, and lemon
This combination, whipped together, comes out with a consistency of mayonnaise, but is actually very low in calories and doesn’t contain any egg or dairy. It’s delicious on burgers and with just about any protein.
Use tomato paste instead of ketchup
Tomato paste is healthier than ketchup in that it doesn’t contain the long ingredients list and high sugar content, Plus, it’s so concentrated that you only need a little to get plenty of flavor.
Add anchovy paste
Anchovy paste is like tomato paste in that a little goes a long way. You can add it to stews, crab cakes, meat loafs and even use it as a tapenade for a burst of flavor.
Use flavored olive oil
Flavored olive oil is a little-known secret among chefs. The additional ingredients—whether they be jalapeno or sundried tomatoes—have sat in the oil for a long time, so there’s no need to add any salt to get a huge taste blast from these products.
Use flavored vinegar
Fig vinegar, apple cider vinegar, peach vinegar—you name it, it’s out there, and it’s salad dressing all in its own right. The darker ones, like fig vinegar, taste delicious on pot roasts and the lighter ones, like peach, bring a lot of flavor to fish.
Use coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is a natural sugar, so it won’t mess with your body the way artificial sweetener does, but it’s naturally lighter than cane sugar, and a little goes a long way.
Use cashew cream for thickness
If you need to add thickness to mashed potatoes, creamy soup, or even a dairy-free creamy dessert, cashew cream is your ticket. It’s very thick, so you only need a tablespoon or two to make things like cream of broccoli extra thick.
The ingredients list on traditional fish sauce is just anchovies and salt, but it manages to pack a lot of flavor. Add it to rice, stir-fries, tofu, noodles and any Asian fusion.
Make a lighter pesto
Make pesto at home by crushing pine nuts, fresh basil, roasted garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper together. You can leave out the parmesean cheese, or just put in a tiny amount. It’s a delicious, light pasta sauce or spread for sandwiches.
Warm up to hot sauce
Hot sauce goes with more than just chicken wings. Add it to minestrone, chili, or really any soup to get a lot of flavor without adding tons of salt. If you put a little on fish or chicken, wrap that in foil and grill it, you’ll have all the flavor you need.
Add curry to your vegetables, pork, and chicken
Curry isn’t as intimidating as most people think it is. You should be seasoning your lighter proteins and vegetables with it because it is low in sodium and calories and packed with flavor.
Rub meat with oregano
Oregano can really heighten the flavor profile of meat. Make a rub with just oregano and olive oil, and smother it all over your next rump roast.
Put cumin on your popcorn
If you’re a popcorn addict but need to cut back on butter and salt, try adding cumin to your popcorn. It’s just as if not more delicious than salt.
Make ginger marinades
Mix freshly grated ginger with a little teriyaki sauce and have it with chicken or tofu. It’s zesty, sweet and rich and much healthier than things like barbecue sauce.
Sautée with vegetable broth
Sautée your vegetables in vegetable broth instead of oil. Not only is it much lighter, but vegetable broth is also cheaper than olive oil, so you can save your precious oil for your salad dressings.
Sautéed onions and garlic on everything
If your stomach can handle the sulfur in these foods, then you should always have them on hand. Some people would say onions and garlic are the only flavors you need in your kitchen.
Add instant coffee to smoothies
Adding just a tablespoon of instant coffee to a rather bland smoothie will give it a unique, sweet and salty flavor without adding tons of sugar or calories.
Sprinkle orange juice over fish
Orange juice brightens up the flavor of white fish and is much healthier than things like sweet and sour sauce or cream-based sauces.