How To Make Healthy Food Taste Good

Jan 2, 2019 | Cooking Tips

It’s over guys. We did it. We made it through the holidays alive. Our wallets might be lighter and our belts might be bit tighter, but we did. Now, it is a new year with new goals, dreams, and resolutions.

It is very possible that you made a new years resolution this year. If you did, there a 45% chance that your resolution is to loose weight. Unfortunately, there is an 80% chance that your New Years Resolution will fail.

One of the reasons why New Years Resolutions fail, especially weight loss resolutions, is that they come as kind of a shock to the system. You start eating completely different than you’re used to. The food your making tastes like nothing because it is “Health Food”. The food you eat is boring.

Well, as usual I have your back. Today, we are going to talk about how you can have your cake and eat it too…okay not literally. We are actually going to talk about how you can eat healthy food without sacrificing flavour, variety, and enjoyment.

Without further ado, let’s kick off 2019 the right way and learn…


How To Make Healthy Food Taste Good

Before we get too deep into this, let me first say this. It has been my experience, and I have heard stories of this from other people as well, that simply reducing the portion sizes of what you are already eating can and will lead to weight loss.

Okay, now let’s talk about how to make healthy food taste good.

What is healthy food?

Healthy foods are whole foods. Like vegetables, fruits, a moderate amount of grains, fish and meat.

Unhealthy foods are anything containing large quantities of refined sugar, saturated fats, and salt. The key there is large quantities.

I should say, though it should be obvious that I am not a nutritionist. I am a Chef. I know how to make things taste good and I have a pretty good idea of foods that aren’t great for you.

Naturally Healthy Foods

When we think of healthy food we automatically think that it has to be bland. That might be because large multinational food conglomerates specializing in high sugar, high fat, and high salt processed foods pay billions of dollars in advertising annually to make us think that. Or, it could be because the processed “food” we eat from those conglomerates is so high in sugar, fat, and salt that it makes real food taste bland. Either way, my money is on it being those big companies fault.

Okay, so I went on a bit of a rant there but the facts remain the same. We associated healthy food with bland tasteless food. It really doesn’t have to be that way.

There are countries all around the world who’s cuisines have healthy dishes that taste amazing. Of course, they have their guilty pleasures too but look at Thai food, Indian Food, a lot of Japanese food, Mexican food, Brazilian, real Italian food. The list can go on and on.

You see, the problem isn’t with good food. The problem is really with processed food. So, how do we convince our palate that is used to the high fat, sugar, and salt, that food low in those tastes good?

Flavour

The key to good food of any kind is balance of flavour. That balance of flavour is what needs to be in mind when making healthy food. What I’m talking about is balance of acid, spices, beneficial fats, and sweet ingredients. Let’s break these down.

Acid

Acid can be vinegar, citrus, tomatoes, pineapple, etc. Too much acid can easily over power a dish. But, the right amount of acid can take a mediocre dish and make it really delicious.

Imagine for a moment that you are making a burrito bowl. You have some brown rice topped with chicken, vegetables, cilantro, whatever. If you put a big squeeze of lime over that it is going to make it exponentially better.

Acid wakes up the palate. It adds brightness to foods and cuts through richness. It can be used as simply as a squeeze of fresh lime, or it could be the addition of some tomato paste to a braised dish. Either way, using acid to make things taste good is a tried and true method.

What acids to use and how much really comes down to what you are making and personal preference. But, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. A squeeze of lemon or a few drops of vinegar can be enough to brighten up a whole pot of soup.

Like anything, taste, add, taste, add, taste add. You can only ever know how much acid you need to add by tasting and adding. It is not an exact science. It is subjective. And you have to learn how to taste your food. It is the only way that you make truly delicious food.

Spices

Spice may include chilies but that isn’t completely what I’m talking about here. I mean herbs and spices. Learning to properly use spices can help you make anything taste good.

Imagining a curry for example, it has been my experience that you almost always want to twice as much spices as you think you need too. I’m not talking about curry powder. Though it can be used as an ingredient.

When I say spices I mean cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric. Beyond curry I’m talking about cilantro root, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, the list can go on forever.

There are two main keys to using dry spices. The first is to use as much as you think you need to and then probably double it. So, if you think you should use 1 tbsp of cumin, use 2 tbsp.

The second key to using dry spices is to wake them up by sauteing them in oil. Let’s say that you are sauteing some ginger, garlic, and onion in a bit of oil. Once the onion is softened, add your spices and cook, stirring for a few minutes before adding any liquid. This will open the spices and intensify their flavours.

When it comes to herbs, add dry herbs early in the cooking process and fresh herbs later in the cooking process.

No matter what you are making, fresh herbs, and dried spices can help make it taste really, really good. Be bold and experiment with amounts. You will be surprised how much you can use and how great they can taste.

Sweet

Often when we think of sweet ingredients we automatically think unhealthy. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. Sweetness can come from things other than sugar.

Tomatoes are naturally sweet. Tomato paste, when cooked or over a moderate heat similar to how I described cooking dry spices, can add a deep intense sweetness to a dish.

Fresh tomatoes can add both acid and sweetness to salads, burrito or grain bowls. Fresh bell peppers, and other fresh vegetables can also add a nice pop of sweetness.

Depending on how they are cooked onions can be very sweet. Especially when caramelized or roasted.

Any vegetable takes on a delicious sweetness when roasted. Simply cut the vegetable into appropriate sizes, toss with olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper and roast in a 425°F oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

Don’t be afraid to use fruit like peaches, pineapples, and apples, to add sweetness either in a salsa, salad, used on their own or added to dishes.

Fats

All too often we hear about fat being bad for you. It’s not fat that is bad for you. You need fat. It is “bad fats” like the ones found in potato chips that you are being warned about.

But using olive oil, to make a salad dressing or to cook with isn’t going to hurt you. Eating meat with a bit of fat on it is good for your joints. Avocado is fatty but also good for you. Salmon is one of the most fatty fishes but again, it is very good for you.

Fats add richness to dishes and let’s be honest are just delicious. Turning your back completely on them isn’t going to do you any good. Moderation, and quality are the keys to fats.

Conclusion

Here’s the deal. If you want to really take off some weight and be healthier eat less of everything but especially carbs. Don’t cut them out completely, just reduce how many carbs you eat. Exercise regularly and eat in a balanced way.

It really isn’t that complicated. I’m not saying it’s not hard. God knows I could afford to take off a few pounds myself. So yes, it might be difficult, but it is not complicated.

Side note

Just as a bit of an aside here I wanted to say that I hope you all had a great holiday. I certainty did, except for a minor eye injury and a visit to the er on Christmas eve (a story for another time).

I am super excited to back in the swing of things and excited for the new year.

Thank you for helping to make my 2018 a great year. I’m really looking forward to what we will do together in 2019.

Happy New Year Everybody!

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