Is it possible to love food so much?? There really is no better feeling than coming home hungry from the gym or work and having, what feels like, a gourmet meal. A common misconception about healthy food is that it cannot be rich with flavour – how wrong was this person who has made us all lie to ourselves! Whether you’re paleo, vegetarian/vegan, or just a person looking to eat more nutrient rich foods, there are some small steps you can do to amp up those meals both nutritionally and flavourfully to make your taste buds dance.
1. Eat the rainbow
Eating the rainbow means incorporating colorful foods in your meals! Color will make your meals look more appetizing and will add great flavour and variety! You can never get bored with fruits and vegetables because there are so many to choose from! Incorporate as many colors each day as you can because each color contains unique and vital nutrients. If you’re still picky about veggies, try cooking them in different manners or incorporating them into dishes such as a healthy fried rice, casseroles, stews, soups, etc.
Orange/Yellow – carrots, yellow bell peppers, squash/pumpkin, sweet potato, lemons, bananas, oranges
They contain beta-carotene, which is a precursor for vitamin A, which is essential for vision, growth and development, and immune function, and vitamin C which is an antioxidant, essential for immunity, and collagen formation. Vitamin C is also used to reduce the appearance of scars
Green – leafy veg (collards, dandellion, arugula, kale, etc), cruciferous veg (cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli), sprouts (pea, alfalfa, sunflower, etc), avocado, green apples
These foods are essential to eat every day because they are extremly rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and they keep your digestive tract smiling! Most greens are bitters, which help with digestion; they contain fibre which keeps you full, encourages effective bowel activity, and ensures a healthy, happy gut; they alkalize the body when it is highly acidic and therefore highly toxic. Acidity can result from constipation, a highly acidic diet (junk food/processed foods, low fibre content, fried, etc), stress, medication, and many other reasons.
Blue/Purple – red cabbage, eggplant, olives, blueberries, blackberries, currants, grapes, figs, plums
These guys are high in anthocyanins, a compound which acts as an astringent, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
Red – beets, tomato, radicchio, cranberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, watermelon
Red foods contain a compound called lycopene, which is an antioxidant said to be protective against cancer as well as lower cholesterol. Lycopene is more bioavailable when cooked, so eating stewed tomatos is a great way to include this fancy-named compound in your diet. I recall hearing about a study that looked at men who ate pizza versus those who did not, and those who ate pizza had a lower prevalence for prostate cancer. Now – I’m not saying go eat pizza to save your prostate, I’m sure there are healthier ways to do that! The red fruits also contain anthocyanins.
2. Use condiments
I’ve become so picky with food lately, and the only thing that keeps me interested in lately is good condiments. However, not all condiments are the same. If you read the ingredients, you’ll find most companies add sugar, a lot of salt, and maybe even other nasties in there which we want to avoid. Flavor God (www.flavorgod.com) is a guy I’ve stumbled upon on Instagram and I love his philosophy! He hand packages all of his products, and they are:
– gluten free
– low sodium
– no MSG
– no GMO
– made fresh daily
– 100% pure herbs/spices
I highly suggest checking out his products. Shipping is free within the USA and an addtional $17 elsewhere, but it’s a great investment if it means you’re getting high quality products. (BTW he’s not sponsoring me, I was just so impressed with his products I had to share!)
Besides flavour god, you can make your own dry/wet rubs for meats (chimichurri anyone?) or find something simple and stick with it. Here are my favorite go-tos for flavour:
EVOO + big squeeze of lemon + salt – amazing on salads or on steamed veggies. The more lemon the better! Feel free to add parmesan or feta cheese if it’s part of your diet – it makes it so delish!)
“Honey” mustard salad dressing: 1 tsp EVOO + 1 tbsp dijon mustard + 1 packet stevia + salt + squeeze of lemon (sometimes I add powdered garlic to make it a honey garlic dressing – this is great because it is highly flavourful but low carb)
3. Play with texture
I know people are pretty picky with textures, especially mushy or slimy ones, however adding texture to food makes it fun! Imagine eating a bowl of steamed broccoli (with my EVOO/lemon dressing). Now, imagine adding some toasted pumpkin seeds, the kind that pop when you bite into them, or even chia seeds. Texture introduces variety into a dish and offers a new experience with each bite.
Add toasted seeds and nuts to dishes for crunch and pop
Add berries to salads for that surprise of juicy sweetness
Add an over-soft egg over your baked chicken for that creamy yolky goodness
Bake muffins and cookies with cacao nibs and nuts for crunch
The possibilities are endless, and there is much room for you to explore and find what you like the most!
4. Combine savoury and sweet
Food combination is pretty important, and I will do a post explaining how to combine foods and eat them in the right order for optimal digestion. This aside, I think mixing savoury and sweet is so much fun and can, again, offer variety and keep those taste buds happy!
Make a homemade banana and peanut butter ice cream and add coarse sea salt on top
Add berries, fresh and/or dried fruit to salads
Eat your favorite fish alongside a mango chutney
Don’t be afraid to play with your food (sorry mom), you never know what you might discover!