Summer is nearly here and we can’t help but think of all the delicious foods that this season brings. Just imagine all the berries, watermelons, cantaloupes, apples, cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and all other fruits and vegetables that bring colour to our plates. These foods are not just great to look at, but they are also part of wholesome nutrition.
Perhaps the beginning of summer is the perfect opportunity to reconsider our dietary choices.
Can We Enjoy Healthy Food?
When we strive to eat healthily, we often stumble on the question “Can healthy food taste good?” Food is about nutrition, but it should also be about joy. Unpleasant, yet healthy dietary choices may work for a little while, as we try to reach certain weight goals. But ultimately, eating should not make us unhappy.
Food high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and additives are known to provide a momentary rush of happy chemicals. We accurately label these foods as “junk food”, yet we still eat them because they make us feel good for a short amount of time.
As it turns out, healthy food can have the same positive effect. Nutrients naturally promote the production of happy chemicals such as serotonin or dopamine, without damaging our health. Eating healthy not only brings us momentary joy, but it will actually elevate our general mood. It seems that in the long run, a wholesome diet can increase happiness. In fact, eating better for a longer period of time has a positive effect on both our physical and mental health.
When we think of healthy food, many of us think of mushy peas, tasteless broccoli crowns, or maybe bland salads that often leave us hungry still. But there is a whole world of flavours that we can experience.
Let’s take a look at some healthy eating hacks that will bring joy to our plates.
How To Make Healthy Food Taste Better
Consider the season.
To make sure your food has the freshest taste, try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Buying locally is even better. Apart from supporting local businesses, local ingredients that go from farm to table have a better chance of preserving their original flavour, making your food more delicious.
If you have your own garden, or you have the chance to go on farms and orchards where you can pick your own fruits and vegetables, stocking up for the rest of the year is not a bad idea. Frozen food preserves most of the original taste and nutrients. Some fruits, like berries, actually enhance their nutritional value when kept frozen.
Remember to season.
Speaking of seasons, we shouldn’t forget that seasoning is a crucial part of any cooking experience. Yet when it comes to healthy eating, seasoning is often omitted or done moderately. Let’s not forget that salt is love.
In the popular folk tale that stood as a basis for Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, a king asks his daughters to describe their love for him. The younger princess compares it to salt. At first, the king gets mad and banishes her from the palace, only to understand that food without salt is tasteless and bland. Thus, he finds that hers was the truest love.
Well, extrapolating, let’s replace “salt” with seasoning. There are many herbs and spices we can add to our food to give it a great flavour. As a bonus, each of them has health benefits that actually enhance the nutritional value of the meal.
Here are some examples to inspire you:
And if you want even more flavour, you can also add less conventional ingredients such as wine, lime, parmesan, yoghurt, or chocolate.
Texture is part of our food experience almost as much as taste. And if we don’t notice it when done right, we certainly do when it’s done wrong. Just imagine having runny mashed potatoes, instead of a creamy puree, or a slimy bowl of rice, instead of a delicious sticky rice dish. Some desserts like flan, Jell-O, or chia pudding are actually interesting because of their bad textures.
Don’t rule out the texture of the meals you cook, instead use it to make them more enjoyable. Some ingredients are great for adding flavour as well as creating an interesting healthy eating experience, try:
- Cauliflower puree
- Seeds (e.g. chia, flax, sesame, pumpkin, hemp, sunflower)
- Coconut milk
- Different types of rice
- Creamy balsamic vinegar
Be mindful of fatty food.
Fat can enrich the flavour of a dish and change its texture, giving it an utterly delicious taste. We all love a bit of fat in our food. But we also know that the wrong kind of fat in our system is bad for the health.
Eating healthy food doesn’t mean ruling out fat from our nutrition. We can be mindful of the fatty food we eat and make it a part of a wholesome diet. Here are some tips:
- Use animal fat and butter from organic, grass-fed sources.
- Cook with other healthy fats like avocado oil, olive oil, nuts, or fish oil.
- Reduce the consumption of trans fats by staying away from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine.
- Add the fat at the end of the cooking session, so it doesn’t cook for too long.
- Choose venison instead of beef, for a healthy alternative to red meat.
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
How we prepare the food also contributes greatly to its taste. For each ingredient, there is a way of cooking that will make it more delicious. Next time you start preparing your meal, consider the following:
- Marinate: Fish, chicken, or tofu taste better when marinated.
- Roast: Roasting vegetables will enhance their flavour much more than simply boiling them.
- Blend: Add fresh or frozen fruits into a blender and mix them together to create yummy smoothies.
- Soak: Place salads like lettuce, spinach, or kale in a bowl of ice water to make them crispier and revive any wilted leaves. This will also cut down on the bitterness that some of the leafy greens develop.
Dress up your plate and take your time to enjoy the food.
We all know the mouth-watering, Instagrammable pictures of good-looking dishes. According to research, it seems that making your plate look good can actually enhance the taste of the food. Especially when it comes to fruits and veggies, the more colour they have, the richer their nutritional value. So there’s nothing wrong with creating great-looking plates that challenge your creativity and your taste buds.
To find joy in your healthy food, dress up the dish to your liking and take time off your busy day to eat your meal properly. Find a quiet place where you can be mindful of the ingredients on your plate or sit together with your friends and share the experience.
Get What You Need While Eating Healthy Food
Food supplements are a great way of complementing your mindful eating. Choose the right supplements for your diet to increase the intake of vitamins and minerals.