We’re nearing the end of week 2 in the new year. Are you still on track with your healthy eating goals or are you starting to fall back to the dark side because you feel like you’re eating tasteless food? Don’t give up yet, you can still eat healthier and fresh foods that taste good! Check out these 10 healthy seasonings to make healthier foods taste good.
10 Healthy Seasonings to Make Healthier Foods Taste Good
1. Herbs – There are so many delicious herbs out there to add to your food. Two of my favorites are basil and oregano, which go great with tomatoes and a variety of meats like chicken and pork. There are different types of most herbs, like Mexican oregano and lemon basil, all of which have slightly different flavors so you have plenty of ways to change things up. Two important notes about herbs – dry herbs are more potent than fresh herbs, so use less of them in a recipe and herbs can get bitter when cooked for too long, so add them in at the end for the best flavor.
2. Citrus/Fruit – The only time you may be used to using citrus is with lemon pepper or a squeeze over your seafood, but it is a great flavor enhancer overall. Add some freshness to chicken with lemon or try lime in Mexican beef dishes. Apples go great with pork, berries with fowl like duck, pears with cheese, and dried fruits in salads.
3. Salts – You may be surprised to see salt on this list, after all, it seems like we have had the mantra of salt being evil shoved down our throats for years. However, it seems more and more news as of late is saying it isn’t all that bad for those without heart-related and other conditions (as always, talk to your doctor first), so I say bring on the salt. There are many different flavors and types of salt out there from the plain table salt. Sea salt has become my every day salt of choice, while I love seasoned salt on eggs. Kosher salt is great to use on meats to really bring out their flavor and create a nice crust when roasting.
4. Pepper – There are all sorts of peppers that can be used in seasoning, but in this case I’m talking about regular old black and white peppercorns. Whether you use the black powder or grind it on before serving, pepper is a great way to spice things up and add a little kick without being too “hot spicy”. Just remember, a little goes a long way and you can always add more but you can’t take it out. I put pepper on meats, veggies and even things like sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
5. Flavored Oils and Vinegars – Okay, so you don’t want to overdo the oils obviously, but there are several flavored varieties (garlic, herb-infused, and sesame just to name a few) where a little goes a long way. There are also flavored vinegars – rice vinegar being one of my favorites, such as garlic, red pepper, raspberry, etc. I love using these in salad dressings for different flavors instead of resorting back to ranch for something different.
6. Garlic – You knew it had to be on here at some point, right? Garlic is one of my favorite seasonings and I always have some fresh on hand. It’s great with meats and veggies and to help make more flavorful broth-based sauces and soups. Just be sure to not overcook or burn garlic or it will turn bitter and ruin your whole dish. As for garlic breath? I say 2 cancel each other out.
7. Onion/Shallots – I also couldn’t leave these out as they are the perfect partner to garlic and depending on the onion, it can provide a nice bite. I almost always use garlic and onion when sauteing proteins like chicken and pork and they are great to help flavor up veggies and greens like green beans and spinach. You can also grate (or used dried) for dressings and soups. I always thought hard boiled eggs were bland until I started putting some dried onion and garlic on them!
8. Ground Spices – Just as with herbs, there are tons of ground spices you can use to kick up healthy food a notch. One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to try out new flavor combos which usually involves ground spices. I love adding tons of cinnamon to my steel-cut oatmeal (Did you know that I refused to even eat oatmeal until I finally tried steel-cut?) and applesauce. Cayenne is a frequent user in many proteins and light sauces in our home for a kick. I also like getting spice blends at places like Penzey’s which takes out all the guess work.
9. Hot Sauce and Peppers – Do you like it spicy? We sure do and it’s a great way to make almost anything taste better! I don’t like to only taste hot spice in dishes, but with just a drizzle of hot sauce, a sprinkle of cayenne or chipotle, or a few slices of jalapenos, egg breakfasts, salsa chicken, sauces and even salads are reinvented.
10. Cooking Method – Cooking is technically a form of seasoning, right? If you think to eat healthy all you can do is poach things, think again! My favorites are sauteing and roasting. Thanks to the abundance of non-stick cookware, very little, if any fats and oils are needed for cooking. I often sear up chicken without using any oil thanks to my non-stick and well-seasoned cast iron pans! Browned foods just look and taste better, don’t they? If you do use fats and oils, make sure they are natural like olive oil, butter, coconut oil or maybe even some bacon fat. The key, in my opinion, is to think of these things as seasonings and not something you need to drown your food in.