When you think about healthy eating, phrases that often come to mind are: "eat locally," "eat your fruits and veggies," "go for the low-fat option," and "think real food," Did the idea of variety ever cross your mind, but you didn’t know how to fit it into your everyday meals?
Many of us want to try new foods, but end up with the same old mashed potatoes. March is National Nutrition Month, so it’s the perfect time to take the theme "Nutrition From the Ground Up," and put it into practice. Test your taste buds! You’ll be surprised what you like...
• Expanding your horizons in food is crucial to increase variety in your diet and keep you from becoming bored with your meals. Variety is important to help get all of the nutrients your body needs. A perfect example would be the difference between two common fruits, oranges and peaches. While they contain close to the same amount of potassium, the orange has about 5 times the amount of calcium and almost 7 times the amount of vitamin C. On the other hand the peaches contain almost twice the amount of vitamin A.
• Try new fruits, vegetables, and meats, even if they look a bit intimidating! For instance, how about diced kiwifruit to top some low-fat frozen yogurt? Or try asparagus spears brushed with a bit of olive oil and grilled or fresh fish cooked in a non-stick skillet with chunky salsa instead of frying. There are many online resources you can use to find new cooking ideas:
• Try substitutions: many familiar recipes can be changed in small ways to create a whole new dish. Adding spices and fresh herbs is a great way to enhance the flavor in new and different ways. Sage and fennel fronds are two to try. Sage can be easily used when baking chicken to add a new flavor and fennel fronds can be paired with salmon or other fish to add a light flavor that will mix things up.
• When cooking, try to use new methods like stewing or braising instead of traditional frying or sautéing to get a different flavor and texture. Stewing involves boiling slowly or simmering your food. Braising is usually used for less tender cuts of meat and vegetables, browning the food and then simmering with a small amount of liquid at a very low heat until it is tender.
These are a few of the many ways to expand your food horizons and test your taste buds. By trying new foods, you may be able to add healthy new favorites to your permanent grocery list.
Stephen Smith is a dietetic intern at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas who completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva Cochran in March.