Nutrition Month (part 2): Give Your Food a Taste Lift

Registered Dietician, Laura

Registered Dietician, Laura

Laura, our registered dietician, is back! If you missed part 1 of her Nutrition Month® series, check it out here: Add Some Flavor to Your Life. Laura, take it away!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland or boring. To add some flavor, start experimenting with fresh or dried herbs. If you have old herbs in the cupboard and they don’t have a strong smell anymore, toss them out, it’s time to replace them. When following a recipe, follow this conversion:

¼ teaspoon powder = ¾ teaspoon dried = 2 teaspoons fresh

When using fresh herbs, chop finely to get more surface area with the herb flavor into your recipe.

A few versatile flavor options to keep around:

  1. Basil: enhances Italian foods (good with tomatoes, pasta, chicken, fish, and shellfish).
  2. Bay leaf or chili powder: adds flavor to beans, stews, and soups.
  3. Cilantro and cumin: wonderful in Mexican and Latin American Cuisine, rice, beans, fish, shellfish, poultry, vegetables, salsas, and salads.
  4. Paprika: adds a nice flavor to Spanish dishes, potatoes, soups, stews, baked fish, and salad dressings.
  5. Smoke flavor: believe it or not, it can be a bacon substitute. Often when we add bacon to a recipe, it’s the smoke flavor we are enjoying. You can cut back on the amount of bacon and add a drop or two of natural smoke flavor. Also try smoked paprika.
  6. Lemon and lime. There are so many uses for both the juice and the rind. You can zest the rinds and used in baked goods, sauces, and to season meat.

One of my favorite recipes is a basil bowl salad! Use fresh basil, lemon juice and calcium packed greek yogurt to make this delicious dressing.

Basil Bowl_lemon dressing

Basil Bowl_lemon dressing2

Makes about 20 tablespoons

  • Serving size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

Nutrition Month (Part 1): Add Some Flavor to Your Life

Laura 04 2111

Registered Dietician, Laura

March is National Nutrition Month®, and this year it carries the theme “enjoy the taste of eating right”. Although it’s sort of obvious, researchers asked people why they chose one food over another. The response? Taste (surprise!). So in honor of National Nutrition Month®, during each week in March, our registered dietitian, Laura, is going to post some ideas for adding flavor to your life without adding a lot of fat, sugar and salt.Laura, take it away!

As a registered dietitian, I look at a lot of food journals. Many of the food journals I see are devoid of vegetables. Vegetables add flavor, variety, color and texture to meals. They’re also loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, with a small calorie price tag.

So why don’t we eat more vegetables? Here’s my theory:  

1) They require more work than ripping apart a package of Doritos.

2) We don’t know what the heck to do with them.

3) We eat and drink so much sugary or salty foods our taste buds are traumatized — they have lost some ability to enjoy the more subtle flavors of vegetables.

What can you do? Try different food combinations to increase flavor.

  • Most of the veggies from the cruciferous family (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage) have a bitter taste that some people dislike. But the health benefits are amazing! Try complementing these veggies with a sweet counterpart, such as jicama, or caramelized onions, carrots, or sweet potatoes.
  • Adding a sweet and tangy combo like balsamic vinaigrette with a small amount of a sharp cheese, such as feta, adds layers of flavor over a large bowl of greens and mixed vegetables. You can drizzle with a balsamic glaze as well. (See our recipe below.)

Balsamic Glaze

Introducing the One Week $40 Healthy Eating Challenge

1 Week_40_Healthy Eating ChallengeThere’s a common myth that states, “In order to eat a healthy diet, you need to spend big.” We wanted to put this myth to the test, so we reached out to our old friend Kim the Intern and asked her to be our guinea pig. Kim agreed to take the One Week $40 Healthy Eating Challenge and blog about her tales.

Here’s how it worked: For one week, Kim was only allowed to spend $40 on food. We chose $40 because that’s about $10 less than the national average weekly grocery budget for a single person. Kim’s a brave soul, so we wanted to challenge her! Kim’s shopping list was up to her, but everything she ate had to be widely considered to be “healthy food.” She could eat out during this week, but if she did, it had to come out of her $40 budget, and the dish had to meet the same healthy criteria.

In her own words, here’s the result of Kim’s adventure: 

With only $40 to spend, I had to do some research. So, I scoured my old friend Pinterest for some new recipes and put together a list of things I could use for several meals.

With just $40 I bought:

This is basically what my veggie drawer looked like.

This is basically what my veggie drawer looked like.

  • A box of whole wheat noodles
  • A small spaghetti squash
  • 2 medium-sized zucchinis
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 chunk of low-fat mozzarella cheese 
  • 1 box of 6 eggs
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 potato
  • 1 bunch green beans
  • 1 bag of coffee
  • 1 small chunk of salmon
  • 1 loaf of whole wheat bread
  • 1 full head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 jug of V8 Juice
  • 2 Portobello Mushrooms
  • Tomato sauce – no sodium
  • I spent the rest on a variety of other fruits and veggies (my snacks)

I had originally thought I would save a little money that I could spend on stuff to supplement my meals during the week. But when I got to the register, I realized that I had hit my $40 limit! So what I had in my cart was what I had to work with. The challenge was on!

Keep in mind I was only cooking for one person, but this had to last me 7 full days. I tried a bunch of new recipes – all healthy – and to my surprise, I was able to eat well for the whole week. I thought I’d be starving, but it turns out, with planning I had more than enough food, and I even had leftovers on most days. For someone who isn’t able to spend a lot of time cooking, this was a huge feat for me.

This is what my week looked like in meals:

40DollarsMenu

The biggest challenge wasn’t staying within my budget, it was finding the time to prepare my meals. But with a little time and effort, it was totally doable. If you would like to look at some of the recipes I used, please visit the PacificSource recipe board on Pinterest! This was a great challenge, and if you’re even remotely interested, I would suggest trying it out. I ate healthy every day and for someone whose primary guilty pleasure is junk food, making it to Sunday sounded daunting. But I made it, I feel great and I have some new favorite recipes!