Sometimes when we think about cooking and eating healthy, we think kale and carrots and bland, tasteless food. That is not at all the case—well, okay, yes, kale is super good for you and carrots are full of nutrients—but eating and cooking healthy doesn’t mean you will be eating boring, bland, or tasteless food.
Why Doesn’t Healthy Food Taste Great?
Eating and cooking healthy food can be a flavorful and enjoyable experience. The more healthy foods you eat, the longer you cook healthy, the better the foods taste. This is not because the quality of food changes, but because we break the sugar and fat habit.
Right now, if you have been eating the typical American restaurant and pre-packaged meal diet, you have trained your body to crave sugar, salt, and fats that it doesn’t need. A report from health.com states that fatty, salty, sugary food can be as addictive to our brain as cocaine. Scary thought.
So, you can expect that for a while, once you start cooking and eating healthier, your body will continue to crave those unhealthy options. Eventually, though, you will beat those addictions, and you will find that you begin to crave the ingredients and the nutrients of healthy but good food.
Adding Healthy Seasonings
When you first start cooking healthy foods, you might find that you have to add more seasonings, like garlic, onion, or ginger, to compensate for missing those fats and sugars. Adding extra ginger, garlic, and onion will not only increase the flavor of your foods but also make you healthier, as all of these flavor enhancers have health benefits.
Garlic works in your body to lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Some studies have found that regularly eating garlic can help you live longer and healthier, even reducing the effects of dementia. You can add as much garlic as you like since it is virtually free of calories.
Like garlic, ginger also contains natural immunity boosters that help lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. The spicy and flavorful root is also associated with improved digestion and helps fight nausea.
Another flavorful seasoning that contains medicinal properties, the onion has been accused of ridding people of cold and flu symptoms, reducing the bad cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar. Onions have been used medicinally for centuries, so it should come as no surprise that they are one of the healthiest flavor boosters. In fact, onions contain more nutrients per serving than most fruits.
Other Spices for Healthy but Tasty Food
While ginger, garlic, and onion add a lot of flavor and health benefits to your food, there are other spices and seasonings that will enhance the taste of your healthy cooking.
- Chili peppers
- Hot sauces
- Black pepper
- Fresh herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary
Increase Flavor without Adding Anything
Of course, there are ways to get healthy but tasty food without adding any seasonings. Here are some tips for getting the best flavor from your healthy foods.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables just taste better than their greenhouse grown counterparts.
- Buy frozen instead of canned fruits and vegetables. Canned vegetables lose some of the natural flavors of the produce.
- Roast or grill fresh vegetables to enhance their natural flavors.
- Sautee vegetables in a bit of olive oil, heating brings out the flavors.
- Try pairing sweet tastes with savory ones. Slice some sweet apples into a green salad, or add cranberries to your sautéed green beans.
Best Tasting Healthy Food
Here are a couple of recipes for healthy and tasty foods for you to try. We love these recipes from allrecipes.com. The side dish, Garlic Kale, is one of our favorite sides to accompany grilled chicken breast. The Turkey Chili is a fantastic warmer-upper on a cold evening; we like to serve it with crackers and shredded cheddar.
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
Wash all sand and dirt from the kale. Spin in salad spinner without drying the leaves. Immediately remove and discard stems. Chop the kale into 1-inch pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sautee garlic until it is sizzling, about 1 minute.
Add kale to the skillet and place a cover over the top.
Cook, occasionally stirring, until the kale is bright green and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1 (28 ounce) can canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans – drained, rinsed, and mashed
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Place turkey in the pot. Cook until evenly brown. Stir in onion. Cook until tender. Pour water into the pot.
Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and garlic. Add remaining seasonings. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Best Tasting Healthy Snacks
Healthy eating is getting tastier, but it what about those snacks and desserts? Eating healthy does not mean depriving yourself of snacks and desserts; it means eating different or healthier ones. Healthy desserts are more than fruit salads; a healthy snack doesn’t have to be carrot sticks.
At allrecipes.com, you’ll find some great healthy snacks and desserts, too. Here are a couple of our favorites.
We enjoy this salsa with the baked tortilla chips, also found at allrecipes.com.
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for half an hour.
Okay, we admit, this recipe is not 100% healthy, as it does contain butter, but we just can’t resist these Buffalo Chicken Wings. We console ourselves by the fact that they are infinitely healthier than the fried wings you’d pick up at the restaurant.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 10 chicken wings
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup hot sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 dash ground black pepper
Mix flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Place chicken wings in a large dish and sprinkle flour mixture over them until well coated. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour, uncovered.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake wings until juices run clear, about 15 minutes per side.
Combine butter, hot sauce, pepper, and garlic in a saucepan, over low heat. Cook while stirring until butter melts and sauce is well blended, about 3 minutes. Place wings in a bowl; add hot sauce, mixing well.
This is a delicious chocolate banana pudding that is a treat for your taste buds and your heart. Creamy tofu is the secret ingredient and a healthy substitute for dairy cream.
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 (12 ounce) package soft silken tofu
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp soy milk
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
Place all the ingredients into the blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Overcoming the addiction to sugars and fats will be challenging. These healthy and delicious alternatives will help you to make the transition to full-time healthy eating. After a few weeks of eating only healthy foods, you will find that your body begins to crave the natural ingredients and nutrients of non-processed vegetables and meats.
Further, after a year or so of healthy cooking and eating, you might find that junk food, if you eat it, will make you feel queasy or ill. Stick to your healthy eating and discover the real tastes of real foods.