Cooking 101: More Taste, Less Waist

Posted On Jan 14, 2015 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

More Taste, Less Waist

Nutritious can be delicious, and it should be. Boredom, lack of variety, and not knowing how to cook healthy are common reasons people have challenges making a shift in eating habits. If you're used to cooking everything in butter, coating food in flour first or microwaving your meals regularly, it can be an overwhelming adjustment to start cooking healthier. And if healthy cooking isn't part of your arsenal, healthy eating won't be either.

Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain muscle or just be generally healthier, what you put on your plate doesn't have to be bland and boring. It's possible to add flavor without sacrificing nutrition or adding extra calories. In many cases, it's the ingredients, method of cooking and preparation that bring out robust flavors and enhance the nutritional benefits of food. Follow this guide to bring yummy, homemade meals to your dinner table:

  • Roast, Sauté, and Steam.

    These three methods of cooking help foods retain their texture, flavor, and nutritional value rather than boiling, nuking, or frying. Using a crockpot to slow-cook foods also helps develop flavor without sacrificing nutrition.

    • Bonus Tip:

      Invest in silicone baking mats for no-mess roasting, a steamer basket, and crockpot. Proper kitchen tools are well worth it!

  • Don't cut out all of the salt.

    Salt draws out and enhances the natural flavor of foods and other spices. If you're doing more cooking at home and cutting back on processed foods, your sodium intake will automatically be reduced. Add a dash of salt during cooking, but try to avoid automatically salting your food at every meal.

  • Marinate.

    For chicken and fish, 20-30 minutes of soaking in a marinade is enough time to completely change the flavor of a dish.

    • Bonus Tip:

      Include an acidic liquid to your marinade such as vinegar, orange juice, or lemon juice.

  • Explore the condiment aisle.

    Check out different flavored mustards, salsas, vinegars, and low-sodium soy or teriyaki sauces. All of which are naturally low in calories, but rich in taste. Use on top of vegetables, meat, fish, or to flavor salads. Salsa makes a great baked potato topper.

  • Keep stock.

    Keep minced garlic, ginger, lemon juice, and lime juice in the fridge for convenience.

  • Use small amounts of high-calorie, high-flavor items.

    Instead of dousing dishes in cream and butter sauces, try sprinkling cheese or a few toasted nuts atop vegetables, grain dishes, or salads. For example, instead of mac n' cheese, try pasta with vegetables sprinkled with fresh herbs and grated parmesan.

One last tip: Don't overlook color and texture. Chicken breast, cauliflower, and brown rice make a healthy meal from a nutrition standpoint, but this combination lacks color and visual appeal, which are also part of creating a satisfying dining experience.