When you sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner, what you eat should be loaded with taste -- fabulous food you truly want to sink your teeth into. Eating deliciously may sound daunting to the strictest of dieters or to the novice chef, but if you have basic cooking skills, you can achieve dining bliss without unnecessary calories, fats or carbohydrates. The following six flavor boosters will fit effortlessly into any nutritional plan and easily satisfy your need for dynamite dining.
For protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry and meats, look for the leanest cuts with the fewest additives and preservatives. High-quality food sometimes comes at a higher price, but it also delivers a palatable payoff. The more flavor an ingredient has, the less you will need of it and, best yet, the more fulfilling it will be to eat. This gives you room to include more variety in your diet as well as supply your body with high-quality nutrients.
Fresh herbs: Freshly picked or grocery store herbs keep longer in the refrigerator if you place the cut ends in a container of water and loosely cover with plastic. Cilantro, parsley, sage, mint, thyme, dill and basil will supply a delicious brilliance to your food. Start simple with one herb, like cilantro, and experiment with its vibrant flavor. Then add more herbs to further liven up your meals.
Dried herbs: Dried herbs are handy and far less perishable than fresh herbs. A few to keep in your spice rack are bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme.
Spices: Buying all of the hundreds of spices available is impractical; a few essentials are black pepper, cayenne, celery seed, chili powder, cinnamon, clove, Chinese five-spice, curry powder, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, mustard powder, red pepper flakes and salt.
Less common but highly recommended are saffron, garam masala and herbs de Provence. Be adventurous and try an unfamiliar spice to give a familiar recipe a twist.
The French classics: Onions, shallots, garlic, peppers and gingerroot are star ingredients that enhance flavor in an infinite number of recipes.
Flavored mustards, vinegars, oils, hot sauce, curry, wasabi pastes, prepared horseradish, soy sauce, tamari, miso, tahini, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and Worcestershire all pack fabulous flavor in small amounts.
Vanilla extract is the most commonly used, but give others such as mint, almond, walnut, banana, anise, butter and rum-flavored extracts a chance to wow some of your favorite recipes. Extracts aren't just for baking; they flavorfully infuse many other foods. Use sparingly for best results; a drop or two will do.
Enjoying your favorites is important, but if you find yourself unenthused about a dish you make daily, it's time for a change. Your tastebuds and body will thank you.
Eating a variety of foods adds interest to your diet and supplies you with a wider range of vitamins, minerals and other healthful nutrients. The hundreds of food choices available make "rutdiets" absolutely unnecessary.
Healthful food that is supercharged with taste will make any diet plan a joy to adhere to and easy to adopt as a scrumptious way of life rather than a short-term pop diet.
Incorporate these flavor boosters into your menus and never eat dull again.
Information adapted from The Fitness Kitchen: Recipes for a fad-free diet (Taylor Trade, 2004) by Shelly Sinton, MS.
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