By Carol Witte, RDN, Senior Services Nutrition Program Director.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I always like to share some healthy eating tips with others. With so much information on websites, television, radio, magazines and more—how do you know how to eat right and how do you do it each and every day?
The theme to this year’s National Nutrition Month was “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!” Balance is the key to eating right! First, start with planning to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that you consume. Second, by enhancing the flavor of foods through different preparation techniques, you can ensure that others will eat the healthy food you prepare. All foods can fit! Fill up on those colorful foods and enjoy little tastes of food items which may be higher in calories, fat or sodium. Throughout my 30+ years as a dietitian I have realized that so many individuals get caught up with the diet games. Taste is the drive that keeps you going back to your favorite foods. The goal is to find new ways to increase the flavor of healthy foods without adding more salt and fat. “Easier said than done,” you may say! But, I disagree—it can be easy and a lot of fun to experiment with healthy, colorful foods.
First, start with good quality, fresh ingredients. Only buy what you need and what you know you can use before it will spoil. Once you start with good quality ingredients, the rest is easy. The following ideas will get you started.
When cooking meat, poultry or fish, intensify the flavor and moistness by pan searing, broiling or grilling the item first. This helps to keep the moisture in the meat as you continue to slow cook or roast your items. It provides a whole new flavor to the dishes you prepare.
Try grilling or roasting vegetables to enhance them with a sweet, smoky flavor. Brush them lightly with canola or olive oil first and sprinkle with your favorite herb or no salt added seasoning. Peppers provide a lot of color and flavor to dishes. With so many varieties out there you have the ability to adjust the flavor of your foods. Red, yellow, orange and green pepper varieties come in different levels from sweet to hot and spicy!
Try caramelizing garlic or onions to bring out their natural sugar. Just cook them slowly with a very small amount of oil on low heat until brown and golden colored.
Mix meat and vegetables together to make your own broth and add moisture in your home during these cold winter days. You can always freeze the leftovers and use them to flavor rice, pasta or other grain dishes. If you cook the broth at low heat, you will reduce the liquid and can also use it to flavor a sauce for your favorite meat, fish or poultry. Just add your favorite seasonings or, for a new twist, a flavored balsamic or herb flavored vinegar.
Try new foods and flavor combinations. Explore the world of flavors out there. The average adult has 10,000 taste buds and each person usually has a different flavor sensation from the same food.
Finally, enjoy healthy, nutritious meals with others. Eating together, sharing conversation and friendships make the food taste even better. If you do not have families or friends to enjoy meals with, then come to one of Senior Services’ centers to enjoy a delicious healthy meal and meet new friends at the same time. We welcome you to enjoy the taste of eating right at one of our centers!