Attention dieters! Would you like to know how to flavour food naturally?
When it comes to "dieting" as most of you like to call it we get stuck in the trap of thinking that healthy food has to be tasteless and boring. We think the only way to make food taste good is by listening to the "gurus" at Maggi, or finding a Bit on the Side, or opening a jar of Chicken Tonight. One serving of Chicken tonight can add an extra 120 or so calories to your meal, not to mention a whole lot of additives that body has to deal with.
Let's get back to real honest authentic flavouring of food, like we did before we let flavours become metabolically damaging chemistry experiments.
Would you like to know how to flavour your food naturally?
Great, take some time and read this blog from start to finish, there are concepts, hints, recipes and links.
In my local Countdown Supermarket, the herb/spice aisle ALSO is the pickled veg aisle (gherkins etc) is ALSO the mustard aisle, is ALSO the soy sauce aisle. So in this one section of the supermarket alone you have access to hundreds of different flavour combinations. This section of the supermarket needs to be your best friend. We also have the international foods section which offers a range of concentrated flavour pastes, these provide maximum flavour with a small calorie punch. Finally we have the fruit and veg section offering a huge range of condiment type vegetables.
So let's break it down for you.
How to : Dried herbs/spices and seasonings
First, switch your brain off and think with your tongue. Freestyle cooking is the art of cooking without recipes or brain aneurisms. Pick a cooking method for your "boring" foods (baked, grilled, fried, boiled, steamed, poached, slow cooker, BBQ etc), then just chuck in a tsp of dried herbs and a bit of salt and pepper and taste it.
Did you like the taste? If the answer is yes, great, write it down, you now have a flavour that you like. If the answer is no, don't get all upset about it, just make a note that you didn't like it and gift the box of herbs away. They're only $4. Then, go and try a different one.
Once you get your confidence up, you can start adding different herbs. For example, you know you like oregano and you know you like turmeric. Who in this great world of ours says you can't have both? Give me their name and I'll give them a lesson on food creation. Do you think the person who invented the flavour profile for Butter Chicken was concerned that he was adding cinnamon with salt and pepper as part of this creation? What do you add cinnamon with? Did you answer sugar? If so, then the idea of cinnamon and salt seems odd right? Well its not odd, because it is part of one of the most popular dishes in the world. There is no rulebook of what goes with what.
Make your own mixes.
Go and have a look at a packet of Maggi Apricot Chicken? It has 4-5 key herbs in there and a bunch of fillers. You don't need to know how much of each herb is in there, just use a tsp of each, shove it in a casserole dish with water, chicken, onion and a few fresh apricots and casserole it up. Easy. I guarantee you'll enjoy the taste. Do this with all your favourite flavour sachets and sauces. Find out the ingredients and then use the ingredients in their natural state.
Google. We all use it, so why don't you google "make my own rogan josh spice mix"? Don't have time? Yeah you do, I see you on Facebook, Trademe, Amazon, EBay. You have time.
The thing with herbs and spices is that you have to be willing to try. Go on, just try it.
Here's a yummy herb mix:
Dried onion, dried red pepper, rock salt, garlic powder, dried basil, dried chives. Mix it all together and sprinkle over meats or veg and cook.
How to : Pickled Veges
Gherkins, sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, pickled capsicum, pickled onions etc are are all vegetables with concentrated hits of flavour. Take a basic lettuce, cucumber, sprout and carrot salad, now add a few chopped gherkins and taste the difference. Next week lets say we're bored of gherkins, so go and get some olives instead and add a few of them. Same salad, different flavours.
Blend up a few olives (make sure the pits are removed) and spread on top of a steak. You don't have to be a Masterchef and you don't have to know how to create a proper Olive Tapenade.
Again, be willing to try. I know how much money ALL of you waste on food, so if you tell me you don't want to waste money on a jar of olives you might never eat then I will tell you a hundred different things you are wasting your money on instead. If you don't like them, gift them away. It's a nice gesture to feel good about.
How to : The mustard section
Grainy mustard, english mustard, dijon mustard. They are all perfectly fine when "dieting" (yuck, horrid word). They are, again, concentrated hits of flavour so you don't need to use much.
In the mustard section in the supermarket we also have fish sauce and soy sauce. Go ahead, go crazy!!
Try it. Go on.
Would you like a yummy diet friendly vinaegrette?
1tsp seeded mustard mixed with 1TSBP flaxseed (or olive) oil and 1TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar. You don't need much, just coat the salad lightly.
Or how about a diet friendly mayonnaise:
In a blender add 2 egg yolks, 1tsp mustard powder and 1TBSP of white vinegar. Switch the blender on and drizzle in slowly 150ml of olive oil. Use a tablespoon of this natural mayo on your salad, meat or veg. It has 14g of fat, which is a tablespoon of oil. It's ok to use oil folks, fat is not the enemy when it comes to weight loss and health. The inflammatory Weight Watchers Mayo is really something to panic about.
How to : international foods
This is where you will find sachets and small jars of concentrated pastes. These are going to last you longer than a jar of Chicken Tonight. The easiest way to use a paste is to fry it off in a little oil and then add your meat (if stirfrying). But really team, there are no rules ok, add it to your cooking at any stage. You can even smear in on your food after cooking. Think freely!! One basic rule though, if you are going to use a paste, do cook it off gently first before adding on top of veges or meats, you need to cook out the flavours in the paste.
Use caution, there are still jars of sauces in the international foods section with high calorie content, so just go for the concentrated pastes and only use a small amount in cooking.
Make your own pastes
Go mad and make your own pastes, all you need is a mortar and pestle. Paste making is a lot of fun and rewarding once you cook and taste your creation. Homemade pastes taste a lot better that store bought.
Make a whole lot and freeze your pastes, build up a selection so you have a quick and easy flavour to grab when cooking.
And there are no rules to pastes, if you want to add an extra tsp of chilli to your paste go ahead...it's YOUR paste!
How to : fresh veg
Garlic, onions, fresh herbs, ginger, lemons and limes are all great ways to flavour up a dish. Ok, so you've got a boring piece of poached fish, finely chop a little fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon over the top (don't forget your salt and pepper) and tell me now how boring that fish is.
Do you trust yourself to make the right flavour choice?
If not, here's a quick guide:
Have fun with your nutrition and keep it wholesome! Support your health, don't rob from it.