Nobody likes a bland entree or side dish, so many cooks combat this by reaching for some salt or sugar. For families looking to cut down on their sodium or sugar intake, this can be cause for concern. But don’t worry … just because you’re looking to get healthier doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor! There are plenty of ways to enhance the flavor of your meals and desserts without resorting to sugar and salt!
Consider a new method of cooking
Cooking meat on a pan in the oven isn’t the most efficient way to enhance the flavor. Instead, consider prepping your steaks on the grill, broiling your chicken or searing your fish in a skillet. These methods bring out the natural flavors in the meat, leaving you with less need for seasoning. Sauteeing vegetables in just a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil is the best way to prepare them, giving them a sweeter flavor and a softer texture, negating the need for salt.
“After a while, you won’t even think of salt or sugar.”
Use other seasonings and herbs instead
Why give your meals a salty flavor when you can use a plethora of herbs and spices for a wider array of flavor? Garlic powder is a great substitute for salt and cinnamon, cocoa powder and nutmeg make a good replacement for sugar. After a while, you probably won’t even think of adding salt and sugar when you have these other flavors at your disposal.
When it comes to preparing meat, consider broadening your horizons and trying a variety of herbs to enhance the taste. Oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley are incredibly flavorful. Visit your local grocery store or farmer’s market for an extensive selection of herbs that you can buy in small amounts, just so you can try them and see which flavor you like best.
While citrus juice has a place in a healthy diet, the juice and fruit itself aren’t the only sources of flavor. The rind of a lemon, lime or orange can also add some zip to your baked goods. Simply use a small grater (or buy a zester) to get just as much zest as you need for your recipe, and put your fruit in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it or use the zest for another recipe. Be careful not to grate the rind too hard, as the membrane beneath the peel can make your zest bitter.
Don’t eliminate natural sweeteners
While some recipes need refined sugar in order to bake properly, others can be made just as delicious with natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup. If you decide to use one of these sticky sweeteners in place of white sugar, three-fourths of a cup will add about as much sweetness as a full cup of sugar. Just use a smaller amount of liquid, like milk or water, in these recipes, as liquid sugar makes the dough much more moist than dry sugar does. It may take a little bit of trial and error to perfect your recipe, but the end result is worth it – a healthier baked good!
“Umami is a Japanese word that describes a fifth taste.”
Umami is a Japanese word that describes a fifth taste – aside from sweet, salty, bitter and sour – that’s savory, but not necessarily salty. According to Reader’s Digest, some foods with natural umami include Parmesan cheese, shellfish, soy and mushrooms. Next time you feel like your dish is lacking in something but you can’t figure out what that might be, consider adding one of those ingredients instead of reaching for the salt shaker. They can give your dish a savory flavor without the sodium.
Stay away from “low-fat”
Let’s be honest – fat is what makes a lot of processed foods taste good. So you may wonder why foods that are labeled “low-fat” or “fat-free” can taste just as good as the original version. The truth is, they can’t, unless other elements – like extra sugar – are added to them. According to the BBC, though manufacturers lower the oil content in “low-fat” foods, most of them add sugar so the foods will maintain their taste and texture. If you’re concerned about your family’s intake of sugar, enjoy the sweet treat where it belongs – in the occasional dessert, not in your salad dressings or sauces.