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Flavour your way to health with these easy kitchen additions

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We’re surrounded by delicious, highly processed foods.

So much so that our palates are accustomed to high-flavour, sweet and salty foods, which makes transitioning to minimally processed whole foods a challenge because they taste so different. If you’re serious about learning how to eat well long-term, you must master the art of adding flavour to your food without the use of high-energy dressings, marinades, and sauces, or through learning how to make them yourself.

Long lasting habits are the result of a combination of factors, one of which is getting enjoyment and pleasure out of food. If your ‘healthy diet’ is boring and tasteless, it won’t become a regular part of your life. Food needs to taste great and there are lots of nutritious and delicious foods just waiting to be included in your cooking! Gaining just a small amount of skill in the kitchen will go a long way to helping you be a regular healthy eater.

Here are some great foods that add flavour to your cooking without adding excess kilojoules and in many cases, instead adding extra health benefits:

Onion

Always a winner, there’s a reason why it’s in almost every recipe.

Garlic

Very good for you and rich in flavour, garlic is a fantastic addition to most meals. Plus, it smells awesome gently sautéing in the pan. Fresh is the best option and offers the best flavour. Use it with your vegetables, in roasts, pastas, rice dishes, curries, stir fries… It goes with pretty much anything!

Ginger

A great sauce of nutrition and bursting with vibrant flavour. Use it in fruit blends and juices, stir fries, soups, broths, marinades, homemade dressings and more.

Chili

Great for adding a touch of heat and flavour to your food. Plus, chilies contain a range of phytochemicals that promote health. Large chilies are milder than small chilies. You can also reduce the heat of a chili by removing the seeds before cooking.

Lemon

A touch of citrus can literally transform a dish. Feel free to use the juice and the rind. Drizzle over a pasta dish or stir fry just before serving. Add to fish dishes, homemade dressings or meat marinades.

Lime

A slightly different taste to lemon, but just as good in the flavour stakes. Use the juice and rind. Drizzle over a pasta dish or stir fry just before serving. Add to fish dishes, homemade dressing or meat marinades.

Fresh herbs

Basil, coriander, parsley, chives, dill, thyme, rosemary, sage: all of these will pack an absolute flavour punch to your food. Use them in dressings, marinades, as a garnish, with salad leaves and so much more.

Dried herbs

These are quick, convenient and economical. Make sure you keep your pantry stocked full of the whole range. Use them in soups, pastas and other dishes as well as homemade marinades, dressings, and sauces.

Spices

These are also quick, convenient and economical. Make sure you keep your pantry stocked full of the whole range. Use them in curries, soups, pastas and other dishes as well as homemade marinades, dressings and sauces.

Mustard

High on flavour, mustard only needs to be used sparingly. It’s great for adding to homemade dressings, marinades and sauces. Use wholegrain, Dijon and English, they’re all great and add flavour in a unique way.

Vinegar

The addition of the strong acidic taste of a vinegar really enhances the natural flavours of food. Use apple-cider, red wine, white wine, balsamic, white balsamic, white and rice wine.

Need some inspiration? Here are 5 flavour combos to try: 

Lemon, mustard, and rosemary

Combine the juice from 1 lemon with 2-3 tsp wholegrain mustard and 1/2 tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary. Mix together well. Allow chicken or lamb to marinate for about 30 minutes or longer. Cook on a char-grill or BBQ. Serve with a fresh garden salad.

Lemon, basil, and garlic

Combine the juice of 1 lemon with 1/2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 crushed garlic clove) and 1 tbsp each of chopped fresh basil and Italian parsley. Pour over char-grilled vegetables such as zucchini, capsicum, Spanish onion and eggplant. Serve.

Dijon salad dressing

Combine 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp honey and 1tbsp of white vinegar. Shake to combine well. Taste and adjust by adding any of the 3 ingredients to your liking. Drizzle on a fresh salad or cooked meat.

Tomato salsa

Combine 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp of finely shredded fresh basil, 1/4 Spanish onion finely chopped and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar. Toss together and serve with grilled fish, chicken or steak. You can also serve it on top of whole meal or sourdough toast.

Spiced Vegetables

Toss vegetables (pumpkin slices, red onion quartered, zucchini sliced length ways) in 1 tsp of minced garlic and 1 1/2 tbsp Middle Eastern spice – Harissa. Place on a baking tray and spray with a small amount of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve with cous cous or toasted Turkish bread.

For more delicious recipes, check out The Healthy Eating Hub.

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