Let’s face it: “healthy eating” has a PR problem.
If you’re new to eating healthy, that phrase may bring to mind an unappetizing image of a boring plate of salad topped with grilled chicken next to a piece of fruit. It’s what you might scoff at as “rabbit food.”
Yes, foods like fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains are part of a balanced, healthy diet, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with plain oatmeal and a banana for breakfast every day.
Whole foods can act as a blank canvas: Experiment with exciting flavors and textures along with new ways of cooking to maximize the deliciousness of your healthy meals, so you’ll want to eat them again and again.
8 Healthy Eating Tips to Banish Boring Meals
We believe healthy eating is about making wholesome foods taste so good you’ll want to eat them all of the time. Here are a few culinary tips and recipe suggestions to elevate your healthy eating game:
1. Go for full-flavored salads
A healthy, satiating salad with protein, tons of fiber-filled veggies, flavorful toppings, and a light dressing can provide you with essential nutrients and satisfy your tastebuds.
While it may sound counterintuitive to add calories just to get you to eat your veggies, it’s entirely possible to jazz them up without sabotaging your weight-loss goals. Be smart about what you’re adding: skip calorie bombs like candied nuts, watch portion sizes, and use spices to add flavor and depth. Add zest to your leafy greens with this Honey Lemon Dressing.
2. Try a new cooking technique
You know the healthy cooking drill: baked chicken, broiled fish, and hard-boiled eggs ad nauseam.
Switch things up and experiment with new cooking techniques so you can make mouthwatering meals like this Hawaiian Salmon, which uses oven-poaching to keep the fish moist and flavorful.
Different cooking techniques create different smell and flavor compounds that can enhance the taste of food.
Same goes for cooking veggies: We know it’s easy to nuke broccoli in the microwave or steam it on the stove, but think out of the pot and try some of these recipes:
3. Be BFFs with your pantry
Salt and pepper alone won’t cut it. You have to learn how to flavor with herbs and spices if you want to whip up tasty meals. These flavor agents give ingredients their cuisine identity.
Plain Jane chicken, for example, can turn Italian with rosemary and oregano, or Asian with soy sauce and ginger. Beginner cooks may get overwhelmed by all the variety, so here are few herbs, spices, and blends to get you started:
Savory: chili powder, curry powder, rosemary, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano.
Sweet: cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, cocoa powder.
4. Add some zest to your dish
Squeeze a lemon or lime over a savory dish to brighten and enhance its flavor, no extra salt needed!
Use lemon in place of vinegar in marinades and salad dressings. Invest in a zester so you can work the fragrant lemon peel into meat dishes and dessert. Mouthwatering Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs? Yass!
5. Pretty-up your meals
Plate your food in a way that piques your appetite. Use a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to add color and (nutrition!) to your meal.
Get creative with presentation and make Sweet Potato Egg Cups for a convenient breakfast, Mustard Chicken and Spinach Mason Jar Salad for an Instagram-ready lunch, and Turkey Lettuce Wraps for dinner. This goes for snacks too.
6. Health-ify your cravings
Play with flavor and texture to make a healthier version of your favorite comfort foods. If you crave tater tots, try baked Cheesy Broccoli Tots.
If you want chicken fingers, try these Chicken Tenders with Lemon and Broccolini. We bet there are healthier variations for any of your food cravings. (Did someone say “Healthier Mac and Cheese“? Yes, please!)
7. Host a dinner party
Instead of shelling out dough at a restaurant, throw a dinner party to bond with your friends.
Eating with loved ones can help you build more positive memories related to healthy eating. Get them involved in meal prep: Host a build-your-own taco bar or a sushi-rolling party.
8. Add a touch of umami
Umami refers to savory, the fifth taste. There are tons of high-umami foods that can give your healthy dish a flavor punch. These include caramelized onions, shiitake mushrooms, cheese, ripe tomatoes, chicken broth, fish sauce, and even nutritional yeast.
The Bottom Line
Patience is key. If you’re someone who has (finally) gotten yourself to crave healthy food, you know it takes time for your eating habits to change. Be patient and pretty soon you’ll master the art of healthy eating.