Who isn’t in love with flavorful food that’s good for the soul? Turn any recipe you cook into a quality dish to savor with these flavoring tips.
Adding flavors in cooking is all about using them smartly in ways that bring out the quality of fresh ingredients. From fresh herbs to your spice rack, there are so many ways to get creative and enhance the natural taste of your dishes.
Here are a few ways to get you started in the kitchen:
1. Cook with your nose AND tastebuds.
Start with aromatic ingredients like ginger, garlic, mint, and chiles in your healthy dishes. Understand how these play into the flavor profiles of your favorite ethnic cuisines so you can experiment or reinvent another dish with similar flavors. For example, a few of the important flavors of Mexico are chile, avocado, chocolate, lime, oregano, cumin and cilantro.
2. Start with quality ingredients.
Fresh fruits and vegetables naturally give your dish a quality head start. Produce from your local farmers’ market will not only be in season, but will most likely taste better. For best flavor, keep certain fruits out at room temperature, such as apples, pears, persimmons, peaches, nectarines and even tomatoes. Refrigerator temperatures will mute their sweet flavors.
3. Stock up the kitchen.
Organize your kitchen and keep that pantry stocked! If ingredients are at your fingertips, you are probably more likely to cook something healthy and tasty rather than go to a restaurant. For example, add high quality olive, nut, truffle and sesame oils to finish your dishes, just a little bit will provide a burst of flavor.
4. Just a pinch.
Try using just a pinch of a finishing salt to season after cooking rather than dousing with salt during cooking if you need to reduce sodium. The tiniest pinch of a flaky sea salt such as Maldon salt will add an intense salty pop, or try truffle salt for an umami flavor!
5. Maximize flavor with herbs and spices.
A bit of dried herbs and spices can also provide a pop of flavor. Bonus: herbs and spices are dense with potent antioxidants! Try using turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, cloves and ginger in your cooking. Other great salt-less enhancers include rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, chile and lemon juice. Dry rubs or marinades are also a great way to flavor meat prior to cooking. Add a smoky flavor with smoked paprika, smoked finishing salt, smoked olive oil, or chipotle chile.
The possibilities are as endless as your imagination when you have so many combinations of flavors.
Let your creativity shine!
Read on for more flavorful cooking tips and swaps.
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Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, CSSD, CLT is a Los Angeles-based dietitian, specializing in food sensitivities and culinary creations. Whether she’s working with students at University of Southern California or in her private practice, Lindsey helps others find the healthy foods that they love so help sustain their long-term success. To find your tastiest balance in life, connect with Lindsey at Tasty Balance Nutrition.