I am so passionate about creating healthy, delicious and appealing food in my home kitchen. When my kids are intrigued and drawn to new dishes because of the way they look, I chalk up a win. When guests come over, I love nothing more than serving up “wow” food!
It breaks my heart that healthy food often gets a bad rap, labelled as bland and boring. When you hear the words “healthy food” does the uber cliché steamed broccoli and chicken breast in takeaway containers come to mind?
This does not need to be the case! It is my mission to share healthy food ideas that are beautiful, tasty and simply beg to be eaten. No more boring chicken and broccoli people! (Although we do love both in their own right)
To make sure I am always ready to serve something tasty and fresh if a friend pops by- I like to be prepared. My number one tip would always be to have a well-stocked fridge and pantry with your favourite staples. For me, these would include:
A variety of in-season fresh fruit and vegetables (mostly vegetables for our family);
A few types of fresh herbs and a whole lot of dried herbs and spices for seasoning;
Pantry staples (for us, we love different types of rice, sourdough bread and gluten-free pasta is a staple for the kids)
A couple of cans of coconut milk and passata, as well as a few cartons of pre-made stock never fail to come in handy for quick, tasty cook-ups.
Good olive oil and vinegar.
Many wrongly assume that healthy food is doomed to taste less flavourful, smell less appetizing, and look a little sadder on the plate. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are a few tricks from my kitchen that make healthy food taste incredibly delicious.
Try cooking with butter – try this with proteins, eggs and try adding a chunk into your soup before blending.
Use lots of herbs, fresh or dry, to season – so much better than store bought sauces. Make sure that you keep your favourites on hand at all times so that you can elevate any stir fry, curry, roast, stew or soup that you make.
Replace sour cream or cream with natural yogurt or labneh – so great to have on hand if you feel like something creamy and satisfying.
Eat what’s in season – when you find produce you like — particularly if you’ll admit to being a picky eater — it’s tempting to stick with what you know. But if you seek out the same produce year-round, you aren’t going to get the best flavour. Starting with the tastiest in-season ingredients is a sure-fire way to end up with a meal packed with flavour. So try new things in the produce section! Look for seasonal produce first and foremost. Seriously we have the internet these days- so preparation tips for new produce are literally at our fingertips.
Use bold flavours – don’t be afraid to use one or two bold flavours in your dishes. It’s not all about subtle and bland veggies on your plate. Have you tried miso, beetroot, fennel, chilli, a cool new cheese, coconut, brown butter, truffle or buttermilk in your dishes, for example? (Just to name a few ideas.)
Experiment with new salad dressings – healthy doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same old, same old. Salad dressings can be simple, complex, zingy, creamy, japanesy, frenchy, americano, mexicano and whatever you make them. Take a punt and try a different recipe or flavour combination. A dressing is such an amazingly easy way to change up your usual dishes just like that!
If you have spent the time making sure that your food is tasty and exciting, serve it up like a boss! Tempt the eyes – make them ‘need’ to taste it.
No need to be fancy- just make it pretty and interesting.
Here are some of my fuss-free ideas:
Use beautiful serving ware: Allow the food to stand out on neutral serving-ware (for some reason, food always looks great on white, black, grey and brown plates) or for a fun look, play with colour and use a bunch of mis-matched, colourful serving-ware (think Moroccan or Japanese themed!).
Have fresh herbs handy: A few sprigs of fresh herbs on top of any dish takes it to a new level– a bit of green is an easy way to make things pop on the plate.
Create the look of abundance: You know that feeling when you’re at a buffet and the sheer volume of food makes you want to dig in? Having Guests? Create the feeling of abundance by playing with heights, using serving trays, or use a variety of smaller or varied shape serving dishes so people aren’t shy to dig in.
Create a beautiful table: Whether or not you have guests over, it’s nice to sometimes play with how your table looks. This could mean some flowers or fresh herbs on your table, lovely linens, quality plates, beautiful platters, interesting cutlery or even some candles.
Play with colours and textures: Make your dishes pop by experimenting with different textures. For example, serve soups with freshly grated or crunchy toppings or try sprinkling a topping onto salads just before serving. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colours, too. Try serving something up on a bold or complimentary coloured plate (humms in a red bowl with a swirl of olive oil and a splash of paprika anyone?). Do you know those amazing food photographs in magazines? Hint! They use layers of things under the food to make it look delicious- think extra plates, platters, linens, cooling racks, cutting boards, cute little flower vases…!
The options are endless. Making food pop can be so much fun. Give these ideas a try and I guarantee that your cooking will elevate itself. Eating healthy can translate into eating fresh, seasonal and delicious food – most definitely not bland and boring.