Today’s blog post is all about how to make healthy food taste delicious.
The inspiration for this post comes from a question I get asked a lot:
“How do I eat healthy when my family/partner/kid isn't into it?”
Maybe you can relate?
It’s not easy being the sole health nut in your family or circle of friends, is it?
For example, at breakfast, you want a green smoothie, but everyone else wants pancakes. And it would feel weird to order a smoothie or oatmeal when everyone's chowing down on pancakes and bacon.
Or maybe it's lunchtime, and your plan is to order a salad, but everyone else is all about the burger-and-fries. And they want you to be all about the burger-and-fries. Because unhealthy eating loves company.
Then, at dinner, you want to make roasted cauliflower and salad, or maybe a roasted potato stuffed with black beans and salsa, and your people — your kids, your partner — they just roll their eyes.
There you go with all of that healthy food again, they sigh. Can we just have quesadillas/chicken strips/pizza?
Well, friend, I see you.
When other people's (poor) dietary choices become your own
Nutritious food is important to you, because you know you feel better when green smoothies, salads, soups and other healthy dishes are part of your regular diet.
And you know how you feel when you’ve been eating too much take-out. Or when you put your family’s or friend’s dietary choices above your own — because it seems easier to just give in.
But here's the thing — when other people's dietary choices become your own, you can end up feeling bloated, puffy, and maybe even gurgly in the tummy.
Plus over time, you might start to feel defeated and disappointed, because you know how you want to be eating — but you keep getting sidetracked, all in the name of keeping the peace.
Realistically speaking, it can take some time to get your family and friends to get on board with the whole healthy eating thing. It can take weeks, months — even years.
And knowing that, do you really want to wait years for them to come around?
What's the secret to help speed them up a little? Start infusing your healthy food with big flavors, richness, and fun textures…
7 ideas to help make healthy food taste delicious — for you and your people
So here are some tips to help you make healthy food taste delicious, so that you can feel great in your body, while also helping those around you feel great too.
Start with great produce
I grew up in an era where boiled, frozen, and canned vegetables were the norm. No wonder I hated vegetables until I was in my 20s! I mean, I don’t think there’s anything more unappealing than boiled and mushy broccoli. You with me?
These days, we have access to so much wonderful produce — and it doesn’t have to be purchased at the super-expensive gourmet markets, either. Beautiful produce is available anywhere from Whole Foods to Walmart.
Of course, the freshest produce — and often the least expensive — will come from your local farmers market or CSA delivery/pick up.
But don’t sweat making a special trip to the farmers market. Pretty much any grocery store will do.
Look for what’s in season — this will be freshest, and it’ll probably have the best price point, too. For example, eat citrus fruits in the winter, and enjoy fresh strawberries in spring and summer.
Here are some examples of high-quality ingredients that can form the foundation of your healthy meal:
- Fresh heads of romaine, leaf, or butter lettuce (vs. greens that come in a box or bag)
- Broccoli, broccoli rabe or cauliflower
- Leafy greens such as rainbow chard and curly kale
- Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes
- A bunch of local carrots (vs. the pre-peeled kind in a bag)
- Whatever fruit is in season and looks good
Add onion or garlic
When I’m cooking dinner, I almost always start with some onion or garlic. Or both.
Here’s why: I figured out a long time ago that my son likes garlic. So, in order to make healthy dishes more appealing to him, I make sure there’s a fair amount of garlic involved.
Okay, a lot of garlic.
Here’s an example: when I make rice bowls, I sauté the beans with onion and garlic.
Or, when I make his beloved pasta, I make a “sauce” of vegan butter and garlic, warmed in a pan.
And then there’s Taco Tuesday, which I would never try to pull off without onions and garlic.
In addition, soups and stews almost always start out with an onion/garlic base.
Meal prep tip: to keep things easy, I try to peel and chop my onions on the weekend. That way, I have onions at the ready for quick weeknight meals.
But, if I’m not that organized, I buy chopped onion (or frozen chopped onion) at the grocery store.
I also buy peeled garlic at the grocery store. I use a lot of it, so not having to peel garlic every night is a big timesaver.
Try different methods of prepping and cooking
Here’s an example: take cauliflower. Raw? Not so tasty, at least to me.
But roasted cauliflower? Whole different ballgame — tastes like french fries!
Same goes for broccoli. I’m not a huge fan of steamed broccoli. But roasted or grilled? Yes please!
Here’s another example: some people don’t love regular oatmeal, but they love overnight (soaked) oats.
You could also try prepping certain foods in a way that will be more visually appealing for your family or friends.
For example, try cutting sweet potatoes into wedges to make oven baked “fries.”
Or, use a spiralizer to turn zucchini into fun noodles you can throw in a salad, or use as “pasta.”
You could also use a mandoline to slice radishes into fun garnishes for Taco Tuesday or chili night.
Or, grate raw beets onto a salad.
Honestly, there are so many fun ways to play with your food.
Add some healthy fat
Adding some healthy fat is a powerful way to make healthy food taste delicious.
Healthy fat also helps you feel satisfied for longer, and is great for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Plus, it can help our bodies absorb nutrients more effectively.
Here are some ideas for how to incorporate healthy fat into your meals:
- Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top of soups.
- Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil) for your salad dressings.
- Top your bowls or chili with sliced avocado.
- Roast some nuts and seeds and sprinkle them on your salad.
- Use coconut oil for homemade granola.
- Add hemp seeds to your salad or smoothies.
- Blend up a cashew cream and drizzle on top of berries.
- Use coconut based yogurt for a breakfast parfait.
Hit up the spice drawer
Getting to know your grocery store’s spice and condiment aisle a little better is an amazing way to make healthy food taste delicious.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Chili powder: add to roasted potatoes, sauces.. and chili!
- Smoked paprika: add to roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
- Granulated garlic: add to salad dressings and sauces.
- Lemon pepper: sprinkle on vegetables before roasting or grilling.
- Curry powder: use in salad dressing, sauces, and soups.
- Thai curry paste: use in soup or this Thai Carrot Hummus.
- Red pepper flakes, Cholula, and Frank’s Red Hot: I love these on pretty much everything.
- Truffle salt: sprinkle on pasta and popcorn.
- Nutritional yeast: sprinkle on roasted potatoes, and blend into sauces and caesar style dressing.
Finish with fresh herbs and salt
One of my favorite ways to dress up a dish — and add a hit of nice, bright flavor — is to add some chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, or mint.
Plus, herbs are high in antioxidants, which makes them a welcome addition to any dish.
For salt, I don’t add much during the cooking process because I lean towards a more low-sodium style diet. Better for the ol’ blood pressure, right?
I do use it, however, and I like to keep some “fancy” salt on hand. For example, for cooking I’ll use a Celtic gray salt or kosher salt.
And then right before serving, I’ll sprinkle dishes with a good flaky salt such as Maldon — or our very own made-in-Oregon Jacobsen’s Salt.
Serve with a yummy sauce
This may be a case where I’ve saved the best for last.
Not that the other tips aren’t as good, but because a yummy sauce can rescue the blandest and most boring of dishes.
And, the right sauce can convince picky eaters of all ages that healthy food is delicious.
Here are some ideas:
- Hot sauce: my go-to, as a hot sauce addict
- Maple tahini dressing/sauce
- My recipe for healthy Buffalo Sauce
- A healthy, very cheese-like “queso” made from potatoes and carrots
- Another healthy cheese sauce made from cashews
- Local salsas from your grocery store’s refrigerated section
- Cafe Yumm Sauce
- A yummy homemade salad dressing such as my Vegan Ranch or Caesar Dressing
- Plant based yogurt or sour cream
I hope these tips help you get some tasty and healthy food on the table. Food that both you and your people will love.
If you have any questions along the way, please DM me on Instagram. I'd love to hear from you!