You hear it all the time on cooking shoes. “Fat is Flavor.” You know what eliminates blandness? If you watch any cooking competitions you do. The answer is salt.
Fat and salt, two of the the things that make food taste good. I get it, I do. Fat helps us digest the nutrients in things like vegetables and helps us get the nutrition we need to run these big brains of ours that separate us from the lower primates swinging through the jungle. Salt helps us retain moisture so that our mostly water bodies don’t dry into dust in the hot hot sun.
I get it, I like my big brain and I hope it is many, many years before I turn into a pile of dust. In moderation, both of these things are good. The fact that in the past very little related to my diet was done in moderation is what got me in the shape I am today.
So fat and salt are cut way back as I work towards finding a more sustainable daily diet. The elimination of those two things are why most people consider diet food to be bland and tasteless.
Actually, my big issue with diet food is usually the artificial sweeteners. Most of them are far too sweet for me even if they don’t have that chemical aftertaste. But as I mentioned before I am not much of a sweet person.
You know what I am though? A gardener.
More importantly I am a gardener who who loves the grocery store’s spice section. I have found that if I bump up my herbs and spices, I can generally cut down on a lot of my salt and fat. In addition, herbs and spices don’t generally have a lot of calories. While I still put a small pinch of salt in my rice when I make it (about half of what I used to use), I make it with water instead of chicken stock and when it is done I mix in chopped cilantro and squeeze a wedge of lime over it. I then top it with peas, and sprinkle with mint. Sometimes I’ll add a bit of feta, but I limit it because of the salt. As long as I appropriately measure the rice, it’s a decent lunch.
The chicken I had last night was coated in a mix of fat free yogurt blended with cumin, dried oregano from my garden, a bit of curry powder and a dash of cayenne before being baked. I served it with a salad with fresh mint and basil mixed in with the romain, cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. Let me tell you, It was yummy. Both the chicken and salad.
Fat may be flavor, but if you are trying to limit your intake, reach for fresh herbs and spices. They can keep you from suffering bland, boring meals and as you mix and match both ingredients and amounts you can find something that is uniquely you and maybe something you haven’t tried before. I know that since I’ve been using more spices I generally search for ways to use up a jar I’ve already purchased.
I’ve found a lot of odd food combos and dishes that I never heard of. I’ll admit, some have proven disastrous. Others have become house favorites. Over all the good have outweighed the bad. Occasionally I still get strange looks at meal time, but the longer I push on, the more used to my experiments the rest of the house becomes. So I get seed packets and pots full of dirt to keep the herbs happy and peruse the spice aisle hoping to spot something I’ve never tried that looks like fun.
Do I still crave the salt and fat? Sometimes. And sometimes I give in. Herbs and spices aren’t better than fat and salt. Well health wise they may be, but not in taste. This isn’t going to taste better, but it does taste good. Its a change, but lets face it, if what I was doing worked, then I wouldn’t be on a diet.
At least with the new recipes and spice quest it is not a bland change. And it may be dieting, but it is also a bit of an adventure.