One of the many factors contributing to obesity in our society today has to do with the ’emptiness’ of much of our food supply. Our food choices become progressively more processed, less nutritionally valuable, and often less flavorful as well. (see BOTTOM LINE below for why flavor matters)
Over a decade ago, I spent a year on a research sabbatical at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, at the Department of Human Nutrition. During this year, I was so fortunate to be able to participate in the group lunches that were prepared at the Department by our amazing research kitchen staff. These lovely people are real culinary superstars, designing tasty meal plans to meet research protocols with very specific dietary requirements (specific % protein, carbohydrate, fat, omega 3, varieties of fiber content…. you name it!). One thing I took great note of in their cooking style for our lunches, was the creative use of tasty and low calorie ingredients that made a meal experience so much more satisfying.
Let me whet your palate with a short list of my favorites, which have adorned my own fridge in the years since! These ingredients are inspired by cuisine from around the world. And with all the time we have at home right now, it’s a great time to try some new recipes. Consider including:
– radishes (in a salad, for example)
– horseradish (adorning a healthy cut of meat)
– mustard (especially a grainy dijon)
– pickled baby onions
– wasabi (believe it or not – in a Waldorf-type salad!)
– pickled beets
– fresh herbs!! cilantro, parsley, basil, dill, mint….. Freeze them for future use. You can also try growing them at home in an outdoor pot or indoor herb garden.
– sun dried tomatoes
– hot sauce (of course!)
– pickled ginger
– dill pickles
(note that some of these are high in salt)
BOTTOM LINE: The point is to introduce some stronger tastes onto your plate. These additions will make your meals much more interesting, giving you cause to enjoy each bite more slowly and encouraging more mindful eating. Eating slowly will also help you to consume less calories because our fullness (or ‘satiety’) hormones start to kick in 10-15 minutes after we start eating. Spice is also great portion control – note how we tend to consume less when our food makes our eyes tear a little bit!
Wishing everyone a safe, restful, and tasty holiday season!
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