Nutrition-wise blog

Do you have a taste for healthy foods?

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. August 24, 2011

You might not consider flavor as being a key player in prevention of disease or promotion of health. However, your perception of flavors contributes greatly to your acceptance and general liking of foods. For example, if you don't like the taste of vegetables, it's a good bet you avoid them. How then can you eat a healthy, balanced diet?

Instead of focusing on what you don't like, try focusing on what you do. Let's start with sweet — a flavor preference for most people. Did you know that some vegetables — sugar snap peas, red bell peppers and corn — have a sweet taste? Even onions can be sweet when you caramelize them. Another vegetable to try is winter squash. Cut in half or quarter and roast or microwave to have an easy meal of mildly sweet, slightly earthy flavors and soft texture that merits inclusion in the comfort food category. Not sweet enough for you? Peel, dice and roast the squash until slightly brown to experience a sweeter taste.

Maybe sweet isn't your first preference. The following options offer a mild sweetness that along with their other attributes might appeal to you. If you like foods that are crisp and crunchy, try jicama. You can cut it into thin strips and add it to a pita or wrap sandwich. In addition to flavor, you'll get fiber and vitamin C. Cucumbers are another good combination of cool and crisp. Mix them in vinegar for a stronger, pungent flavor.

But perhaps savory flavors are more to your liking. Mushrooms are a good bet. Try them sauteed. Or toss them in a stir fry, on a salad or in a sandwich.

Looking for something spicier? Peppers offer a spectrum of flavors — from mild and earthy to sweet and hot. Stuff a poblano or bell pepper with whole grains, veggies, and grated parmesan or blue cheese. Or add them to soups, salads and casseroles to punch up the flavor and boost the potassium and vitamin C content.

I encourage you to experiment with new foods and familiar foods prepared in new ways. Share your flavorful findings here to inspire others.

To your health,


Aug. 24, 2011