Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Electrify Your Taste Buds

Are you tired of healthy foods tasting bland and boring?  In honor of National Nutrition Month, we’re celebrating ways to jazz up the flavor profile of whole foods.  Get ready to say goodbye to foods that taste “healthy” and learn how to electrify your taste buds by enhancing the flavors of umami, sour, spicy and sweet. 

By Nutritionist Siona Sammartino, MS, CN

Discover a New Kind of Savory
Scientists have revealed a fifth taste known as umami, which is the savory meaty flavor found in aged cheeses, meats, tamari or soy sauce and sea vegetables.  Umami tends to be a flavor we crave and look for in dishes, which makes it perfect for enhancing whole foods.  If new to sea vegetables, try rehydrating arame, a very mild seaweed, in apple juice and then drain and finely chop it up to sneak it into eggs, salads and sauces.  In small amounts arame will add the umami you crave without the sea flavor.  Also, choose low sodium tamari and add to vegetable stir-fry’s, braised greens, sauces, marinades, dressings, dips and more.

Pep It Up with Some Zing
Sour flavors help to brighten up earthy foods, enlivening flavors and making food dance on the palette.  Also, the sour and salt receptors are located on similar locations on the tongue, meaning the use of sour flavors can limit the need for excessive amounts of salt.  Harness the mouth watering goodness of sour foods by finishing dishes with a splash of citrus juices (see Spicy Sautéed Green Beans below) such as lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit or vinegars such as red wine, balsamic or apple cider vinegar and NEVER call your food “earthy” again! 

Bring on the Heat
The heat you find in hot peppers and certain spices is not an actual “flavor,” but instead spicy foods interact with pain receptors on the tongue, making heat tolerance very individual. Yet many find themselves craving the fire!   But be careful to not overdo the heat factor, as spicy foods can have a numbing effect and you’ll no longer taste food’s other flavors.  To add a spicy kick and fire it up try Sriracha sauce, red pepper flakes, serrano chilies, jalapeno or cayenne.  Sauté veggies with garlic and red pepper flakes and add some pizzazz to your veggie routine with “Spicy Sautéed Green Beans” (see recipe below).

A Sweet Desire
Most of us crave a sweet treat and can find ourselves reaching for the ice cream, cookies and chocolate all too often.  While these foods can still have a place in a healthy diet, learning how to enhance foods natural sweetness can help to satisfy our sweet desire.  Roasting foods is one of the best ways to boost food’s natural sweetness.  Dress vegetables with oil and salt and roast for about 45 minutes in a 400-425 degree Fahrenheit oven until golden on the outside and tender in the middle.  You’ll be having sweet dreams all day long!

With all of these NEW ways to add zest to your healthy eating routine, you’ll now be sure to ENJOY the taste of EVERY nourishing dish!     


Spicy Sautéed Green Beans
Green vegetables are packed with a variety of nutrients and different flavors to mix up your routine.  Here green beans dance in the pan with spicy red chili flakes, garlic and lemon.  When it’s all finished, it will be a party in your mouth! 

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Yields: 1.5 cups

2 teaspoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups green beans or haricots, halved
2 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
½-1 teaspoon of red chili flakes, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
3-5 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon, lime juice or golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat a large cast-iron or carbon-steal skillet to medium-high heat for about a minute.  Add oil and allow it to heat up and coat the bottom of the pan.  Add beans and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Beans are ready when they are vibrant green, tender but still have a slight crunch.

Then, add garlic, chili and salt and sauté for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and toss to coat with lemon juice and parsley.  Serve and enjoy. 

Copyright 2010, Siona Sammartino, MS, CN, Original recipe,

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