How to make healthy food that doesn’t taste like cardboard

Whether you go about it by following a meal plan or just taking your vegetable intake up a notch, it’s almost everyone’s goal to have a healthy diet. lot of times this means pulling out your pots and pans. 

Lisa Inlow, one of Saddleback’s culinary arts instructors, talks about cooking successfully. 

“It’ll be less stressful if you’ve read your recipe and you’ve measured out all of your ingredients first,” she said. 

Ever wondered why cooking looks like a much cleaner process on the Food Network? All their ingredients are pre-cut and measured, otherwise known as mise en place. If you do this, it’s not going to be “I forgot to chop my garlic… and now the onions are burning because I forgot to chop the garlic.”

Inlow adds that “if you’re not in a good mood, your food is not going to turn out good.” Of course, it’s not realistic to only cook when you’re having a good day, however, there are things you can do to make cooking a relaxing process. This is where proper preparation comes in handy.

Everyone wants their food to taste good, preferably restaurant good, but some wonder if that’s even possible. Most restaurants aren’t concerned about customers’ calorie and fat intake so they load on butter, salt and cream with a heavy hand. 

Joanne DeMarchi, another one of Saddleback’s nutrition and culinary instructors confirmed that healthy food that tastes good is definitely achievable.

 Inlow and DeMarchi recommend grilling foods instead of frying. “Lemon juice and orange juice and vinegars,” Inlow said, listing off ingredients to add that give your food that rich taste we all crave.

It’s important to remember adding fats to your cooking isn’t a bad thing, they should just be added in moderation. Olive oil is a great alternative to butter if you’re trying to use a non-dairy fat. Coconut oil is also full of health benefits.

DeMarchi adds that herbs are another great way to add flavor. Foods like salsa for example don’t require any butter or cream but are incredibly flavorful from all the spices. 

Inlow also adds that “everything tastes way better if it is ripened on the tree” and this means buying produce that’s in season. 

If you buy fruits and vegetables out of season that means they’re being shipped from somewhere else, and it takes time for produce to be shipped cross country. If fruit was picked ripe and then shipped it would be bad by the time it got to grocery stores. The best option is for fruits to be picked right before they’re ripe so that they ripen on the way.

In addition to fruits and vegetables that reach ripeness while still on the vine tasting better, they are much healthier as well. Vine-ripe produce is produce that hasn’t been picked before it’s ripe but has fully ripened while still on the tree, bush or vine it was growing on.

Studies show that vine-ripe produce has a higher concentration of antioxidants and vitamins compared to fruits and vegetables that get ripe sitting on a counter.

Cooking healthy meals is a learning process, and people get better with experience. However, following these principles can give you a great head start.