Struggling to prepare healthy meals that not only are kind to your waistline, but also taste good on your fork? You’re not alone. Many home cooks have a tough time figuring out how to make healthy food taste delicious. And many wrongly assume only unhealthy food tastes good, while healthy food is doomed to taste less flavorful, smell less appetizing, and look a little sadder on the plate. Fortunately, they’re completely wrong. And professional chefs have discovered (and shared) numerous tricks that make healthy food taste incredibly delicious.
Check out some of chefs’ most useful tips for making any healthy meal into one you’ll savor.
1. Season your butter to use less of it
If you’re cooking healthy meals, you already know you need to use butter only in moderation. A chef-approved way to do that? Season your butter. According to Greatist, “Adding extra seasoning to butter adds a flavor that you wouldn’t get with plain butter — so you can use less overall.” Thyme, garlic, and lemon zest all make great additions, especially if you’re cooking meat. To season butter, just heat it in a saucepan until it foams. Then, remove it from the heat, and add your herbs, spices, or flavorings of choice. Let it sit briefly. Then, strain and refrigerate it.
2. Roast vegetables
Many people hate the taste of super-healthy veggies, such as beets. But you can still learn to love them — and benefit from their nutritious makeup — by learning the right way to prepare them. Women’s Health learned chefs mellow or balance out the less pleasant flavors of beets by roasting them. Just cut off the leaves and stem. Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for at least half an hour. Then, peel and serve with mustard. Roasting works great with other veggies, too. Most just need to be tossed with a bit of oil.
3. Replace sour cream, mayo, or butter with labneh
Greatist also reports you can replace high-fat ingredients — such as sour cream, mayonnaise, and butter — with labneh. This strained yogurt cheese is both thicker and creamier than Greek yogurt. (Yogurt can also substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise.) You can even use labneh in place of butter when you’re baking. According to Greatist, the swap “adds flavor, moisture, and brings a lightness to enhance any dish.”
4. Add salt, instead of sugar, to your coffee or tea
For a healthier caffeine kick each morning, you probably try to minimize the amount of sugar you mix into your coffee or tea. But Greatist learned some chefs recommend foregoing the sugar altogether — and trying a dash of sea salt instead. The salt intensifies the taste of your favorite tea or coffee. And it might bring out subtle flavors you hadn’t even noticed in past cups. Plus, it neutralizes any bitterness, without the extra calories like sugar does.
5. Try a blended salt to add flavor to your meals
Another great use of salt when you’re preparing a healthy meal? Good Housekeeping learned many chefs use blended salts to add complexity to flavors and help them complement one another. The principle applies whether you’re cooking something that’s high in calories and fat or a light meal with lean meat and healthy sides. So how do you try it? “Salt blends are made by adding a ground spice or herb, such as coriander or rosemary, to a base salt.” You can even “wake up” stale spices by toasting them in a dry pan prior to using them.