"Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2014. Consumer research confirms that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another. While social, emotional and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat most. This year's key messages for National Nutrition Month focus on how to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the Dietary Guidelines recommendations.
Our taste buds contain the receptors for taste. They are located around the small structures on the upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, upper esophagus and epiglottis, which are called papillae. These structures are involved in detecting the five known elements of taste perception: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami (a savory taste). On average, the human tongue has 3,000 to 10,000 taste buds. The patients I work with struggle the most with reducing salt (sodium) intake without sacrificing flavor. Here are some tips to "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" that will make your taste buds smile!
Marinate chicken breasts or pork chops in lemon juice, orange juice or wine.
Roll fish in sesame seeds before baking.
Spice up beef with a mixture of onion, peppers, sage and thyme.
Toss in a few fruits and vegetables, such as dried apricots, raisins, red pepper or yellow pepper for extra flavor.
Simmer carrots in cinnamon and nutmeg.
Sprinkle some dill and parsley onto potatoes before roasting.
Add a dash of chili powder to corn.
Toss your pasta with fresh chopped garlic.
Replace salted butter with unsalted butter.
When cooking with cheese, opt for fresh mozzarella or cheeses labeled "low-sodium."
Try a commercial salt-free seasoning blend (such as Mrs. Dash), or make your own mix with this recipe from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Spice Blend: (makes about 1/3 cup): 5 teaspoons onion powder, 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 2 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper and 1/4 teaspoons celery seed.
If you aren't a very adventurous cook or just don't know where to start, here is a table of seasonings that go well with each type of food.
Basil, bay leaf, caraway, curry, dill, dry mustard, garlic, grape jelly, green pepper, mace, marjoram, mushrooms (fresh), nutmeg, onion or onion powder, parsley, pepper, rosemary and sage.
Basil, cloves, cranberries, mace, mushrooms (fresh), nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pineapple, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, tomato and turmeric.
Chervil, curry, dill, dry mustard, garlic or garlic powder, green pepper, jelly, mushrooms (fresh), nutmeg, onion powder, paprika, parsley, rosemary, tarragon and tomato.
Basil, bay leaf, chervil, curry, dill, dry mustard, green pepper, lemon juice, marjoram, mushrooms (fresh), paprika, pepper, tarragon, tomato and turmeric.
Cloves, curry, dill, garlic or garlic powder, mace, mint, mint jelly, onion, oregano, parsley, pineapple, rosemary, tarragon and thyme.
Applesauce, basil, caraway, chives, cloves, garlic or garlic powder, onion or onion powder, rosemary and thyme.
Apricots, basil, bay leaf, currant jelly, curry, ginger, marjoram, mushrooms (fresh), oregano and paprika.
Basil, dill, garlic or garlic powder, ginger, lemon juice, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, onion or onion powder, tarragon, tomato, sugar or sugar substitute, salt-free salad dressing and vinegar.
Allspice, anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, vanilla extract and other extracts.
Good luck on your adventure of reducing sodium and spicing up the flavor of your food!
(Kayla Cole is an outpatient dietitian at Trinity Health and president of the Minot District Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)