Healthy Food Tastes Great

If you have ever asked yourself “Why is healthy food so dull?” you are not alone. Many times I have heard people say “If it tastes good it must be bad for me”.  This does not have to be the case as you will read below.    Medical author Andrew Weil believes some Dietitians, Nutritionists and the writers of diet books do not really like food or do not derive significant pleasure from eating.  As a Dietitian, I was initially shocked by such a discriminating statement.

Of course I love food, I’ve made a career out of it!  

After some more careful thought, I realize there may be some truth in this statement.  Different people derive different pleasures out of eating.  As I Dietitian I derive pleasure not only from the flavor but also from knowing how the food affects my body.    If I had to break it down I may get 60% of the pleasure from the taste, 20% knowing it’s good for me and another 20% for the surroundings such as how it looks, where it was grown and the occasion for eating.   Luckily I married a man who would never even consider breaking down the pleasure of food into percentages.  My husband is a true fan of flavour. I believe I am a better Dietitian because I can see food through his eyes.  In his words, he would rather not eat than eat something dry and tasteless.   Together we have cooked and compromised and come up with what I believe is a very balanced approach to pleasurable eating.

 The first few times my husband made his “famous” meatball recipe I was the equivalent of a “back seat” chef peering over his shoulder…”Do you really need all that oil? Is that extra lean ground beef?  The end result was always fabulous and I eventually learned not to watch.   He has slowly adapted to use less oil, broils instead of frying and has even tried egg whites instead of whole eggs.  You can’t tell the difference and although he might not admit it, I think he does derive some pleasure from knowing it is better for us.   With many foods, your tastes will change as you change your eating habits.  As you slowly reduce your salt intake, salty foods start to taste too strong.  The same is true for sugary and high-fat foods.  Try this experiment.  If you drink juice each morning, try diluting it each week with a small amount of water.  By the time you reach half juice, half water you will find normal fruit juice tastes too sweet.  Many people also report the switch from whole milk down to skim milk is much easier if you take it one percentage at a time.  Even if you only make it to 1 percent milk you will most likely find whole milk tastes like cream.    

It is important to remember that healthy food can be just as pleasurable as decadent food – it may just take a bit more creativity and a little time to adjust your tastes.   Here is a family recipe for steak that is a true balance between health and flavour.   It is sure to please even the most critical palate.  For the nutrition minded, you’ll be happy to know flank steak is one of the leaner cuts and cutting it thinly across the grain means a small portion goes a long way.   It tastes great with garlic mashed potatoes, greek salad (with low fat feta of course) and steamed asparagus.  

Fabulous Flank Steak Marinade:  

Mix 1/4 cup each of oil, soy sauce and honey.  
Add 2 Tbs vinegar
1 minced clove garlic
1 tsp ground ginger (or fresh ginger) and 1-2 chopped green onions (tops and bottoms)
Mix well and pour over a scored flank steak (300-600grams)  
Refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 20 minutes.  Barbeque or broil to desired doneness
Slice thinly against the grain and serve with marinade (boil marinade before serving).

Vegetarians in the house? Slice extra firm tofu into 1/4 inch slabs. Marinate in a separate dish using same marinade recipe. Grill for 5 minutes per side on high heat. Meanwhile heat marinade with 1/4 tsp corn starch to thicken. Serve tofu tossed in thickened marinade and sesame seeds - optional

Tastes great and good for you. Enjoy!