National Nutrition Month

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

March 11, 2014

One of my favorite things about changing the calendar over from February to March (besides the fact that spring is around the corner) is that March is National Nutrition Month! Being a dietitian, it’s great to have a whole month dedicated to promoting ways to enhance well-being through healthier eating. This year’s theme is entitled “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”. This conveys the message that “good for you” foods can satisfy the palate, not just enhance our health. Research shows taste is the primary driver of our food choices and the goal for this year’s campaign is to let folks know that making healthier foods taste great is not difficult to achieve. I will carry this theme one step further and argue that once the switch is made to eating foods that more closely resemble their natural state, and you move away from the highly processed, fast, and calorie-dense convenient foods, you will discover that you can’t go back to your old ways! “Real” taste, flavor, and satisfaction abound when you eat right, and the bonus is you feel better too!

In the not too distant past, healthy eating conjured up images of dry, flavorless, unappealing dishes. If that describes your mind-set, it’s time to chuck that out and give the “healthier” stuff another chance. The world of food and cooking has changed significantly with the advent of the internet and social media. Healthy cooking websites, blogs, apps, and recipe sites abound. People are discovering that nutritious meals are satisfying and can be easily incorporated into their daily routine.

How can you ensure better taste without all the excess fat and calories? Start with these tips from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • To maximize food's flavor and nutrition, start with high-quality ingredients at their peak freshness.
  • Handle and store foods properly, to retain flavor, vitamins and minerals.
  • Don’t overcook! Cook to retain nutrients, color, texture, and overall appeal.
  • Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry, and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan-searing, grilling or broiling. These cooking techniques brown meat and add flavor.
  • Grill or roast veggies in a very hot (450° F) oven or grill for a sweet, smoky flavor. Before popping them into the oven, brush or spray lightly with oil and sprinkle with herbs.
  • Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sugar flavor by cooking them slowly over low heat in a small amount of oil. Use them to make a rich, dark sauce for meat or poultry.
  • Pep it up with peppers! Use red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties—sweet, hot and dried. Roasted peppers in the jar save time and work well too!
  • Add a dash of hot pepper sauce or red pepper flakes if you like it extra spicy.
  • Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel: lemon, lime or orange. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
  • Use small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors like pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
  • Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.
  • Add wine to provide additional flavor and enhance taste.

Go ahead, give a healthier eating style a chance and see if you don’t “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”. It’s fun, rewarding, and will spice up your life in more ways than one!

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here.

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