Stuck in a food rut? If so, you’re not alone.
Clients ask me all the time about new food and meal ideas. And to be honest, I struggle with this food issue too! It’s great to drink a smoothie for breakfast every morning and a salad for lunch every afternoon, but sometimes a girl’s gotta live a little! After all, variety is the spice of life 🙂 That’s why today, I wanted to take a moment and talk about some of my favorite ingredients to jazz up meals. Some of them you might have heard of, and some of them you might already be incorporating into your diet (which if so, great!). Bottom line, these are all foods that have amazing health benefits and taste awesome. Keep scrolling for some healthy, cool, non-boring foods you need in your diet today!
1. Pomegranate Molasses
Who would have thought pomegranate molasses even existed? I’ll admit that when I first heard about this ingredient I was a little skeptical. But then I learned that some of my favorite Iranian dishes (like fesenjan) use pomegranate molasses, and it’s a staple in a lot of Middle Eastern dishes. Bobby Flay is also known for being a big fan of this ingredient because of its unique play on sweet and sour.
Not sure how to use pomegranate molasses or where you can get it? No worries, because frankly I didn’t know either. Start simple by adding pomegranate molasses to homemade salad dressings. You can also add it to a marinade for grilled/baked meats. My parents are actually fond of drizzling a little on burgers during cookouts. Try ordering this unique pantry staple online, or visiting an international/Middle Eastern food store. Remember, pomegranates are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. You can certainly reap some of the health benefits when adding this ingredient into your diet.
This is another staple that honestly I’ve been obsessed with for a while. Growing up in a Persian family, saffron was a spice that was constantly used in our kitchen. We used it in rice dishes, in soups and stews, and even in desserts. I learned later that saffron costs ounce for ounce more than gold! I usually still keep a good amount in my kitchen, but have developed a MUCH lighter hand when using it.
This aromatic spice and its wonderful fragrance can be worked into a variety of soups, stews, and rice dishes. Besides its unique flavor and color, it’s also known for being rich in antioxidants. So next time you’re feeling a little blah when making dinner, add a pinch of saffron to your grain bowl to jazz things up!
3. Herb de Provence
This food might not seem like anything new, but it certainly needs a revival. Herb de Provence (HDP) was all the rage in the 90’s when fancy French food was grazing just about every fine dining restaurant in the country. I might not want to bring all the fancy French food back (I prefer my bistro eats), but I certainly don’t have a problem with Herb de Provence. In fact, I really like it!
Photo Credit: Bottine Aux Herbes
For those of you who don’t know, Herb de Provence is a spice spend traditionally made in the south of France, notably Provence. You can buy if off the shelf or be super DIY and try this Martha Stewart recipe. The key to HDP is its use of lavender. Great HDP blends will have a distinctive lavender fragrance that really differentiates it from the regular spice blends you buy at the grocery.
Try adding HDP in tomato-based dishes, veggie dishes, chicken dishes, and even salad dressings. My healthy coq au vin makes excellent use of this awesome spice blend J
4. Wine (Because Yes Wine!)
I’m sure many of you are either super excited or super confused to find wine on my list of cool, healthy, and non-boring foods. I honestly used to think that it wasn’t possible to drink on the reg and live a healthy life. While I still do believe that to lose weight you need to seriously cut back on alcohol (if not abstain from it for a while), I like the health benefits of something like red wine and do like to incorporate it into my cooking.
Red wine is great in soups and stews. I’m notorious for adding a little of it in my homemade turkey Bolognese sauce (recipe coming soon!). It’s a great way to boost flavor and antioxidant content in many different dishes. Plus let’s be honest, we all feel a little more grown up when we cook with wine!
Photo Credit: AARP
5. Collagen Powder
This last one isn’t a food per say, but a supplement that is very near and dear to my heart. I’m always a little weary of supplements, and I won’t really take them unless there is a lot of buzz or evidence around a supplement. But after my hip surgery this summer (don’t ask lol), I was desperate for anything and everything to help with joint and bone health. Enter collagen powder.
Who knew that one little scoop was the secret to better joint and bone health? I can’t prove that I’m better by any means from this supplement, but I like to think that I facilitated my healing and recovered much quicker from this surgery compared to not taking it. I also noticed an improvement in the quality and texture of my skin, hair, and nails.
Collagen doesn’t have any flavors per say, but depending on your food and nutrition needs that could be great! I throw some in my morning kefir smoothie every day and it really helps me start my day right.
Photo Credit: AOL
From time to time, we all get stuck in a food rut. That’s why it’s so important to be working different foods, spices, cultures, and cuisines into your healthy diet from time to time. Getting bored with our health routines can lead us to fall off the bandwagon now and again, and we know how much it sucks to get back into a healthy groove all over again. Try adding these special, exotic foods into your diet and let me know how it goes!