How to spice up your life with food
How to spice up your life with food“Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” William Cowper Are you in a culinary rut? Do you find yourself buying the same foods each week out of habit? Maybe you even have a weekly meal plan that never varies? Fish on Fridays, roast on Sundays and so on. If that sounds like you, then STOP IT! It’s boring and you are not doing yourself any favors.
Why we all need varietyThere are many reasons why we tend to eat the same foods all the time. For example, we might do it for convenience or cost-saving. Or, maybe we simply prefer to stick to our favorite cultural cuisine. It is not always a bad thing providing we still get good nutritional diversity. Sometimes, though, dietary ruts can be symptomatic of our mental or emotional state. Repetitive daily habits could reflect an underlying fear of change or of the unfamiliar. Some people with low self-esteem may lack the confidence to try new things or make decisions so they stay safe within their comfort zones. If you have difficulty changing your behavioral patterns, it may help to address your thoughts and emotions surrounding them.
Spice it upHaving variety in your life helps to keep it interesting. Some people need lots of variety and excitement while others prefer more predictability and calmness. There are no rights or wrongs here. What we do know is when we learn something new or do something differently, our minds develop new neural pathways and connections. As we age, the more connections we have, the more likely we are to maintain our mental agility.
Health benefits of having variety in your dietFoods have different kinds of nutrients. If you don’t have enough diversity in your diet, you may be lacking key nutrients. Eating a broad range of foods exposes you to a wider range of vitamins and minerals – essential for all our body’s needs, such as energy, skin and hair regeneration and immunity. A balanced diet is one that includes an assortment of foods from each of the food groups (in the recommended amounts) each day. These are:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Fats and sugars
Tips for creating a varied dietCreating variety in your daily diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some suggestions you can try to help keep things interesting and appealing.
Include a mix of different texturesTextures can really add to our enjoyment of food. Think about the fibers in a piece of steak, the tiny buds of a floret of broccoli or the lightness and crunchiness of popcorn. Foods to try for texture could include seafood, asparagus, tacos, flat breads, soups and smoothies. Even the humble egg can provide different textures depending on how it is cooked.
Rediscover flavorSome people may be reluctant to try unfamiliar foods or cuisines due to concerns that the flavors or ingredients might disagree with them. Unless you have a specific food allergy or intolerance, though, the best way to know for sure is to try things for yourself. You don’t have to go overboard and try everything at once. Maybe include one or two unfamiliar ingredients next time you go shopping. If you buy fresh foods straight from a vendor (such as a grocer, stall-holder or butcher) ask for their tips on how to cook and use the products you buy. Other suggestions include using an assortment of herbs, spices and sauces or incorporating the ones you know into different dishes.
Try different cooking methodsDo you tend to use the same cooking methods all the time? Even just changing how you cook everyday foods like carrots or chicken can make a big difference to the final flavor and texture. Experiment with methods such as:
SubstituteAdd variety to your favorite meals by substituting certain staples with similar but more unique ones. For example, swap broccoli for Chinese broccoli, add celery root to mashed potatoes, make noodles from long strips of zucchini or use quinoa instead of rice.
Involve other peopleGetting others involved in preparing a meal can be lots of fun (providing you all get along). You can pick up tips from each other. Ask your friends to provide different courses for dinner, cook a meal with your partner or teach your children to make a family favorite – they may all have unique ideas to add to yours.
Discover new recipesFind new dishes to try through:
- Swapping recipes with your friends.
- Buying or borrowing an array of cookbooks.
- Searching the internet.