March is National Nutrition Month® – Savor the Flavor of Eating Right
For National Nutrition Month, our culinary teams at our facilities are going to be exploring different types Herbs and Spices to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.
Discover new and exciting tastes while trimming fat and sodium from your cooking. For National Nutrition Month®, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to experiment with new combinations of herbs and spices as you “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”
“Today’s popular cuisine embraces a wide world of flavors that you can enjoy in all sorts of combinations, while still following a healthful eating pattern,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Libby Mills.
It’s worthwhile to note the difference between herbs and spices, Mills says. “Herbs, like basil and oregano, grow in temperate climates and are the fragrant leaves of plants. Spices, like cumin and paprika, grow in tropical areas and come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds and stems of plants and trees.”
Innovative use of herbs and spices offers a real flavor advantage, especially if your goal is to cook with less fat and sodium. “While the exact types of herbs and spices depends on the cuisine, every culture has its traditional favorites,” Mills says.
Mills offers a top ten list of popular ethnic cuisines and the flavors associated with them:
- China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
- France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
- Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
- Hungary: Onion, paprika
- India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
- Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
- Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
- Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
- Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
- West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili.
In addition, Mills recommends keeping a basic assortment of dried herbs and spices on hand for all types of cooking: oregano, garlic powder, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, Italian herb seasoning blend, thyme and rosemary.
“Then, explore new flavors beyond these basics with curry powder, turmeric, cumin, clove and bay leaf and experiment with new flavor combinations. Remember to store dried herbs and spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry,” Mills says.
For National Nutrition Month® 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging everyone to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” by taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to your life.
“Food nourishes your body and provides necessary fuel to help you thrive and fight disease,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristen Gradney. “Food is also a source of pleasure and enjoyment. ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’ by taking time to enjoy healthy foods and all the happiness they bring to your life.”
Enjoy Food Traditions and Social Experiences
There is an obvious social component to food. Whether a nightly family dinner, special holiday occasion or social gathering, food often plays a central role.
“Research indicates that family meals promote healthier eating and strengthen family relationships,” Gradney says. “Prioritize family meals and enjoy the food traditions that accompany any type of social gathering.”
Appreciate Foods Pleasures and Flavors
Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, try following this tip to help you savor the flavor of your food: Eat slowly.
“Eat one bite at a time, and focus on the different flavors and textures,” Gradney says. “Stop and take time between bites. Eating slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food, but it can also help you eat less by giving your stomach time to tell your brain that you are full.”
Develop a Mindful Eating Pattern
How, when, why and where you eat are just as important as what you eat. Being a mindful eater can help you reset both your body and your mind and lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
“Think about where you eat the majority of your meals,” Gradney says. “Many eat lunch at their desks or dinner in front of the television. Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to find a nice place to mindfully eat instead of multitasking through your meals.”
Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
“A healthy lifestyle is much more than choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Gradney says. “It’s also essential to make informed food choices based on your individual health and nutrient needs. A registered dietitian nutritionist can educate you and guide your food choices while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind. RDNs are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you can use.”