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Simple Steps for Liking Healthy Food

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You probably know what a healthy diet should be like.

However, eating healthy can be much more difficult when you are used to consuming a lot of processed foods. If so, you may even find nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables unattractive.

Retraining your palate to enjoy more nutritious, minimally processed foods is key to a healthy diet.

Fortunately, you can instantly learn to love nutritious foods that will improve your diet and health.

Here are 7 simple strategies to help retrain your taste buds and eat healthier foods.

The practice of mindful eating involves slowing down, listening to your body, and paying close attention to what your food looks, smells, and tastes like.

Mindful eating is linked to several health benefits and can be an effective way to prevent binge eating and weight gain (1).

Also, it can help you enjoy your meals more and appreciate healthy, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

To start, minimize external distractions during meals by turning off the TV and putting your phone away. Then slow down the food and thoroughly chew each bite to enjoy the dish.

Taking small breaks can help you listen to your body’s feelings of hunger and fullness. Recognizing when you are hungry or when you are full can, in turn, help you avoid overeating.

One of the best ways to retrain your taste buds is to add flavorful new ingredients to your weekly menu.

For example, using unfamiliar spices like tarragon, sage, turmeric, fenugreek, and rosemary can enhance the flavor of healthy foods that you don’t normally enjoy, including vegetables, legumes, or lean sources of protein.

Trying out new foods and condiments can also make it easier to reduce your sugar and salt intake, thereby improving your overall nutritional quality.

It can also help you discover lots of new, nutritious ingredients.

In addition to spices, you can try colorful fruits like rambutan or papaya, as well as unique vegetables like daikon, taro, sunchokes, fiddleheads and jicama.

One of my favorite ways to add variety to my own diet is to get an interesting new ingredient from the grocery store each week and then find a couple of complementary recipes to try throughout the week.

Gradually cutting down on your processed foods is a great way to retrain your taste buds and include fresh ingredients in your diet.

Slowly avoiding processed foods can also be more sustainable than simply removing them from the menu at once. That’s because research shows that cutting out certain foods can increase your short-term cravings (2, 3).

Start by reducing your intake of chips, cookies, candy, processed meats, and packaged desserts. You can replace them with healthier alternatives, including treats like dark chocolate and snacks like hummus, vegetable chips, and fresh fruit.

You may want to focus on just an ingredient or two a week to gradually reduce your processed food intake.

On your next meal, try cleaning your palate a few times to enjoy the unique taste of each ingredient.

An easy option is to take a sip of water between bites of different foods instead of switching between side dishes, main dishes, or desserts during the meal.

Bread, crackers, and fruit can also help cleanse your taste buds and make it easier to enjoy every single part of your meal.

In order to retrain your taste buds, reducing your intake of sodium and added sugars is critical.

Nonetheless, many restaurant meals and store-bought foods are high in sodium and sugar.

Cooking at home puts you in control of everything on your plate so you can leave out the extra sugar and salt in place of healthier options.

In addition, home cooking allows you to get creative and add new, nutritious ingredients to your diet.

To get you started, try selecting a few recipes per week that you can make at home. Alternatively, you can add a tasty touch to your favorite restaurant dishes by cooking them at home.

Soda is loaded with sugar and calories as well as numerous additives and other unhealthy ingredients.

If you’re in the mood for lemonade, swap it out for healthy alternatives like coffee, coconut water, unsweetened iced tea, or water with fresh fruit.

For something bubbly, bottled water, seltzer, and kombucha are great options.

Lots of simple food swaps can help you avoid junk food without feeling disadvantaged.

For example, vegetable chips made from ingredients like kale, beets, or carrots are an easy substitute for store-bought potato chips.

You can also swap microwave popcorn, which is often loaded with fat, calories, and salt, for air-popped popcorn and flavor it at home with your favorite herbs and spices.

Likewise, refined grains like white rice, white bread, and white pasta can be swapped out for whole grains to add extra fiber to your diet.

Finally, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit, yogurt, or some dark chocolate instead of sugary foods like cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, and candy.

Healthy diets, while easy to imagine, can be difficult to implement if you are used to consuming processed foods high in salt and sugar.

Retraining your palate and learning to enjoy nutritious foods will make it much easier to maintain a balanced diet.

There are numerous simple strategies that can help you support both your diet and your health.

Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Q&A With Nicole-Taylor’s Chef Joe Kalil – Indianapolis Monthly

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Joe Kalil, Executive Chef at Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta Market.


After a career
Beginning at the legendary Carriage House in South Bend, it has included cooking stints in New England, at the Indy and La Mans racing series, at the Woodland Country Club and most recently as Executive Chef at the busy Rick’s Cafe Boatyard on the waterfront -traveling chef Joe Kalil is working again with his friend and mentor Tony Hanslits together. He handles some of the hugely popular private dinners and helps expand the retail offering at SoBro gourmet shop Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta Market. And while he’s still working hard and learning new techniques, the more relaxed pace of the retail business gives him time to reflect on the wisdom he’s gained from his decades in the culinary world, as well as how he’s still learning and growing as a chef .

They started out in South Bend’s Carriage House (now The Carriage House Dining Room & Garden), which was surprisingly modern for its time. How did you get a job there?

I was already working as a dishwasher at another restaurant, the Louvered Door, just to earn extra money to buy a car. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, but I was almost a junior and it was time to plan my future. Then one day there was a careers fair at my high school, and Peter George (the longtime local restaurateur and real estate agent) himself was there to represent his mother’s restaurant, The Carriage House. He said I should consider working there. A few months passed and I went to the restaurant to get a gift card and Peter remembered me. I came a few weeks later. tony [Hanslits] was actually the chef there. That was before there was anything really new or interesting when it came to food, even in Indy. But Hanslits and George made everything fresh and bought local stuff before it was trendy or farm to table. It was a great place to be introduced to the industry.

Food was definitely something you already had a taste for?

I’m half Polish and half Lebanese, so food was definitely a big part of my upbringing. Like a lot of South Bend folks, we’ve made loads of pierogi, mostly just cheese and scallions, but sometimes sauerkraut too. But food was mostly just something I was with a lot, not something I did. I watched my Lebanese grandmother sitting in a chair preparing oriental breads and kibbeh, stuffed vine leaves and baklava. She always had to get that special kind of grated wheat from nearby Michigan that had just the right grind. I wish I had learned more from her recipes or written down more of them.

Shortly thereafter, you went to cookery school at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. You’ve already had some pretty in-depth experience, so was that crucial to your career?

I stayed a year after high school before going to culinary school in New England. Tony actually went to Ohio for a job, and Peter was on his way to Indy to open the original Peter’s in Fountain Square. I don’t think cooking degrees are essential, but they look good on a resume and any experience is good. But Tony had already shown me so many things in a thorough and leisurely manner that I got through my first year at Johnson and Wales in no time. I’ve been filleting salmon for months while the other students were doing it for the first time. Going east got me a job at the Cafe in the Barn just across the border in Massachusetts, which was set up a bit like Nicole-Taylor’s, with a counter in front. This was my first catering experience and we did catering for a performance of The Nutcracker Suite in Boston which was great. This really gave me some experience for a lot of the hospitality and hotel jobs that I would do later.

Finally, you have worked as a corporate chef for hospitality groups at various Indy and NASCAR racing series. How was that different from the restaurant?

I traveled from Portland to Detroit between races, so understanding local foods and what I can source in different parts of the country really helped me. It all started when I was working at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Motel (later Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort and Inn). This was NASCAR’s first year. I was at the track speaking to a regular customer who was starting a hospitality service for Dan Gurney’s race team. This was definitely a change as we did buffets for the racers and the team and brought two to three meals a day to the crews working on the cars. The riders had all sorts of dietary needs such as high-carb, low-salt, high-protein diets. I made a lot of pasta. A driver wanted specific brands which I had to source and keep with us. But traveling so much with the teams meant I knew which other team chefs to split orders with, or where there were farmers markets and places to purchase certain ingredients. For example, when we were in Vancouver, we did a menu with a lot of seafood. It was a great training, because as a chef you want to find out about regional and local foods and adapt your kitchen accordingly.

After returning to Indy, you worked at Woodland Country Club for almost 12 years and then at Rick’s Cafe Boatyard on Eagle Creek Reservoir for several years. Why did you make the switch and what is it like working with Tony Hanslits again?

At the country club, and especially at Rick’s, I wasn’t on the line that much. I made sure we had all the produce and put out fires. The pandemic has been particularly challenging as we have had to reduce our menu at Rick’s to about half of what we normally had. Seafood availability was particularly difficult. I ordered 300 pounds of catfish (we used to order almost 1,000 pounds) and got 75. I’ve had a source call me every now and then and I’ll take whatever they have. Large scallops became unaffordable and I couldn’t charge customers enough to recoup my costs. So that took its toll. I was always in touch with Tony and Rosa (Rosa Rulli Hanslits) and they wanted to grow Nicole-Taylor’s. They offer private dinners that sell out for a whole year in just three days. They both brought me in to help with retail, but also to take some of the meals off Tony’s shoulders. Unlike my jobs in the past, it’s pretty much free reign. It’s like people coming to your house. I’m on my home field.

What did you bring to the dinners and what are some of the challenges of cooking live in front of an audience?

Tony hates making desserts so I made the desserts for some of his meals and also for the market, a fig and pear tart or a flourless chocolate cake with Calabrian chilies. I also do a Frangelico semifreddo. People are much more knowledgeable about food and it’s fun to be able to set what they want upfront but then have some freedom on dinner nights to do what I want. But it can be a little jarring at times. At one of the dinners I had a frying pan that I had in the oven and I gripped the handle with my bare hand. Then the pan started falling, so I had to grab it again. I had to save my sauce. The guests were amazed that I could do that, and it’s now become a little running gag.

What advice would you give to a young person entering the restaurant world?

I’d tell them to find a place that makes homemade food and just dive in. Put your heart and soul into it. Finding a good mentor also helps. When I first started, Tony actually tried to talk me out of it for the first two months, telling me that the work was grueling, that chefs were prone to all sorts of personal and relationship problems. But he was just letting me know what I was getting myself into. He told me if I was really serious about it I should do it right and he showed me everything. I would tell a younger person to give it a try if at the end of the day they still like it. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have as long as you have a passion for it.

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From tacos to wings, learning to cook with plant-based meats

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It’s that time of year when many people decide to eat less meat. The “whys” are many: sustainability and concern for the planet, health considerations, ethical concerns about dealing with animals.

An increasingly popular option is “plant-based meat,” which can be found in meat aisles from grocery stores to restaurants.

These products aim to mimic meat in taste, texture, look and smell and the similarities are now quite impressive. The ingredients usually include a plant-based protein, such as soy or pea, and sometimes other beans, wheat, or potatoes.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are the two monster names in this space, but there are dozens of brands out there. In the fresh food aisles of grocery stores, plant-based options focus on ground beef, burger patties, meatballs, and sausage. Freezer aisles have that, as well as many products designed to replicate specific dishes, like chicken nuggets, pot pies, or stir-fries.

So, how to cook at home with these products?

“The vegetarian meat is an easy substitute,” says Angela Campbell, a pescetarian living in Portland, Maine, who relies on plant-based meats to enhance her cooking. She says she can use the ground beef and imitation sausage 1:1 in recipes.

They can be used in pasta sauces, stir-fries, casseroles, fajitas, etc.

Like ground beef, plant-based crumbles are perishable, so treat them like ground beef, use within a few days, and cook thoroughly.

Many of them cook faster than their meat counterparts and seem more sensitive to precise cooking times; the packages often warn against undercooking or overcooking. So you might want to add them towards the end of preparing a dish. Most brand websites offer recipes.

Campbell says she’s had less success with the “chicken” products.

“You can’t reproduce long-simmered chicken dishes or whole-breasted dishes,” she says. “The (plant-based) chicken generally tastes best in a pan or with a separately prepared sauce. The chicken may brown, but nothing will crisp up.”

Cheyenne Cohen, a food photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, follows a vegan diet at home and says, “When I use plant-based meat, I’m never trying to replicate a meat meal perfectly. I want to learn the texture and overall flavor of each brand/variety and then experiment with preparation and seasoning until I find something that works well.”

She loves using soy crumbles as taco meat or in any other way you’d normally use ground beef, and says it’s generally easy to make the swap.

Rather than placing the meat substitutes at the center of the dish, Cohen finds them “a good recipe ingredient,” just one component.

Jade Wong, owner of Red Bamboo in New York City, has been running restaurants specializing in plant-based meats for 20 years. She says her menu caters to vegetarians and vegans looking for comfort food.

“Do you really want a salad on a cold winter’s day? Or would you rather have a chicken parmesan hero or a burger?” says Wong.

Red Bamboo makes its own plant-based meat products (100% vegetarian and 100% vegan) and sells them wholesale to other restaurants. Wong notes that many store-bought plant-based meats are pre-cooked, so they just need to be heated.

She suggests marinating soy burger patties in your favorite marinade before quickly searing them on a griddle. And cooking soy-based meat substitutes on a ridged grill pan offers the appeal of traditional grilled meat dishes.

Crumbled “sausage,” says Wong, is great as a pizza topping or, when sautéed and mixed with vegetables, as an accompaniment to pasta dishes, perhaps along with sauce and condiments.

At the restaurant, they get more creative, offering options like grilled buffalo wings, which are soy-based “chicken” wrapped in tofu (they even stick a stick in the wings to mimic the bone).

Some plant-based products are like blank slates, destined to be used in your favorite recipes. Others are prepared in a heat-and-eat manner.

Gardein has a strong presence in the frozen food department, known for its “chik’n” products; They also make homemade beefless tips that you can skewer, sauté, or stir-fry, and pork-free sweet and sour bites. Before the Butcher makes seasoned, plant-based ground meat products and patties with interesting flavor profiles like roast turkey burgers. They also make a lower-priced line of burgers under the Mainstream name, which aims to compete with beef patties not only in taste but also in price.

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Ming Tsai recently launched a line of Ming’s Bings, a treat bonanza made from ground, plant-based meats, vegetables, cheese and assorted spices, encased in brown rice paper and crispy when baked.

Some plant-based meat products are vegan, some vegetarian, some gluten-free, some dairy-free; If you have feeding problems, read the packaging carefully.

___

Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks that focus on family-friendly cooking, Dinner Solved!. and The Mama 100 Cookbook. She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

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Celebrating Veganuary: Heart-and planet-healthy eating

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To set the momentum for the coming months, it’s important to start talking about healthy eating right at the start of the year. And a portmanteau of January and vegan, Veganuary, a global pledge to adopt a plant-based lifestyle for 31 days, does the same. This global movement is an initiative by the UK-based charity of the same name to promote vegan diets for a better planet. The movement, which was officially launched in India in December 2019, has garnered widespread interest from people across the country. A recent survey by YouGov, a market research and data analytics firm, showed that 65% of Indians are interested in replacing meat with plant-based options in 2022.

Several brands have launched vegan menus to meet the demands. “There is no denying that the pandemic has made people more aware of the consequences of their lifestyle choices on their immunity, health, mental and physical well-being. Veganism is a long-term lifestyle and cannot be limited to just one January. To cater to this new trend, we have launched a plant-based chicken biryani,” says Mohammed Bhol, chef and co-founder of Charcoal Eats. Vegan meat is made from ingredients like plant-based protein, soy, or wheat, and has the flavor and texture of real meat. “Plant-based keema is made from soy. From the keema we make kofta balls. And these mock meatballs are used in the biryani,” adds Bhol.

Healthy Vegan Jackfruit Tacos (Photo: Shutterstock)

Vegan food is considered the cleanest of all diets and isn’t lacking in flavor or variety. Uday Malhotra, executive chef and co-founder of Kneed, a bakery that operates on a cloud kitchen model, says, “We make homemade breads, rolls, cereal, nut butters, dips, hummus, and energy bars that are 100% plant-based products. Veganism is one of the dominant trends of 2022.” However, vegan baking is time-consuming and technical in terms of temperature and ingredients used. “Because vegan products don’t use dairy or eggs, the recipes formulated are time and temperature sensitive,” adds Malhotra, who suggests using Belgian dark chocolate for chocolate bread and banneton baskets to shape gluten-free loaves.

Raw Vegan Blueberry Cashew Cake (Photo: Shutterstock)

Cakes are another food category that is in high demand for vegan options. For vegan cakes, you can substitute flaxseed, ripe bananas, or aquafaba for eggs. Instead of milk, use almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk. “I suggest only using one substitute as too many of these will ruin the end product,” says Atifa Nazir Ahanger of The Boho Baker, which offers vegan cakes, cupcakes, breads and cookies. For those trying a vegan diet for the first time, it’s easier to start with substitutes like plant-based milk, nut butters like peanut butter, cashew butter, and cheese substitutes.

This movement has also seen vegan restaurants grow in popularity. “As a trend, Veganuary helps us support people in making the switch to a vegan diet. The right taste is the first step. Vegan food can be made equally tasty by appropriate swaps. We use coconut cream for our cream-based recipes. For Japanese soba noodles, we use gluten-free soba noodles, homemade peanut butter sauce, button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, zucchini, galangal, soy sauce and coconut milk,” says Rajender Chabotra, Executive Chef at Getafix Café. The restaurant also offers buckwheat pancakes, barley and bok choi bowl meals, among other vegan options.

Cauliflower Moilee is a healthy vegan recipe

Cauliflower Moilee Recipe

ingredients

Cauliflower: 1

carrot: 1

Coconut Oil: 2 tbsp

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp

Curry leaves: 10-14

Onion: 2

Ginger: 1 inch

Garlic: 12-15 pieces

Tomatoes: 3

Beans: 8-10

Green chilies: 3 to 4

Chili power, turmeric powder and cumin powder: 1 tsp each

Tamarind pulp, coconut cream: ¼ cup

Coconut milk: 1 cup

method

Heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaf and let it bubble.

Chop the onions, ginger and garlic in a blender and add the paste to the oil. Saute this for five to seven minutes.

Once the onion paste is light golden, add mashed tomatoes ground in a blender, whole green chillies, dry spices, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and cumin powder and salt to taste.

Cook this mixture until you see the oil separate.

Add the tamarind pulp, coconut milk and coconut cream and stir.

Blanch the carrot, cauliflower, and beans to add to the sauce.

Cook until boiling and serve hot with steamed rice or millet.

Recipe by chef Natasha Gandhi

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ruchika Garg writes about arts and culture for the daily supplement Entertainment & Lifestyle, HT City
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