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5 Easy Tweaks to Upgrade Your Healthy Meals

April 15, 2024

You pile on the veggies, you avoid excess sugar and processed foods — you’ve got this healthy-eating thing down. So now that you’ve got the foundation in place, what can you do to give your healthy meals a glow-up, without spending a ton more time and money? These tips and simple habits can give you just the boost you need.

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1. Use more herbs and spices

To make your meals more interesting, look no further than your fridge and spice rack. Not only do herbs and spices taste amazing, they also add tons of nutrients and can improve heart health, fight inflammation, boost immunity, and more. Here are some ways to use herbs and spices to upgrade your healthy meals:

  • Use more of an herb or spice than a recipe calls for. Even just a quarter teaspoon. If there are fresh herbs in a recipe, sprinkle more on top after cooking.
  • Switch spices. Look at the spices you always use, and see if you can switch it up. It depends somewhat on the recipe, but sometimes you can use cardamom instead of ginger, Italian seasoning instead of dried oregano, or rosemary instead of thyme. Buy spice blends, like curry powder, za’atar, and herbs de Provence, and use them in your dishes. The more variety of herbs and spices, the more nutrients you get.
  • Toss them into unexpected places — add fresh herbs to smoothies and treats, for example.

2. Sprinkle on good salt

They’re all called “salt,” but there are many different types — and the one you use can make a real difference in your cooking. (Even among brands of kosher salt, for example, the size and density of the granules varies.) Many pros recommend kosher salt; we tend to use fine sea salt for most cooking. Though there isn’t a right or wrong choice in terms of types of salt, we steer clear of iodized salt. It’s highly processed and usually contains anti-caking agents; plus, most of us get plenty of iodine in regular foods such as fish, eggs, dairy, garlic, and spinach.

3. Be generous with healthy fats

Fats can make meals more satisfying and delicious, and they also have numerous health benefits, including helping your body absorb certain nutrients better (like vitamins A, E, D and K), boosting gut health, aiding in blood sugar control, and more.

Cook with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, and grass-fed ghee; drizzle olive oil on steamed vegetables; add avocado to salads and grain bowls; and incorporate foods with healthy fats into your snacks, such as smoked or canned wild salmon, hard-cooked eggs, and nuts.

4. Balance flavors

Speaking of salt, when making dressings and sauces, when something tastes flat, we tend to grab salt first. Though seasoning with salt is perfectly fine, your mixture might be missing something else, like something sweet or acidic. Try tweaking with a touch of raw honey, a splash of coconut aminos, or a squeeze of lemon. Or go for something that adds umami, like miso or tomato paste.

5. Share your healthy meals

Eating meals with family or friends has been shown to boost mental health, and can make the experience of eating more enjoyable. If varying schedules mean family dinner isn’t realistic for you, try a family breakfast one or two days a week. Start a weekend lunch or dinner tradition, or a twice-a-month dinner club with friends. As long as you find a way to share a meal, you’re turning a healthy meal into a more meaningful moment.

Read next: These Eating Habits Can Reduce Cortisol Levels, Says Expert

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