Here Is a Fun Way to Upgrade Your Typical Meal Plan

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Is your typical dinnertime a study in boredom? Sure, you enjoy your traditional comfort classics, and familiar recipes satisfy. However, sometimes you crave adventure. How can you upgrade your weekday favorites? 

You don’t have to go crazy or read a new diet book. Small changes can make a big difference. Are you ready to delight your taste buds with something new on your fork? Here are five fun ways to upgrade your typical meal plan. 

1. Add, Not Subtract

Maybe you regard the idea of upgrading your typical meal plan with a skeptical eye and for a good reason. You’re used to diets that tell you to strip favorite treats, sometimes entire food groups, from your life — but food has always been meant to be a joy from our earliest evolution. No wonder you wind up feeling deprived, one reason such restrictions seldom work for long. 

Instead, take a different approach, adding more of the good stuff instead of adding entire foods to a forbidden list. For example, you can eat the same portion of mac and cheese with broccoli and carrots added for improved flavor and still consume fewer calories than the same-sized bowl with no veggies. You can enjoy the same comfort classic you love — no cashew cheese or chickpea noodles — but still improve your diet. 

What other ways can you upgrade your typical meal plan by adding more of the good stuff? Consider these fun ideas when you make your weekly menu:

  • Spaghetti: If you don’t like zucchini noodles, why not add the veggie itself to your pasta sauce? You can mince nearly any vegetable up finely, making a rainbow with eggplant, broccoli and red and yellow pepper and sneak a hearty serving of veggies to your kids without them knowing it. 
  • Your morning cereal or smoothie: Add fruit, fruit and more fruit. Other dried foods besides raisins can make a plain bowl of bran sparkle, and the berries are the best part of a parfait. 
  • Sandwiches: Instead of simple lettuce and tomato, try field greens and a bit of exotic crunch with jicama strips. 
  • Soup: Did your weekly meal prep leave you with half an onion and a handful of a dozen other veggies? Time to transform them into stock or a hearty stew by adding some beans or meat. 

2. Try a Swap 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with substitutions if you enjoy them. For example, some folks love the slight crunch that comes with spiralized veggie noodles, while others find the difference in texture off-putting. There’s no need to eat what you don’t like, but keep an open mind — you might enjoy some swaps better. 

You can substitute ingredients to improve flavor or reduce unwanted substances like fat and calories. For example: 

  • Lighten up when baking: Use a cup of milled flaxseed to replace ⅓ cup of vegetable oil. Alternatively, substitute applesauce for oil in a 1:1 ratio. 
  • Think beyond all-purpose: There’s trouble with bleached flour, a chemical byproduct called alloxan that amplifies the damage this stuff does to your blood sugar control. Instead, consider a whole-grain alternative or try an option like amaranth, quinoa, lentil, chickpea, almond, cassava or tapioca flour — the list of possibilities is nearly infinite.  
  • Sugar ain’t all that’s sweet: You can substitute ¾ cup of honey for each cup of sugar in a recipe for the antioxidants. Other options are ¾ cup of maple syrup, ⅔ cup of agave nectar, a teaspoon of stevia or two teaspoons of monk fruit powder. 

3. Infuse Some Flavors 

You can infuse oils and water with various other foods to add subtle hints of flavor and nutrients without adding calories. Infusing water is as simple as selecting your favorite fruits and adding them to a pitcher in your refrigerator. 

To infuse vegetable oils for cooking, fill a clean jar to the top with your favorite herbs, like rosemary and basil. Let it stand in a cool, dark place for three to six weeks before straining it and using it for recipes. 

4. Get Exotic 

If your partner is the strict steak and potatoes sort, you don’t have to spring a Cambodian dish on them, hoping to change their tastes. However, pairing something new with the old helps you upgrade your typical meal plan. 

For example, why not try one of these unusual vegetables as a side? 

  • Watermelon radishes with balsamic vinegar
  • Mashed sunchokes with garlic and olive oil 
  • Sauteed fiddlehead ferns
  • Nopal and corn salsa 
  • Lotus chips 

5. Go for Fusion 

Finally, make like one of the world’s top chefs to upgrade your typical meal plan. Fusion cuisine remains all the rage, and masters like Calvin Eng and Jimmy Ly have made their culinary mark with their unique combinations. 

Fusion cuisine need not be hard or time-consuming to make. It’s as simple as substituting Tamari sauce for salt or adding last night’s leftover chicken tenders to tonight’s fried rice. What matters is the creativity you bring to the kitchen — although you can always consult a recipe or two as you learn how various flavor profiles blend. 

Fun Ways to Upgrade Your Meal Plan 

Are you tired of the same old, same old, for dinner every night? Why not refresh your meal plan with a few tips that don’t leave you feeling deprived? 

The above five techniques will help you upgrade your meal plan while having fun at mealtime. You can improve your health, expand your culinary horizons and tickle your taste buds all at once. 





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