Flavor on the Menu

For healthful eating, you don't need to give up flavor in today's restaurants! More than ever, chefs use culinary techniques to enhance foods' natural flavors, while retaining their nourishing qualities. This phenomenon isn't reserved for table-service or upscale

Need more tips on eating out? Check here for "how-tos":

  • Eat out with kids and deal with their "fussy" restaurant eating—see chapter 16.
  • Eat out vegetarian-style—see chapter 20.
  • Handle allergies when eating out—see chapter 21.

restaurants. Gradually it's happening in many fast-food, deli, and family restaurants.

What flavor techniques do chefs use? Their culinary secrets can work in your kitchen.

  • Poaching fish, poultry, or meat in flavorful broth, rather than cooking them in oil . . . or poaching fruit in juice, rather than cooking in sugary syrup
  • Intensifying flavors with high-heat cooking, such as pan-searing, grilling, or broiling, to brown the meat and seal in the juices
  • Grilling or roasting vegetables, then featuring them center stage as an entrée
  • Adding fuller flavors with more whole grains, including brown rice, amaranth, and quinoa, as well as wild rice
  • Flavoring and adding volume and color to plates with more creative fruit and vegetable sides and garnishes, often with exotic fruits and vegetables
  • Serving bean purees or tapenade (anchovy-olive spread) instead of butter or margarine as table condiments
  • Using salsa, chutney, or vinaigrette in place of rich sauces
  • Adding nuts: hazelnuts, pecans, almonds
  • Flavoring creatively with herbs and spices: perhaps a sweet spice, such as cinnamon, with meat, or a savory herb, such as rosemary, with fruit
  • Using big, bold flavor ingredients, but perhaps small amounts, such as feta or blue cheese, pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper (with a smoky taste), cilantro, or bitter broccoli rabe
  • Layering flavors, with a variety of ingredients of contrasting flavors—as easy as a mixture of many greens, citrus fruit, and nuts in a salad
  • Varying and balancing flavors in a dish or meal, for example, a fruit sauce for fish with mango
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