Food Prep The Nutrition Flavor Connection

Nutrition and flavor go hand in hand. You don't need to sacrifice one for the other. Proper food storage and handling enhance the natural flavors of food and keep nutrient loss to a minimum.

  • Start with high-quality ingredients. These don't need to be the most expensive foods in the store. But they do need to be handled properly all along the food chain—right to your kitchen. Refer to "Shopping for Freshness " in chapter 11.
  • Store foods properly until they're prepared. Cooking can't improve poor-quality food, but it can enhance the flavors of already high-quality foods. Chapter 12, "The Safe Kitchen," offers many culinary tips for freshness.
  • Cook to retain nutrients, flavor, color, texture, and overall taste appeal. For quick flavor enhancers, see "For a Taste Lift" and "More Taste Lifters."
  • Pep it up with peppers! Use red, green, and yellow peppers of all varieties-sweet, hot, and dried. Or add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
  • Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, and salsas of all kinds!
  • Simmer to make reduction sauces. Concentrate the flavors of meat, poultry, and fish stocks. Reduce the juices by heating them-don't boil! Then use them as a flavorful glaze or gravy.

High temperatures and long cooking times can destroy heat-sensitive nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and folate. Some minerals and water-soluble vitamins dissolve in cooking water; they're lost when cooking water is discarded. And light destroys riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin A. Proper cooking techniques keep nutrient loss to a minimum and food quality at its peak. See "Simple Ways to Keep Vitamins in Food" later in this chapter.

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