We all have a few favorite “safety” dishes we fall back on when we’re rushed for time or out of ideas for something to cook. They’re typically easy to prepare and include some of our favorite ingredients. After a while, however, we grow tired of the same tastes and need a new way to enjoy our old classics.
By simply changing a few ingredients, you can reinvent your “safety” meals and invigorate your taste buds.
We’ll start with breakfast. Plain cereal with low fat (or fat-free) milk gets boring fast. To change it up, measure out half of a serving of two different cereals. By adding a new cereal to the mix, you are already introducing a new flavor. But why stop there? Throw on some nuts (walnuts or almonds both work well) and fresh fruit. If you find that you always reach for the banana, pick a different fruit (berries are a great choice). This new “safety” meal is still quick and easy but now has more food groups and flavors.
Now, for a mid-day change up. Maybe, lunch is always the same salad day after day: lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Remix it by throwing in unconventional ingredients such as fresh fruit (berries, grapes and citrus, for instance). Add two tablespoons of avocado for heart healthy fat and great flavor. Don’t be afraid to mix up your proteins. Grilled chicken, lean red meat, tofu, nuts and eggs can all be thrown in for a punch. Also, try making your dressing from scratch. Start with 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. By adding different vinegars (balsamic, cider or fruit vinegars, such as pear) you already have more options. Swap in some delicious herbs and spices (garlic, basil and oregano are all delicious) and the opportunities are endless!
End your day with something fabulous, a made-over dinner. For many, pasta is a great “safety” meal because it is relatively inexpensive, easy and quick to cook. Remix with whole-wheat and whole grain pastas, which provide many nutrients. Changing your choice of noodle (there are multiple whole-wheat pasta varieties, such as rotini, spaghetti and penne) gives a new look and feel to a meal you already love. Now, be a little creative. Add some protein (many of us tend to keep it on the side); grilled chicken, shrimp, lean turkey and chicken “meatballs” are all light and delicious. Transform your sauces by trying a lean meat sauce or experiment by flavoring olive oils and tossing over your pasta. (To flavor the oil, add herbs and spices the night before, seal and use the next day).
Incorporating variety in your diet keeps your favorite meals fresh while helping to maximize nutrient intake. Make it a goal this week! Take one breakfast, lunch and dinner and remix them! Add new ingredients or swap in different flavors to change up an old classic. You might just be surprised how delicious your old “safety” dish can be.
Until next time,