This post is inspired by my three sisters who recently fell into food ruts. Have you ever fallen into a food rut or are you currently in one? In this case rut = boredom.
By nature we tend to go with what is familiar and frankly, easy – brown rice, roasted fish, steamed broccoli, teriyaki sauce, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs. You get the idea. Week after week we make the same food, prepared in the same way, which eventually leads to a foot rut.
It happens to us all.
Relax, I can help!
You won’t eat what you don’t like
I recognize when I’m in a food rut when the idea of eating the meal that I prepared feels like a chore. There is nothing wrong with the food and there is nothing wrong with me. It is a sign that I have just hit a food wall. The meal is boring. I know everything about it – its texture, its flavor, the sound of my fork hitting the bottom of the container. When this happens, it’s time for a change. Nothing dramatic, just a simple twist.
Beyond boredom, ruts can be dangerous
Food ruts can be a slippery slope. They can lead to bad food choices. For example you end up eating the left over donuts in the break room instead of the minestrone soup you brought to work. Or you toss your perfectly good salad out of the window and head to head nearest drive-thru window hankering for new flavors.
The enjoyment of food is important. Studies have demonstrated that we are more likely to eat healthfully when we like the food that we are eating.
Think small (changes)
Making small changes can have a big impact on your recipes. Try a new spice, a new ethnic flavor profile or a new cooking method. By putting a new spin on an old dish, you can create something completely new and exciting. Here are my 10 tips for breaking the boredom barrier.
- Salad Exchange! Swap out your romaine or iceberg lettuce for a new green. Toss in kale, radicchio, arugula, spinach, sweet potato greens, or shredded broccoli. The different flavor and textures from these greens with give an added boost to your salad.
- Get Exotic. Instead of brown rice, use whole-wheat couscous. The light and fluffy texture is a nice change from the dense brown rice.
- Nix the bread. Swap out your bread or bun for lettuce leaves. This has been a trend for a while, but have you tried it? It works and is a nice refreshing break with hot and cold recipes.
- Skip the tortilla. Jicama taco shells are fantastic. Use this tasty Mexican turnip instead of corn or flower tortillas for your next Taco Tuesday! Check out my quick video recipe for making the shells.
- Switch up your oil. Use ghee instead of olive oil or vegetable oil. Ghee is a fantastic way to sauté vegetable or protein while adding incredible flavor.
- Get Saucy. If you have been using basic tomato sauce for your recipes switch it up and add to the base. Mango, red pepper flake, zucchini, spinach, tomatillos are all good options. Break out the food processor and get mixing! This gets you beyond the familiar tomato taste and into more complex flavors that your palate will appreciate.
- Spice it up. Go beyond salt, pepper or Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and use your spice cabinet. If your spice cabinet is bland then start to develop one. My favorites are cumin, coriander, ginger, red pepper flake, dried parsley, turmeric and mustard seed.
- It’s about the technique. If you are accustomed to grilling and frying your food, try steaming or roasting for a different dining experience. One of my favorite ways to prepare fish is en papillote, or in parchment paper. It’s a good way to steam food and lock in the flavor. If its done on the barbeque you get more bank for the buck! Check out my quick recipe video for halibut and clams wrapped in banana leaf.
- Switch up your cheese. If you enjoy dairy, one easy way to mix things up is to change the cheese that you buy. I love spicy and smoked cheeses – jalapeno pepper jack, smoked gouda, Manchego, Vermont cheddar are among my favorites.
- Add salsa. If you prep your proteins in advance for the week you can easily get bored by Wednesday. Although I am a pescatarian, I have friends and family that are not. They often grill chick breast on Sunday and plan to use them throughout the week. Boredom usually hits around Wednesday. One easy way to add jazz up grill proteins is to add salsa. Not just the usual tomato based version, but mango, peach, watermelon or pineapple. The more exotic the better. The tropical salsa adds flavor and one serving of fruits and vegetables. Here is a link to a video recipe for one of my favorite salsas, mango avocado.