Fill Your Life
with Culinary Adventures
by Lynn Kerrigan
It's spring and time to clean out the clutter, break free of old habits and renew life. Craving more excitement? Look no further than the end of your fork! A world of food adventures is at your fingertips:
- Stuck in the habit of always buying the same foods week after week? Take a safari through a supermarket aisle and try a new product each week. Have you tried dried blueberries yet? They're great atop cereal. How about Molly McButter? This little gem makes popcorn taste like the real buttered equivalent and adds no fat.
- Take a risk with a new recipe. Resolve to have at least one new food fling a month.
- Add new spice to life. Cruise the supermarket seasonings section. Buy a new flavoring that intrigues you. Check label information for suggested uses and amounts.
- Time for an oil change? Lowering your fat and liking foods less? Try raising the quality while lowering the quantity of fat in your diet. Make your next salad dressing with a flavorful extra virgin olive oil. Experiment to find the brand you enjoy most. Purchase some of the new flavored oils to lightly drizzle over vegetables or pasta for added pizzazz.
- Grab a new grain. Venture beyond bread. Try a new grain or different form of a familiar grain. How about amaranth or barley? Buckwheat and quinoa, though not true grains, also count and may offer new adventures. Check the back of food packages for quick access to new recipe ideas. Or, test untried forms of favorite grains. Consider bulgur or couscous from the wheat family. If you've always used cornmeal for making cornbread, try cooking polenta instead.
- Say cheese! In the book On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee says cheese probably has been around since 2300 B.C. If your history with cheese is limited to two or three favorites, you're missing out on centuries of cheese flavor. High in bone-building calcium, there's a cheese for everyone: Low fat, low sodium, sharp, mellow—the options are endless. Use a new variety to liven up a favorite dish. Fancy a new fruit. Take home a new fruit on your next supermarket trip. Try different varieties of old favorites, such as apples. There are any number of varieties out there—which ones haven't you tried yet? Make sure you know how to fix the fruit you fancy. Avoid the sad situation of the person who threw away the edible seed portion of a pomegranate and tried to eat the inedible spongy membrane!
- Vary your vegetables. Instead of a baked potato, try a sweet potato and score an "A" for adventure as well as vitamin A. Baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon butter are a divine taste experience. Pep up color and flavor by adding green, yellow and red peppers to your meals.
- Turn up the heat. Experiment with the myriad varieties of hot peppers, mustards and spicy sauces.
- Go for the green. Mix up your salad with a variety of greens and continue the adventure by sampling a new salad dressing. Combine greens with different textures, colors and flavors. Use stronger-tasting tart greens in smaller amounts. For example, a romaine or Boston lettuce is milder in flavor. Radicchio and escarole are tart. Include fresh herb leaves, such as basil and tarragon, for added interest.
- Encounter another culture. If you can't travel to another country, step through the door of a new ethnic restaurant. Check to see if there is a "sampler" plate so you can try a variety of foods.
- Jump on the bean bandwagon. Black beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, navy beans. . . Have you tried beans yet? Serve them as a main dish or serve them on the side. Mix them into salads. Mash them and add a spice for a flavorful dip. Use them straight from the can, or cook up a bag. High in fiber, they make a healthy addition to your meals.
- Pasta possibilities. Try a different shape, color or flavor of pasta to add a new look to an old dish. Match larger and bolder pasta shapes with chunkier and more robust sauces.
- Mix up your main dishes. Are you afraid to order a food you can't pronounce? Do you always choose your main dishes from the same menu food grouping? Venture out with some of your more adventurous friends and make it a point to order foods you've never eaten. Share the foods . . . And the fun! Get cooking with a new cookbook. Browse the cookbook section in your favorite bookstore or local library. Review magazines and newsletters that offer recipes. When you find a recipe that makes your taste buds tingle, give it a try. Cookbooks are your passport to adventure right in your own kitchen!
Adapted from FoodTalk E-mail Newsletter, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County, or FoodTalk.
Copyright © 1997, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.
This page created 1997 and modified February 2007