Okay, so, vegetables and giant salads for dinner… are you getting excited? I am assuming that if you were about to eat a gourmet meal at a restaurant, with a ton of oil and sugar, you’d get much more excited, right? There is this bias out there in the world that making healthy food taste good is impossible.
I get it, trust me. I used to make plenty of vegan meals in the beginning of my vegan journey that I could barely stomach or finish. However, let me tell you that once I understood my mistakes and learned a few tricks, I fell in love with vegan food, and making healthy food taste good became a breeze for me.
I want to share with you 7 common mistakes when trying to make vegan, healthy food taste good. And don’t worry, of course I will present some solutions to each – I won’t leave you hanging!
Once you learn these simple strategies, you will get as excited about your home-made meals, that will be bursting with flavor, as you do about a gourmet meal at a restaurant.
And if you’d like to learn more about this topic, be sure to register for a live training that I’ll be teaching for FREE on March 30th, 6PM PST by entering your name and email here:
And now, let’s get into the common mistakes when trying to make healthy food taste good.
6 Common Mistakes When Trying to Make Healthy Food Taste Good + How to Make Flavorful Vegan Meals
Mistake #1 when trying to make healthy food taste good: believing that healthy food = bland, boring food
I always like to start with mindset. If you believe that healthy food is always bland, boring, and tasteless, well then, it will be!
When I look at fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds I get inspired. I am in awe of their beauty. I know them so intimately that I can envision exactly what meal can be created out of using each of them.
Fruits and vegetables are extremely beautiful – if you look at food photos, there is nothing more appealing than a meal made up of colorful produce. You just have to know how to enhance their flavor a tiny bit, and you can easily create something that will totally tantalize your senses.
This is a photo of a home-made meal that took me less than 15 minutes to prepare. It is satisfying, super healthy, and it looks so beautiful.
So many people think that the food I create takes hours, and is very complicated. But the truth is, I just know some simple tricks around the kitchen that I have learned over the past 5 years of working with healthy food. If you know these tricks, you can easily do the same!
So how to fix mistake #1?
Start believing that firstly, fruits and vegetables can easily create a healthy, tantalizing meal. And secondly, know and believe that you can easily prepare it, even if right now, you do not know your way around the kitchen at all.
Mistake #2 when trying to make healthy food taste good: purchasing ingredients and produce that is not ripe and fresh
When produce becomes your main meal, you cannot expect to be able to turn bad-quality basics into a healthy, delicious meal.
Making healthy food taste good is about starting with really great quality basic ingredients. Splurge a bit on your fruits and vegetables, and you’ll see that it skyrockets the taste of your meals!
One of the best tips I share in my online course, “The Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen”, is how to store fruits and vegetables in a way that ensures their flavor.
A Little secret from the course: your tomatoes do not go in the fridge. That is one sure way to ruin their delicious flavor.
So purchasing organic, ripe fruits and vegetables is a great starting point. You can find these at your local co-op, health food store, or farmer’s market. The longer they have been transported from another country, the worse their taste will be.
In addition, buying produce out of season is also a bad idea – it usually entirely loses flavor by the time it gets to you.
What I like to do is shop seasonally, and get most of my produce from local farmer’s markets and fruit stands. If nothing good is available, I go for frozen. Frozen produce is usually picked ripe and then frozen, so it tastes wonderful.
I also stay away from purchasing canned beans and legumes. I prefer to buy dry, organic ones and cook them fresh after soaking them. This makes them more flavorful, and that way I can ensure they have been cooked in a healthy way, and avoid extra aluminum and BPA (chemicals that are usually found in cans).
If you are struggling with budget when it comes to purchasing good-quality produce, read my post here with tips on budget-friendly vegan shopping.
Mistake #3 when trying to make healthy food taste good: not using enough spices and seasonings
My grandmother, who inspired my love for healthy food, never uses spices. I am pretty sure she is just scared of them and doesn’t really know where to start.
Not only are spices extremely food for you (they are a primary source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds), they also make food absolutely delicious and enhance the flavor of produce.
In “The Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen”, I lay out the formula for flavoring your meals right. It is a step-by-step method, one of the steps being “flavoring”. I explain my favorite spices to use, and how much of them I use in meals.
I love using spice blends and seasonings. Let me share some of my favorites with you: cajun seasoning, chili blend, chicken seasoning (funny, I know), cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle, cayenne pepper, turmeric + black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, onion and garlic powder, and many more.
I like to purchase these at my favorite online store called Vitacost.
A general rule is to start with about ½ teaspoon per large dish, and to taste test to see whether you need more – is the flavor bold enough? Can it be enhanced further by adding a bit more? Increase slowly – 1/4 teaspoon at a time.
When picking which spices to use, think of the culture you are borrowing from. Use a chili blend + chipotle for Mexican-inspired recipes, curry powder for Indian, and cumin and cilantro for Thai, etc.
I also love adding nutritional yeast to recipes that I want to taste cheesy, and even to Mexican-inspired dishes as well.
You can make any vegetable taste wonderful by adding spices to it – don’t be shy and experiment your way into it.
4. Mistake #4 when trying to make healthy food taste good: not using enough salt
Many people think of salt as the devil, trying to avoid it at all costs in an attempt to remain healthy. The result of this is that your food ends up tasting very bland compared to restaurant or processed food.
Sea salt really kicks up flavor. Unless you have a specific health issue, like kidney problems or high blood pressure (in which case you can get yourself used to eating lower sodium content), you should not be afraid of good-quality salt.
I like to use Himalayan pink salt, or Celtic sea salt. Start with ¼ teaspoon per dish, and add more if needed.
I also love adding different types of seaweeds to my vegetables, including wakame, nori, and dulse. These are extremely mineral rich, and provide iodine. They also taste amazing in any Asian-inspired dish.
Another one of my favorite additions are fermented foods.
The fermentation process enhances the flavor of salt and sour in the original mixture, so this can also help you eat lower sodium. If can use just a small amount of kimchi, sauerkraut, ume plum vinegar, or miso to boost flavor.
A little health tip when it comes to fermented foods: be sure to purchase raw and unpasteurized varieties to preserve the beneficial gut bacteria they provide (for better digestion), and add them when the food is relatively cool in order not to destroy the probiotics in them.
In “The Effortlessly Flavor Vegan Kitchen”, I also teach how to actually ferment any condiment (such as home-made salsa and sriracha) yourself – it’s an extremely easy process.
Mistake #5 when trying to make healthy food taste good: making your meals too dry
Imagine a bowl of quinoa and chickpeas. And that’s it. Very healthy, but definitely needs some kind of enhancement beyond just spices and sea salt.
There are two mistakes when it comes to making your meals too dry.
The first one has to do with health:
A big mistake here is to pour on the olive oil. I am a huge advocate for taking out the oil from your diet, and this is one of the biggest things I teach in the course.
A very healthy vegan meal of vegetables can turn into extremely unhealthy when you add olive or coconut oil to it. Does this surprise you? Did you hear that oil is really good for you?
The second mistake has to do with flavor:
Just because you don’t use oil, does not mean your meals should not taste AMAZING. The trick is to know how to create delicious, flavorful salad dressings, dips, and sauces.
Oil-free sauces combine all of the elements of flavor that I have discussed so far, and more. These sauces make your vegetables really stand out.
They are based on soaked nuts and seeds, as well as nut and seed butters. These sauces are much lower in fat than oils, and include other ingredients to cut down the fat content. They provide an amazing creaminess to your meal.
By the way, here you can download my 3 favorite oil-free vegan sauces, dips, and dressings.
It does not take a genius in the kitchen to know how to create these dressings, dips, and sauces. It simply requires understanding a basic step-by-step method to do it right. This is the method I teach in “The Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen”.
If you want to learn the basics of this method, be sure to register for my upcoming live training here:
Mistake #6 when trying to make healthy food taste good: cooking in a bad mood
Every time I cook in a bad mood, my meal does not turn out as delicious.
It has been scientifically proven that you lose minerals when you eat when you’re upset. Similarly, you should not cook in a bad mood.
Instead, try to do a guided meditation, talk to a good friend, or get your energies out through movement. Only when you are happier, begin to prepare the meal.
I even like to take in my love for every ingredient in the meal while I am preparing it. I tell ya – it makes such a huge difference in flavor!
Whether you are only cooking for yourself, or for your family, visualize health when you cook. Think of all the health benefits this amazing meal you are creating will bring to you and them!
So these are all of the mistakes you can possibly make when trying to make healthy food taste good. Start to believe that healthy vegan food can be extremely exciting. This is where the change starts.
Which strategy was your favorite, and one that you will begin implementing immediately?