Have you ever cooked a dish and thought, “This needs extra oomph, what the heck can I do?” It’s happened to all of us, so you’re definitely not alone. Over the years, we’ve developed a tried-and-true process to help you add flavour to any meal and breathe life into your food (aside from the natural, health-supporting life that’s already there!). With a few simple, easy-to-find ingredients, you can enhance your meal’s flavour profile in a couple of minutes.
Here are our 5 favourite ways to add flavour to any meal.
1. Sea Salt
A good quality unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt will not only bring out the flavours of whatever you’re cooking, but also add a load of trace minerals into the mix. We find that when using sea salt, we actually need to add less in order to achieve the right level of saltiness.
Depending on what you’re whipping up in the kitchen, you can use a coarse salt or buy it finely ground. The coarser versions are great to add when you want a burst of saltiness (hello salted chocolate!), or are cooking a dish for at least 20 minutes so the salt has time to dissolve. When you’d like a quick hit of flavour, are creating something raw (like a dip or salad), or are finishing a dish, a finely ground salt is typically the way to go to ensure the salt is evenly dispersed throughout.
2. A Drizzle of Your Favourite Oil
Nutritious sources of fat are essential for digestion, the cardiovascular system, brain health, skin and the nervous system, so it’s no surprise that fat plays an essential role in cooking as well. As the most energy-dense macronutrient, we’re primed to love the flavour and texture of fat.
A decent fat or oil will offer us flavour, a great mouthfeel and boost our feelings of satiety. This is why those low-fat and non-fat diets are so unsatisfying and hard to follow – our bodies need and crave fat!
Each oil has its own taste and best use, depending on the food you’re pairing it with and the amount of heat applied. Some oils are best for high-heat cooking, while others should never be heated. For a full primer, check out our handy guide to choosing healthy cooking oils.
3. Lemon or Lime
Lemon and lime offer a fresh burst of acidity that is great for brightening or balancing the flavour of any dish. Ensure you add a squeeze of lemon at the end, as it will get lost in the cooking process if you toss it in at the beginning. We like to juice a bunch of lemons at the beginning of the week and store the lemon juice in a jar in the fridge so it will be readily available for adding to meals and beverages (it’s great to have first thing in the morning in warm or room temperature water to help kickstart digestion and liver function for the day, too).
You can also add orange juice if it complements your dish and you enjoy the orange-y flavour.
4. Fresh Herbs
Many of us relegate herbs to the side of our plate as a garnish, but they are potently flavourful and can really help your dish shine. Fresh parsley, mint, basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, tarragon and oregano are all great choices and contain a variety of health benefits, from reducing inflammation to detoxification to boosting brain power.
Many herbs will lose their flavour the longer you cook them. We prefer to add them at the end, especially if you’ve tasted a dish and feel it lacks that ‘wow factor’. We don’t chop them too finely, as the little bits can to get lost and diminish the flavour. We do a rough chop, or a thin slice.
If you find yourself with extra herbs on hand, freeze them in ice cube trays with olive oil or make a pesto.
5. An Awesome Condiment
We regularly keep a collection of awesome homemade condiments in the fridge that we can pull out in a snap to add flavour to meals. Once you get into the habit of making your own, you won’t be able to return to store-bought versions (plus, you’ll skip the preservatives and unnecessary chemicals, too0. Some of our faves are:
- Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles)
- Plain coconut yogurt
- Hot sauce
If none of these strike your fancy, you can add a tablespoon or two of any condiment that you love the most. Go wild!
What are your favourite ways to add flavour to recipes? Please share your secrets in the comments.