We live in a society of contradictions about health. You know what I mean if your social media feeds alternate between time-lapse videos of mouth-wateringly tasty desserts and the latest workout trends and "fitspiration."
Brain stimulations to work out and eat clean in order to reach your goals fight with the desire to lounge in your PJs and order pizza. We all face temptations, but learning to balance a flavor craving with healthy cooking methods can help keep you on track to achieving your goals.
Start by utilizing all five senses when you're eating or thinking about what to eat. For example, are you craving Spicy Sesame Chicken? What's behind the craving? Is it the tinge you feel on your tongue when the thick sauce taps your taste buds? Is it the crisp crunch you hear crackle as your teeth cut through? Is it the overwhelming warmth that comes over you as your body tries to conquer the spice? Maybe it's the glazed caramel pop of color pulling the focus of your eyes?
Once you determine the qualities you are craving, step back and decide what elements can be substituted for a healthier choice. When I get that craving for Spicy Sesame Chicken, sometimes I make Spicy Sesame Cauliflower instead.
I start by lightly coating cauliflower florets in panko crumbs and flaxseed, drizzle on a sesame sauce, top them with sesame seeds and diced scallions, and finish it off by baking it to a crisp in the oven. You'll maintain the deep umami kick, the crackle and crunch as you take a bite, the warmth from the heat of the sauce and the color pop! You'll satisfy all of your food cravings with bonus points for creativity, increased veggie servings, reduced fat content and added heart-healthy omega-3s!
There's no rule that says eating healthy has to be bland and boring. Invite in the flavor and the color, nourish your body, satisfy a craving and allow for life's simple indulgences. It's time we start paying attention to why we're craving specific foods and having the confidence to improvise and create in the kitchen. Find your balance. Remember, some foods are good for your heart, some foods have carbohydrate control, but there's a time and place for the foods that are simply good for the soul.