Assembling a Healthy Meal: herbs, condiments & additions
I have had so many responses from my last vlog on how to assemble a healthy meal that I needed to do a follow on!
So let’s unpack the herbs and garnishes component of your well-put-together meal. Grab a pen and paper and read on…
Herbs are little boosts of nutrition that also enhance the gut healing power of meals (and bonus that they make it taste even better!). They also pack a punch when it comes to antioxidant activity, as they are rich in polyphenols which are super important for gut health. Cloves, in particular, contain the highest antioxidant activity as per the ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
Do you have a herb garden at home? It is one of the best feelings to collect some fresh herbs from the garden whilst you are cooking and it also enhances your connection to your food as well. Use herbs to garnish everything! Yes – even coriander!
Hint: you can make any meal have a more Mediterranean feel by roasting a tray of veggies in the oven that are sprinkled with herbs like oregano.
Nuts and seeds are also often forgotten. Toast them up for added texture and crunch to your meals and snacks.
Need ideas? What about toasted pistachios or hazelnuts on desserts, slithers of almonds on fish or chicken or crushed peanuts in curries. You can also toast them with some olive oil and spices like turmeric for an added nutritional boost. And don’t forget about hemp seeds which can be added to pretty much anything – sweet or savoury!
Seaweed is another nutrient booster that people don’t often think about. Sprinkle it on savoury dishes and your good gut microbes will love you! Keep some dulse, nori or wakame on hand in your kitchen.
Good quality salt (like celtic sea salt) – all you need is a pinch to really bring out the flavour in your meal.
Bone broth is another addition that boosts gut health and can be added to so many things – marinades, salad dressings, soups, stews, you can even use it as part of chicken schnitzel seasoning!
Fermented foods for a probiotic boost – if you can tolerate histamines. All you need is between a teaspoon to a tablespoon of kimchi or sauerkraut added to your meal.
Using greek yoghurt as a sauce is another option for a probiotic boost – add a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper and some herbs – it is delicious!
If you don’t mind the cost, superfood powders pack another powerhouse punch. Think camu camu, acai, kakadu plum, spirulina – there are so many options!
Even though they can often be classed as unhealthy, certain condiments can be added to really enhance your food flavour and texture. My favourite…pesto! There is also guacamole, tahini, mustard, hommus, nut butters.
And lastly, don’t forget some basics like lemon, lime and orange zest, vinegars, avocado oil, olive oil, high-quality grass-fed butter and ghee.
Wow, what a list! Remember, our aim is to ingest around 40 different plant foods per week and the good news is most of the above contribute to this! So just by adding different condiments, herbs and nutrient additions to each meal you are easily boosting the variety of plant foods in your diet which makes your gut very very happy.
I love receiving feedback and seeing what you are adding to your meals so please tag me on social media or leave a comment below.