In last week’s post on the French (Non!) Diet, I wrote about how to avoid overeating by getting choosier about your cheese.
Another way to avoid over-eating is to constantly change up ingredients in the foods you cook. After all, if your recipe rotation is pretty stagnant, with the same ingredients in your shopping cart week after week, it’s easy to get bored. And a bored eater is often an over-eater.
So next time you’re walking through the supermarket or the farmers market, pick up something off your beaten path.
Below are just a few ways I’ve learned—from time spent in French home kitchens and markets—to switch up ingredients in my cooking. Consider these your first steps on the road to more satisfying and diverse recipes.
Vary Your Vinegars and Oils
When I first started summering in France, I was astounded by all the wonderful vinegars and oils available in even the most ordinary of French supermarkets. Walnut, hazelnut, avocado, and sunflower oils, herb- or fruit-infused vinegars and aged sherry or balsamic vinegars—I’d take them all back to my little apartment and set my cooking free.
These days, our supermarkets are equally well stocked, and specialty vinegar and oil shops are popping up everywhere. Take advantage. Experiment switching in a more dynamic oil or vinegar for “the usual” in your next recipe, and see how the satisfaction factor really takes off.
Explore a World of Greens
There are a lot of greens in the world, and France taught me to enjoy them all. Next time you’re perusing the produce aisle, pick up that Swiss Chard, those beet and turnip greens, watercress, escarole, frisée. And sorrel, for heaven’s sake!
Add these flavor-charged greens to salads and soups for color, vitamins, and great taste. Or, use them to highlight a main dish—Salmon with Sorrel Sauce, for instance. Or simply sauté them in a fascinating oil (see above point!) for a great side. Talk about adding lots of flavor bang for your calorie buck!
Cut Loose in the Produce Aisle
From turnips and rutabagas to celery root and salsify, there are under-appreciated veggies waiting to be explored. Cooked celery root or turnips taste amazing pureed into the mashed potato mix. Raw turnips and celery root—sliced into tiny matchstick-sized pieces—add fascinating texture and taste to a salad.
Next time you see something knobby and unpromising-looking, bring it home. I’ve never regretted such impulse purchases, as they’ve added so much to my cooking.
Celery Root by essgee51 via Flickr
Vinegar Bottles y shawnporter via Flickr
Greens by alice_henneman via Flickr