I came. I slawed. I concasséd (that’s chef speak for a fancy method of dicing a tomato). And now that I’ve graduated from New York City’s nutrition-driven culinary school, Natural Gourmet Institute, which focuses on food that tastes delicious but also happens to be good for you, I appreciate a healthy cooking trick more than ever. Here are a few of the best ones I picked up during my adventures in dicing and slicing, along with tips from a few of my favorite registered dietitians.
1. Put nutritional yeast on everything.
Dare yourself to slip some “nooch” (or hippie Parmesan, as I came to call it) into your meals. This flaky food seasoning has a cheesy taste, so it’s a great way to boost flavor in your dishes, especially if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or trying to cut back on dairy.
It also offers filling protein (3 grams per 20-calorie tablespoon) and a punch of vitamin B12, which is necessary for preventing anemia and maintaining your energy levels by creating red blood cells, and also helps keep your central nervous system healthy.
“Sprinkle nutritional yeast in hummus, grain dishes, soups, and salads for a delicious umami flavor and a hefty dose of bonus nutrition,” Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, tells SELF.
2. Marinate your proteins.
Harissa-marinated chicken? Don’t mind if we do. “Marinate your chicken, fish, or meat before grilling it or cooking it at high temperatures,” The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., C.D.N., C.F.T., and Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D.N., C.D.N., C.F.T., authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure, tell SELF.
It’s a great way to add flavor via a low-calorie cooking method instead of relying on frying or dredging food in some sort of batter. And research suggests using a spice-rich marinade may help reduce heterocyclic amines, carcinogens created when you cook meat at high temperatures, The Nutrition Twins explain.