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March is National Nutrition Month: Celebrate a world of flavors with help from the experts at BWFH

This National Nutrition Month, “Celebrate a World of Flavors” by embracing cuisines from around the world, or exploring new adventures in flavor.

Nancy Oliveira, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, Senior Nutritionist in the Nutrition Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital says, “One challenge in maintaining a healthful diet can be boredom—caused by eating the same meals and foods over time. It’s perfectly normal for our taste buds to periodically crave something different and exciting, which is the perfect time to experiment with a new recipe, new spices, a new vegetable or a new ethnic cuisine.”

Breaking from routine helps to stimulate the brain and may encourage people to stick with a healthful eating plan, explains Oliveira. Try these tips to challenge your taste buds and expand your eating experiences, through flavor and by exploring new ethnic cuisines: 

Revisit meals special to your culture or heritage. If you’ve avoided them because they are too heavy, experiment with fine-tuning the recipe using different cooking methods. For example, use an air-fryer instead of deep-frying, add more vegetables than meats or swap out certain ingredients like using farro or brown rice instead of white rice. Use similar herbs and spices to recreate the original flavors.

Consider these healthful spins on familiar ethnic meals:

  • Brown rice with black beans, salsa, boiled sliced plantains and a poached egg
  • Baked falafel in a whole wheat pita with cucumber, tomato, lettuce and onion
  • Stir-fried tofu or edamame with diced vegetables and brown rice
  • Lentil stew with flatbread and a side salad
  • Tacos or burritos filled with beans, cubed firm tofu or tempeh, salsa, shredded lettuce and tomato
  • Whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce, chickpeas and vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers or onions
  • Indian rajma (kidney beans simmered with diced onion, tomato sauce and spices) served with brown rice and a green leafy vegetable of your choice
  • Chinese congee (rice porridge, often served with fish, chicken, peanuts or egg) served with a cup of soymilk and an orange

Use that collection of herbs and spices in your pantry. Aren’t sure how to use them? Try the homemade spice combos below and add to any cooked meat, fish, vegetable, stew or soup before reaching for the salt shaker. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the exact spices; just mix together what you have in house!

  • BBQ rub: Cumin, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano
  • Indian: Bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder
  • Italian: Basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Mexican: Coriander, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, chili powder
  • Middle Eastern: Bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, coriander, za’atar, garlic powder
  • North African: Cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, ginger, ras el hanout
  • Thai: Basil, cumin, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, curry powder

Want to learn more about healthy eating? Contact Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Nutrition Clinic at 617-983-4455 to set up an appointment with a registered dietitian.


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