If your food doesn’t show off the wow factor you wish it would, these 5 toppings can put a flavorful spin on an otherwise boring dish.
Chicken. Popcorn. Plain old white rice or steamed vegetables.
Too often some of our mealtime staples can put us into a serious flavor rut. They may be on our weekly meal planning lists, but end up being, simply…boring.
If you’re baking, cooking, or plating and feel that your food doesn’t show off the wow factor you wish it would, sometimes just changing up the accoutrements and toppings puts a fantastical spin on an otherwise normal (aka, boring) dish.
1. Simply Citrus
Citrus fruits can literally become your best kitchen sous chef and can be added into just about everything. There’s a world wide variety of ways to use citrus and add a little, or a lot, of zest to your favorite nom-ables.
Everyone knows that citrus has vitamin C, but did you know that these fruits have a substantial amount of fiber as well? Fiber has been shown to help overall digestion as well as balance blood sugar levels.
Grate rinds of orange, lime, or grapefruit for zest and add it to anything you’re cooking—sweet and savory. Zest adds acidity and brightens both sweet and savory flavors. Bonus points if you grate some on the top of your favorite pastry or mix to make flavored sugars. Oh my, fancy!
Squeeze lemon into just about any saucey dish and it will taste that much better. Everything from marinara and alfredo sauce as well as chili, stews, and soups are kicked up with a touch of sour. Please, don’t stop me.
Dutch Baby Pancakes With Orange Sugar from Hummingbird High
Herb and Lemon Buttered Popcorn from Big Girls Small Kitchen
Chicken and Peach Quesadillas with Lime Dipping Sauce from No Gojis No Glory
2. Slammin’ Herbs
Use herbs and spices in ways that you may have never thought of before. Magical concoctions can often happen whilst saying to yourself “what would happen if I added some herbal zing to that?”
Yellow curry powder is an amazingly versatile flavoring. Try dusting some of that goodness into mashed potatoes or even plain old rice for an instant picker upper. I adore adding curried rice into tacos or creating a rice and bean stuffing for veggies like squash or bell peppers. The turmeric in curry has been said to be used as an anti-inflammatory which helps with joint aches and muscle pains making it one of nature’s true superfoods.
Everyone loves cinnamon, but for some reason we mostly see it in sweet dessert dishes. Cinnamon is shown to help our bodies accept insulin which helps regulate our blood sugar making it just one more reason to add to comforting veggie or meat stews and rubs for chicken, pork or beef.
Thai Coconut Curry Hummus from Oh My Veggies!
Lamb Vindaloo (curry & cinnamon) from The DomesticMan
Curried Cashews from Get Inspired 365
3. Great Gains With Grains
Tired of plain rice? It happens. Mix up the dinnertime norm with whole grains that add earthiness and health benefits that take bland to grand.
Quinoa is naturally gluten free, packed with tons of iron, and makes a crazy good breakfast food. If you’re stuck in a rut of eating oatmeal or cereal for breakfast most days, quinoa is easy to make in large batches and keeps well in the fridge for later days. Add some cinnamon, sugar, and fruit and you too will find yourself becoming a quinoa queen.
Lentils can be used pretty much anywhere that you would normally use beans. They’re my go-to jam when food is making me yawn thanks to their complex carbs they’ve been been said to increase energy levels. Let’s dance! They work great in soups, burritos, and even in salads.
Nutty Honey & Cider Poached Apple (On puffy quinoa) from What Katie Ate
BBQ Lentils with Millet Polenta from The First Mess
Quinoa & Fig Tabouleh from Tartelette
4. Go Flippin’ Nuts
Whether you’re paleo, vegan, low-fat, high-fat, carb watching or just plain hungry, nuts and seeds are every diets friend thanks to the jam packed protein in each little nugget.
Add nuts and seeds as toppers to a salad or add it into your stir-fry. Sweet and salty flavors almost always blend well together.
Add sunflower seed butter as an option to peanut butter. Just like America’s favorite condiment, this butter is great on pancakes, in a smoothie, or even add a dollop to stir fry to make a delicious “peanut sauce”. Sunflower seeds have tons of vitamin E and is said to keep your skin super healthy.Butter up, buttercup.
Drop some hemp hearts on top of your hummus dip or sprinkle it in with your chocolate spread (chocolate and banana sandwiches are fantastic!). This will add a unique nutty flavor and hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons! Which is actually about the same as 2 medium sized eggs. Your friends will think you’re a culinary genius.
Kale & Sunflower Seed Pesto from Sweet Peas & Saffron
Sunshine Bowl with Sunflower Tahini Sauce from Feasting at Home
Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter with Flax & Hemp from Oh She Glows
5. Fruitful Success
Fruit may seem like a no-brainer, but you can invent (cue your best mad scientist *evil laugh*) some definitely creative and pretty darn impressive sides with fruit that will leave guests begging for the recipe.
Chop up some mango or nectarines and add it into your next salsa. Fruit salsas are easy to make and you don’t even need a food processor (chunky salsa is fabulous!). This sweet, salty, and spicy mixture is delicious with chips but really stands out when topped on pork, chicken or as a requisite topper for Mexican food.
Mangoes are extremely enzymatic and have tons of acidic enzymes that help break down foods and can help clear digestive issues. They’re do double duty on the outside too as a skin cleanser.
Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and apples are a cool way to keep salads poppin’ as a regular side dish or for a main for those of us who are trying eat a little healthier. Plus, the best part is no cooking involved—just plop them right on top and voila!
Bonus points! Biting and chewing the skin on apples has been said to help promote healthy teeth as well as keep them white.
Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad from Creme De La Crumb
Fresh Peach Salsa from Natasha’s Kitchen
Baked Brie with Cranberry from The Harvest Kitchen
This recipe round-up was curated by FoodieCrush contributor Trisha Miller who hails from Boise, ID. She is passionate about tasty food, writing, video games, and healthy living. Follow her on Twitter at @thatdangvegan.
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