Flavor Combinations to Add Pizzazz to Low-Glycemic Meals

Learning a few good flavor combinations can make meal preparation quite easy. You don't have to cook long, drawn-out recipes to make simple sides with lots of flavor. Using fresh herbs, strong cheeses, citrus, and spices can dress up the simplest foods.

Pairing flavors can be something as basic as lemon juice and salmon to something very technical like oysters and kiwi fruit. You don't have to be an expert in food pairing; instead, the idea is to use some basic ingredients to provide a lot of flavor with minimal steps.

Since no one is trying out for the Next Food Network Star, toss that oysters and kiwi idea out the window and focus on simple combinations.

A good example is something like tomatoes and cucumbers. By themselves these are simple ingredients with nice flavors. Add a balsamic vinaigrette, and you expand the flavor more. Combine the dressed vegetables with thinly sliced fresh basil, and you have a simple side dish with amazing flavor. This also takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.

After you have a few of these simple ideas under your belt, preparing fresh foods becomes simple.

Here are some other ideas of strong flavor combinations.

  • Add a small amount of feta or goat cheese to a side salad. These cheeses provide a strong flavor to a low-glycemic side dish. Use sparingly, though . . . a little goes a long way!

  • Throw in some twigs of fresh rosemary or thyme while cooking steamed/poached or baked fish. The oils from the fresh herbs soak into the fish providing really great flavor.

  • Classic lemon slices added to fish is one of the all-time best ways to cook. Nothing fancy, but citrus brings out great flavor, especially with salmon.

  • Speaking of lemon, lemon vinaigrette works in many ways. You can use it to toss a green or pasta salad, marinate shrimp or chicken, or dress up roasted or grilled vegetables. Plus the acid of the lemon juice helps to decrease the glycemic load for your meal.

  • Adding a peppery green such as arugula to sandwiches kicks up the flavor a notch while adding low-glycemic veggies.

  • Add goat or feta cheese to roasted vegetables to add a different flavor to strong vegetables like asparagus or green beans.

  • Sprinkle fresh cilantro or parsley to chilies and soups for flavor and more healthy nutrients.

  • Add fresh basil to a basic pasta salad to bring out a stronger flavor.

  • Combine chickpeas (or experiment with other beans) with a light vinaigrette, fresh herbs like basil, and goat or feta cheese for a tasty side dish you can make in less than 5 minutes. Add some cherry tomatoes for more texture and flavor and to lower the glycemic load even more.

    You can eat this warm or cold; just be sure to soak dry beans before cooking them. No need for soaking if you use canned beans.

  • Add all the fresh veggies you have to egg scrambles. One of the easiest ways to use up those last tomatoes or the small amount of spinach left in the refrigerator is to cook them into scrambled eggs to provide a much more flavorful and filling dish. Throw in a little salsa or goat cheese for even more flavor.

  • When cooking grains, always look for what you can add to help with flavor but also to lower the glycemic load. Grains like rice, pasta, or barley are starchy and tend to have a higher-glycemic load.

    Adding assorted vegetables to grains like halved cherry tomatoes and cucumbers or bell peppers helps provide more volume to your side dish while keeping the total amount of grains you eat in check. It's a win-win with flavor and following a low-glycemic lifestyle.

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