With the 2017 National Nutrition Month in full swing, there is no better time than now to learn how to enjoy International Cuisine. Below are a list of cuisines where “putting your best fork forward” does not require a fork!
Japanese: A cuisine rich in fish, vegetables and rice, with many delicious and nutritious options. Chopsticks are used to eat most Japanese Cuisine. While traditional Japanese cuisine is prepared steamed, boiled or raw – be mindful of added sodium and fried preparation methods.
Healthy Japanese Choices:
Steamed Edamame: Perfect as an appetizer – these crisp green beans have a slightly nutty flavor and provide protein and fiber.
Seaweed Salad: Try a different type of green salad that is packed with flavor and includes a good source of many vitamins including B12.
Hiyayakko: Cool tofu topped with daikon, grated ginger or mustard delivers a delectable flavor and gives you the benefit of protein and healthy fat.
Sashimi: Naturally high in protein and satisfying. Select from ikura (salmon), ahi (tuna), ika (squid), kani (crab), ebi (shrimp) and unagi (eel).
Teriyaki: Chicken, salmon, shrimp or tofu with vegetables make a well-balanced meal. Select your choice with brown rice. Ask for your dish to be steamed, and for the sauce to come on the side. This way you can control how much of the teriyaki sauce you use, and save yourself unnecessary calories, fat, sugar and sodium.
Toppings: Apply wasabi and ginger liberally – both rich in spice and antioxidants.
Thai: Traditional Thai dishes require a fork, and a spoon. The spoon is used to move the food you are eating to your mouth, and the fork is used to help push food into the spoon.
Healthy Thai Choices:
Tom Yum Soup: Spicy and sour with ample herbs and spices, this soup will satisfy an adventurous palate. Please note, the soup may be high in sodium.
Summer Rolls: Also known as “fresh spring rolls” this healthy appetizer is typically made with shrimp and vegetables and wrapped in rice paper. Use the peanut dipping sauce sparingly.
Satay: Grilled meat or tofu laced onto bamboo skewers – packed with protein and sure to satisfy. When preparing at home, flavor with lime, turmeric, garlic and red chili. If enjoying out, use the peanut dipping sauce sparingly.
Broth Based Curry: The two most common curries, red and green curry, have fresh herbal flavor and pair well with seafood. Jungle curry (gkaeng bpah) and sour curry (gkaeng som) are popular broth-based soups, without the addition of heavy cream. These curries can be spooned over rice for a fulfilling meal.
Pik Pow (Nam Prik Pao): Also known as “thai vegetarian chili paste” is a flavor-packed paste that is smoky, sweet, tart, and spicy. It can be used in stir-fry’s, as a rub, and used to dip vegetables. And the best part – the paste is extremely flavorful and a little goes a long way.
Pad Thai (without egg, and peanut topping on the side): A fresh, light-bodied dish and truly delicious with the variety of flavors and textures. Substitute egg for firm tofu and use soybean spread to replace the peanuts or peanut butter commonly used in traditional pad thai. This results in a healthy dish packed with plenty of protein and healthy fats. Check out an egg-free recipe here.
Ethiopian: Injera is a flatbread made from teff, a grass (not a grain, like wheat) that’s fermented with water for several days and then baked into large, airy pancakes that have the texture of crepes and the flavor of sourdough bread. Teff flour is incredibly nutritious – high in fiber, iron, calcium, and complete amino acid profile and gluten-free. To eat Ethiopian food, tear off a piece of injera, scoop your food in it, roll it up, pop the whole thing into your mouth – and repeat until satisfied.
Healthy Ethiopian Choices:
Split Pea Stew: Also known as “kik alicha” is a comforting stew made with savory ingredients such as ginger, garlic, red onions, split peas, and green chili. Choose to eat in a bowl or dip with injera.
Yetsom Beyaynetu: A vegetarian combination platter consisting of injera (flatbread) served with several vegan curries and vegetables–a light and healthy appetizer choice that gives you the ability to try a variety of curry.
Shiro Wat: A spicy chickpea-based dish seasoned with onions, garlic, and other spices. Use this as a dip for vegetables or injera. Chickpeas are a great source of fiber and protein.
Misir Wat: This red lentil curry made with garlic, olive oil, ginger, and onion–this is a great option if you are looking for a spicy, warm stew.
Shiro Alecha: A mild stew of seasoned ground lentils, chickpeas and/or peas. This is a terrific option to be served with injera if you are looking for a dish with a milder flavor profile.
Gomen: Ethiopian style collard greens – perfect for your little leafy green lover. Pairs perfectly with fresh lemon juice! When preparing at home add paprika, ginger root, turmeric and all spice for flavor and a boost of antioxidants.
Chicken Doro Wat: A flavorful chicken dish served in a slightly spicy sauce containing ginger and berbere over injera. The key: slowly simmer the chicken for enhanced flavor.
Mexican: Eating tacos with a fork and knife is unacceptable in the Mexican culture. Therefore, be polite: use your hands to enjoy tacos. Mexican cuisine is filled with flavors and ingredients such as cilantro, garlic, avocado, beans, onion, chili’s, and more. Maize, also known as corn, is a staple grain that is commonly used in this cuisine. Maize is the main ingredient in tortillas: used for burritos, quesadillas, and tacos.
Healthy Mexican Choices:
Salsa de Pina Picante: A sweet and fresh salsa option made with pineapple, cilantro, and lime juice. Enjoy with multi grain tortillas for a light, tropical appetizer. Want to make at home – try this recipe.
Guacamole: Made from mashed avocados, guacamole is packed with healthy fats. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, jalapenos, and cilantro–these ingredients can give a kick of flavor to your traditional guacamole.
Turkey Tacos: Great if you’re looking for a quick, easy taco dinner. Use lean ground turkey instead of ground beef, and wheat tortillas over traditional white tortilla. Add avocado, tomato, lettuce, and as much cilantro and chili as you like – for full flavor.
Sopa de Habas: This fava bean soup is filled with a flavorful aromatic base of tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Not to mention, fava beans are very nutrient-dense, containing folate and iron.
Chicken Carnitas Tacos: Crispy, tender chicken with hints of lime, cumin, garlic, and– orange juice! These ingredients give your chicken carnitas a unique, pleasant taste and allows you to top it with your choice of veggies and herbs. The last step: stuff it all in a wheat tortilla.
We would love to hear what International Cuisine you try and enjoy – no fork required! And in the meantime…