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What is “good nutrition”? And how do you know you’re getting what you need?

March is National Nutrition Month, and is a good time to assess your nutritional habits for ways to improve. Nutrition is “the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.” However, good nutrition means getting the proper amount of nutrients to achieve optimum health, which is a key to lowering your risk of chronic disease.

National Nutrition Month encourages everyone to develop mindful eating habits that include nutritious and flavorful foods. Eating healthy does not mean that you have to give up taste.

Here are five tips on how to awaken your health-conscious taste buds:

1. Try new cooking methods.

Eating vegetables no longer has to be a chore! If you’re sick of the plain taste of steamed veggies, try sautéing or roasting them for more flavor. Throw a variety of your favorite vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, and carrots are a good combo!) in the pan, with some garlic, onion, and seasoning for a delicious stir fry. Try roasting bell peppers—it brings out more sweetness as the natural sugars caramelize and tastes amazing. If you’re craving dessert, try grilling fruits, such as pineapple and peaches, for a sweet and satisfying treat.

2. Spice it up!

Say goodbye to bland protein and veggies! A great way to add taste without the addition of fat and calories is to add more spices. Experiment with seasoning mixes and rubs for new flavor till you find the ones you like best. You can also add citrus zest and fresh herbs for a delicious garnish.

Cut back on salt and add a dash of cumin or cayenne pepper for a kick of heat. Instead of adding salt and pepper right before you grill chicken, marinate it in your favorite blend of spices overnight to pack in the flavor.

3. Focus on variety.

Expand your range of food choices for more nutrition and eating pleasure. The more color and variety you add to your plate, the more appealing it will look, and probably taste better too! Don’t get stuck with eating chicken breast and broccoli every day. Explore the vast array of vegetables sold at your local supermarket. You can even experiment with different types of vegetables—fresh, frozen, and canned. You don’t have to just eat the same boring chicken, try turkey, lean ground beef, tuna, or salmon. The possibilities are endless!

4. Choose healthy substitutes for your favorite snacks.

Healthy snacks can give you a boost of energy during the day, whereas junk food can result in a sugar crash and fatigue. If you’re going to need an afternoon pick-me-up, opt for a delicious, healthy treat to help you power through your long work or school day ahead. Munch on carrots with humus instead of potato chips, or some fruit instead of candy—they taste just as good, or even better!

5. Look up healthy recipes.

Eating healthy might get boring if you’re fixing up the same meals over and over again. If you want to reboot your diet with healthy, delicious recipes, there are a ton of credible websites (including our own!) that can bring diversity to your palate. Some examples are:

  • – Cooking Light magazine’s website offers a ton of healthy recipes with great photos. Each recipe lists the nutritional information so it’s good for calorie-counting.
  •– Everyone loves the Food Network. Their website has a special section titled “Healthy Eating” which features light versions of recipes like mac-n-cheese and chocolate cake. Yummy!
  • – This website is completely dedicated to healthy eating. It includes a large variety of recipes for kids’ meals, holidays and special occasions, and specialty diet.

It is more likely that you’ll stick to a healthful eating plan if it’s both tasty and balanced with the essential nutrients. With an open-mind and some creativity, healthy eating can be delicious—and fun!