Don’t get us wrong, we wouldn’t turn down an expensive, three-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant – but very often the most delicious meals are actually the simplest: home cooking that is often taken for granted in its country of origin is often the most delicious, and sometimes it can be the healthiest, too. This is what we’re homing in on today: here are five staples from around the world that you should consider trying in your own diet.
Dahl, also spelled dal, is common throughout India and made from different types of beans. It has a number of variations depending upon what region of the country a specific receipt originates from. For example, you will see more mung beans, used to make Mung dal, in the south, and more yellow split peas, used to make Chana dal, when the recipe comes from the north.
This recipe calls for the beans to be soaked overnight and simmered until the beans are tender. They are then mixed with seasonings like cumin, turmeric, ginger, chilly oil, or coriander. Healthy and delicious.
Borscht comes to us from Eastern Europe, where it has been eaten for generations in areas like Ukraine and Poland. It combines beets, potatoes, beans, cabbage, and other staples, depending upon the precise recipe used. The nutrient-rich ingredients and delightful flavor make it a great soup to add to your rotation.
Lentil soup originates in countless cultures and regions, with traditional recipes hailing from Europe, South America, and the Middle East. This soup will generally call for any colored dehulled lentil that will disintegrate while cooking. These lentils then form the base for the soup and can be combined with a variety of other vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, onion, and various seasonings, depending upon the recipe. This is a cheap and varied soup to add to your rotation, particularly in the winter on cold evenings.
Boiled or fried plantains
Plantains bear some resemblance to bananas, as they are in the same genus. However, unlike bananas, people consume cooked plantains. This staple is popular in West and Central Africa in addition to the Caribbean and South America along the coast.
You can enjoy this staple either fried or boiled. To fry them, simply slice the plantain into thin slices and then heat the oil in a pan and fry until they are golden. If you want to boil them, cut them slightly thicker– so you get about three pieces per plantain– and then boil until they are tender. In either recipe, season with hot sauce as desired.
The flatbread chapatis has a traditional region that stretches from East Africa to the Arabian Peninsula over to the Indian subcontinent. These delicious circular pieces of bread call for just finely ground wheat flour, salt, and water. The dough then forms round balls, flattened, and cooked on both sides. You can then serve it with various dishes and toppings for a complete meal.
As modern people, we have access to an incredibly rich menu of foods that come from around the world. Those interested in expanding their palates or improving their diets can look at some of these important staples from around the world to see if any of these might fit their own menus well.
Making sure that you’re getting enough protein can be difficult when you’re on a vegetarian diet. After all, the main sources of protein come from meat, meaning that you have to stick to certain foods and supplements. You also might not be an experienced chef, making things even more difficult. However, there are some recipes that are packed with protein while still being meatless and easy to make. Here are five of those recipes that you’re sure to love once you try them out.
5. Broccoli Casserole
A casserole is a great main dish that you don’t have to put a lot of preparation time into while still being able to get a filling dish that serves an entire family twice over. To make a perfect broccoli casserole, you’ll also need a cup of quinoa. There are other ingredients in the mix that include Greek yogurt, milk, pepper, garlic and onion powder, so if you’re vegan it isn’t the best option, but vegetarians will enjoy this dish tremendously.
4. Bean and Potato Tacos
We all love tacos, and if you’re a vegetarian, it’s one of those things that you miss the absolute most. Never to fear, you can still make tacos if you’re vegetarian, they’ll just be a little bit different. Instead of using meat and a lot of the grease that comes with it, try using black beans and sweet potatoes. That combination is filled with protein and fiber, allowing you to get that full feeling that tacos usually provide. Throw in some salsa, onions, peppers or whatever ingredients you want and it will be like you’re not missing meat at all.
3. Vegan Chickpea Meatballs
If you’re looking for a recipe that’s not only high in protein and vegetarian friendly but also doesn’t contain any dairy, try this vegan chickpea meatball recipe that’s made from chickpeas and quinoa. You’ll need one can of chickpeas, one cup of quinoa to make your meatballs. You’ll also want to include pecans, bread crumbs and all of the seasoning that you’d like. To really spice things up, you can make a polenta to go with it using vegetable stock and dairy free cheese and butter.
2. Lentil Pancakes
When you’re in a breakfast mood and really want some protein, you’re pretty much limited to sausage and bacon. However, you can still get all the protein you need and great flavor while still going meatless. Take a banana, a half cup of lentils, Greek yogurt and a few other ingredients and blend them together. Pour the blend onto a non-stick pan and cook the mixture into pancakes. You can top these off with fruit or yogurt to really make them flavorful for a great start to your day.
1. Farmer’s Breakfast
Lentil pancakes aren’t the only thing that can satisfy all of your vegetarian protein needs during breakfast time. Try out this classic farmer’s breakfast with some familiar ingredients. Two potatoes, some olive oil, onion, eggs, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper all combine with a quarter cup of mozzarella to establish a strong start to your day. It’s only about 30 minutes from start to finish to make this breakfast, and at 540 calories with a ton of protein you’ll be good to go.
Lennon and McCartney, Sonny and Cher, bananas and mayonnaise? There are some duos that are well known across the world, but then there are some that are very esoteric. This is mostly in the food world where we combine ingredients to capture the perfect taste. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it can be amazing. Here are some unique and unlikely food pairings that you’re sure to like.
10. Oreos and Orange Juice
Chocolate and citrus have gone together in a great way for some people for a long time. So have milk and Oreos, but milk tends to make your cookies extremely soggy and crumbly. Instead, try using orange juice for a great kick of citrus while keeping the structural integrity of your Oreo intact.
9. Pickles and Pizza
While there have been wars waged over whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza, many people have been letting pickle pizza fly under the radar. We’re starting to see it more frequently in national pizza chains and for good reason. Give it about 10 years and we bet that pickles will be just as polarizing as pineapple.
8. Mango and Chile
An extremely popular combination if you’re south of the border in Mexico, the combination of mango and chile is starting to catch on further north. The spiciness combined with the sweetness is a unique combination that hits every one of your taste buds in just the right way.
7. Chicken and Waffles
Of course, we can’t talk about odd food pairings without mentioning perhaps the most famous one. Fried chicken on top of waffles with a smothering of syrup is an American classic, especially if you’re visiting the south.
6. Steak and Berries
It might sound pretty weird to have berries included on your steak, but is it really? We tend to eat salads with protein like chicken that have blueberries and strawberries, so why should steak be any different? After all, it’s just another protein.
5. Peanut Butter and Potato Chips
We like salty things and we like sweet things, it’s simple science. Peanut butter and potato chips combined hit all of the right spots. This is especially true when you add chocolate to the mix, which is why Reese’s came out with a peanut butter cup that also included a potato chip in the middle.
4. Jelly and Hamburger
At first thought, it might be crazy to put jelly on your hamburger (it might already seem weird enough that a lot more people are using peanut butter). But when you think about it, it makes sense. A lot of people use grape jelly when making meatballs, and what are hamburgers besides just large meatballs in patty form?
3. Milk and Popcorn
Popcorn on its own without all of the butter and salt is basically a breakfast cereal, right? There has been a growing number of people that have been eating bowls of popcorn with milk in lieu of cereal, citing that it’s just as good if not better.
2. Bananas and Mayonnaise
People tend to get a bit wild with their sandwiches, and combining bananas with condiments is one way they do just that. Perhaps the most perplexing combination is bananas with mayo, which a lot of people scoff at upon seeing, but change their minds when trying it out.
1. French Fries and Ice Cream
This really shouldn’t work, but if you’ve been to a Wendy’s, there’s a great chance that you’ve seen someone dip their French fries in their Frosty and enjoyed it.
The worst part about trying to get healthy or lose weight is trying to figure out what you actually can eat. It seems that there’s a million different foods that people tell you to avoid, but not all of them in the general consensus list are actually bad. Some foods that have been banned from many diets can actually be healthy in some variants or even as they are. Before you give up on some of your favorite foods, consider the benefits that they might have. Here are five foods that are healthier than you might think.
5. Red Meat
There’s been quite a big stigma when it comes to red meat, especially in the past 20 years or so. These days, people think that red meat is an express ticket to heart disease or cancer without considering that it can be good for your body in smaller portions. Many red meats tend to be lower in calories and contain no carbohydrates. Red meat packs in a lot of protein, as well as valuable nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium.
Just like red meat, eggs belong in that group of foods that were once wildly popular before trends started to say that they were unhealthy. The biggest reason eggs became ostracized is because of the cholesterol content. One egg contains over 200 mg of cholesterol, meaning that two eggs would put you well over the daily recommendation. However, 70 percent of people that eat eggs don’t tend to have higher cholesterol, and this food contains several key nutrients such as selenium, calcium, zinc and more.
3. Chicken Wings
Chicken wings have always been popular, but more and more people are becoming experts on the food and there’s a lot of different ways to make a good wing. However, chicken wings are mostly seen as unhealthy because of the way that most restaurants prepare them. Deep fried wings with a lot of breading can be extremely unhealthy, but you don’t have to sacrifice health for good taste. Try throwing some naked wings with seasoning into an air fryer and you’ll get a lot of protein and vitamins that your body needs.
2. Peanut Butter
When people are trying to lose weight, peanut butter is one of the first things to go. That’s because peanut butter is high in calories and carbohydrates. However, peanut butter also has a solid amount of protein and healthy fats. The nutrition of peanut butter causes you to feel full and can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Of course, you don’t want to eat an entire jar all at once, but using a small amount each day goes a long way.
Just like peanut butter, potatoes are thought to make you gain weight instantly and will fill your body with carbs. Potatoes, like chicken wings, can be bad for you if you’re frying them and covering them in various high fat sauces. A baked potato on its own though is very beneficial. Potatoes can help control your blood sugar and provide your body with antioxidants and even throw in fiber to help you feel fuller for longer.
It seems that every few years or so, there’s one nutrient that society starts to avoid like the plague or places on such a high pedestal that we tend to overdo it just a bit. There’s the low fat phase that we all went through, good fats, low carbs, etc. These days, many people have an obsession with protein. Whether you’re trying to put on muscle or lose fat, protein seems to be the most popular answer. Of course, that’s not a bad thing, but do you need as much protein as your average armchair nutritionist is suggesting?
A diet that’s high in protein tends to go hand in hand with a low carb diet. Protein packed foods that first come to mind for people include most types of meat alongside eggs. If your goal is to try and shed fat and build muscle, it’s vital to get these types of foods into your diet, but there could be some negative long term effects. Those that suffer from gout or kidney stones are more apt to see severe symptoms due to an increase in uric acid. For anyone that’s had either of these ailments before, you know how painful that can be.
So how much protein is the right amount for the average person? Naturally, it all depends on your size, so it’s easier to break it down by percentage of your diet and your age. At the very low end, 10 percent of the calories you eat should come from protein. You don’t want to go higher than 35 percent, or else you’re putting yourself at risk for adverse side effects. In fact, too much protein on a daily basis could lead to chronic illness or even death via protein poisoning. This is when your body goes too long without taking in carbohydrates or fats.
For those under the age of 40, nutritionists suggest that you get about 0.4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight (or 0.8 grams per kilogram). If you’re a 200 pound person, this would come out to around 80 grams of protein per day. When you cross the 40 year old barrier, it’s important to increase your protein intake as your body loses muscle naturally as you get older. With that in mind, increasing to 1.2 grams per kilogram is suggested.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find foods that are high in protein, as seemingly every company is touting their protein content right on the label. Just be mindful to not obsess with getting a massive amount of protein on a daily basis, though. “High protein and low carbohydrate diet is one such fad diet that has been claimed by some to help reduce weight and maintain it at healthy levels,” says Dr. Ananya Mandal. “Like other fad diets, high protein diet failed to live up to its expectations.” In one major study, Dr. Mandal found that over the course of six months; those that followed a diet focused around high protein didn’t lead to more weight loss than some of the other controlled “fad” diets.
Everyone has heard of curry, and likely have tried it at least once. However, there are so many types of curry that you’ve likely only tried a handful of them. There are countless different ways to prepare curry, with various parts of the world coming up with their own unique spin. If you’re looking to broaden your curry horizons and find something that might fit into your weekly schedule, you’re in luck. Here are some curry dishes that you likely have never heard of, but are sure to excite your taste buds.
5. Mutton Paya
Mutton paya, or mutton trotters, is typically a breakfast curry that’s served in India and can vary by region. Mutton paya is used with garlic and onions and mutton is added to the recipe to get things going. It just takes a few minutes to mix the ingredients (which also includes whole spices and oil) and all in all is only about a 30 minutes process. For the best results you can slow cook your mutton paya overnight or you can pick a different type of meat.
4. Kori Rotti
A main course that comes from the Tulunadu region of India, Kori Rotti is made when you combine a chicken curry with coconut milk and combine it with red chili, rice and wafers. Just make sure that you prepare your tongue for this dish, though, as it’s incredibly spicy (but tastes amazing). The preparation does take some time (at over an hour for cooking and prep) and will quickly become your new favorite.
3. Lucknowi Nihari Gosht
A curry that’s typically reserved for special occasions like the holiday of Eid, Nihari Gosht was once a royal dish that has caught on with everyone. There are a lot of ingredients that go into a good dish, including cinnamon, bay leaves and nutmeg mixed with yogurt. This dish takes a little bit longer to prepare, taking around an hour and a half from beginning to end. This colorful dish looks appetizing before you even start digging in, and the extra wait is worth it for the taste.
2. Kozhi Ishtew
Kozhi Ishtew is a very versatile curry since it doesn’t require a lot of expensive ingredients, has a short prep time and is able to appeal to a wide range of tastes and spice tolerance. You’ll need chicken as the main part of this curry and can be prepared through baking, steaming or whichever way will be easiest for you. Adding in potatoes, coconut, peppercorns and more, you can get yourself a great bowl of Kozhi Ishtew.
1. Massaman Curry
We finish off the list with a visit to Thailand for the beloved Massaman curry, which is a fusion of several other dishes and uses a slew of interesting ingredients. Among them are sugar, peanuts, onions, coconut milk and much more. The first published recipe actually called for orange juice to give a citrusy taste. The history of Massaman curry is actually quite long, dating back to the 17th century and has become a regional favorite. If given some more time, we may see this dish become one of the most popular in the world.
As the years go on, fewer and fewer people are eating their meals at home. With the time crunch that we all experience, it’s tempting to grab something quick to eat for our meals. These days, only around 36 percent of people cook at home each day, though the COVID-19 pandemic boosted the numbers. Now, more people are starting to get back into the kitchen, and they’re seeing the benefits. Here’s why you should join those that have fallen in love with cooking all over again:
5. Save Money
Let’s say that you want to feed a family of four but you want to get out of the house for dinner. When you do this, you have some options. You probably don’t want to pay a ton for fine dining, but casual dining (like Applebee’s) costs about $14 per person, while fast casual clocks in at $12 per person and fast food at $6. When you’re dining at home, however, you can knock that cost down tremendously. At stores such as Aldi, you can make a balanced meal for everyone that checks in at about $1.50 per person.
4. Weight Management
When we think of fast food or other forms of dining out, we tend to think of massive portions that lead to weight gain. This has been talked about in reports and studies ad nauseum, but you can fight off the extra pounds by eating at home. You’re able to control your portions much easier, while also avoiding some of the hidden calories that the menus may not tell you about. Those that cook at home regularly consume an average of 1,050 fewer calories per week. That alone would cause you to avoid 15.6 pounds of weight gain in a year.
3. Easier to Control Allergens
Are you one of the many, many people that has to deal with a food allergy on a daily basis? Take lactose intolerance for example. If you can’t have any sort of dairy, you may as well skip places like Taco Bell where it seems everything is smothered in cheese. When you’re cooking at home, though, you’re able to control every bite. Walking quietly through the grocery store is much easier than asking the waiter what all comes on the 32 ingredient salad.
2. Better for Mental Health
One of the many reasons why people tend to eat out so often is due to depression. At times, you feel like you may not be able to muster up the energy to cook for yourself. Studies have shown that cooking meals can be therapeutic and improve mental health, though. “If the activity is defined as personally rewarding or giving a sense of accomplishment or pleasure, or even seeing the pleasure of that pumpkin bread with chocolate chips making someone else happy, then it could improve a sense of well-being,” says professor Jacqueline Gollan of Northwestern University.
1. Quality Time
Another one of the main reasons why people eat out so frequently is due to a lack of time. Studies have shown that people who prepare meals at home, however, are actually saving themselves time. There are no lines at home, you’re not counting on someone else doing the prep work and, most importantly, you’re getting to spend time with your family that you can’t put a price on.
Whether you eat at home every day or not, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time each day in the kitchen. You may be cooking, cleaning, warming up leftovers or anything in between, but it is a lot of time. For those that want to reduce their time spent in the kitchen and get more time elsewhere, there are some gadgets that can save you plenty, and here are five of the best for doing just that.
While you might think of the Roomba (or any device that automatically cleans your floor) as something that’s more suited for the living room, these are also super handy in the kitchen. When you’re chopping up a ton of different vegetables, there are going to be some that get on the floor. It’s not just veggies, either, as you’re likely to make the floor messy in a million different ways. For that reason, the Roomba is a great tool to help take your mind off of the cleaning aspect of the kitchen and focus on cooking.
4. Good Knives
If you want to make the chef in your family or group of friends cry tears of joy, get them a set of really good knives for their birthday or a holiday. That’s because it’s the most valuable tool that you can have in your kitchen, and it will save you a lot of time when cutting up your ingredients. It’s not just a good set of knives that you’ll be needing, either. You want to make sure you pick up a knife sharpener, and the technology has made these into fun gadgets for your kitchen while also being affordable.
3. Food Scale
Have you ever tried to guesstimate how much you’ll need of a certain ingredient only to have it where you cooked something for too long or not long enough? Instead of using annoying measuring cups for solids like meat, try using a food scale instead. This will allow you to know precisely how much you’re putting into your meals and takes away a lot of the time spent trying to figure out if it’s too much or too little. It’s also a great tool for calorie counting.
2. All-in-One Air Fryer/Instant Pot
When the air fryer trend started to take off, there were many people that brushed it aside saying that it was nothing more than a convection oven. In the years since, though, the air fryer has become one of the most versatile tools that you can use. These days, air fryers are capable of more than just heating up your food. They now can broil, bake, reheat, dehydrate and more. Along with the air fryer is the instant pot, and no matter which way you go (or both), you’ll be getting a lot of use out of both.
1. Food Processor
Not to be confused with the similar blender, a food processor is capable of so many things. On top of making smoothies, you can also grate cheese, knead dough and so much more. These aren’t very expensive, either, costing around $100 these days for a really good one. If you don’t feel much like using a knife to prepare meals, this might be the way to go.
Rice is one of the most popular foods in the entire world for a lot of reasons. Rice tastes great, it’s filling and it’s very affordable. The average American will eat over 25 pounds of rice per year. That may sound like a lot, but that’s nothing compared to Asia where the average person eats 300 pounds of rice. You’ve probably had rice in a lot of different ways, but when you’re cooking it yourself, there are some tips that you should follow. Here’s how you can make sure that your rice is top notch.
5. Always Rinse
The first thing that we should always do when making rice is to rinse it out. Why is this? When we rinse rice, it gets rid of the starch that builds up. Starch is what causes grains of rice to stick together, and we all know how much of a pain clumpy rice can be for your meal. If you think that you aren’t rinsing enough, you may be right. There’s no such thing as over rinsing, so don’t be afraid to get liberal with the rice.
4. Water Ends There
Water is great for rinsing your rice, but you don’t have to use water when you’re actually cooking your rice. For a better flavor that gets the job done in the same amount of time, try something such as chicken or beef broth. There is going to be a much higher sodium count when doing so, but the taste is second to none. Try to play around with the ratio of stock and rice so that you can get it right since it seems that no golden ratio always works. In fact, try using a little less water/stock than recipes call for.
3. Don’t Touch the Lid
When we’re cooking anything, we’re tempted to check on it every few seconds and see the progress. Rice is no exception, but it’s one of those foods that you shouldn’t be checking. Instead, leave the lid on and trust the process. If you follow the recipe to the letter, you won’t have to lift the lid. Lifting the lid messes up the cooking process and will not only add a lot of time to your preparation, but will also negatively affect the quality of the finished product.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Oven
For rice, a lot of people think that it can only be prepared correctly by using a rice cooker. The oven isn’t something that many think of, but it can be just as effective if you don’t have a rice cooker. If you preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and then boil your rice, you can place the pot into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (for white rice). This will make things cook evenly and give you a nice fluff that tastes great.
1. Don’t Eat Right Away
As it is with any meal, we want to eat right away. The smells and the growing hunger tend to get to us and we dig in as soon as the cooking is finished. However, for rice, you should be leaving it off the heat for 15 minutes after it has cooked. You’ll get better consistency from your rice as the moisture settles and you’ll be happy that you were just a bit patient.
Who doesn’t love soup? The answer is not many people. In one major survey, 95 percent of Americans said that they at least like soup, with that same batch of people having a “love” opinion or are eating it on a regular basis. How do you eat your soup, though? Most tend to stick to the cans of premade soup, while others opt to make their own. If you want to join the ranks of soup makers, here are five essential tips that you need to know beforehand.
5. Stock Up
If you really want your soup to stand out so that it tastes like your own, try making your own stock. This is going to be the cornerstone of your soup, so make sure to load up on what you’ll need. You can stick to the basic vegetable stock or you can go big with chicken or beef stock. Consider what kind of soup you want to make first and then gather the ingredients, place them in a pot of water and cover it up, allowing it to simmer after boiling.
4. Skip the Cream
Cream tends to be a favorite for those that are making soup since it helps with the consistency, but it’s not going to be good for you. That’s because cream is heavy in calories and saturated fat, and you don’t want to make an otherwise healthy food option into an unhealthy one. Think of it as a salad with too much ranch dressing. As an alternative, try to use almond milk or Greek yogurt, which will keep the same consistency.
3. Spice Things Up
When you’re making your stock/soup, don’t be afraid to try out some new spices. Each recipe that you find is going to have its own take, but try out some things that you may not have considered before. If it’s a spice that you like, but is rarely found in most soups, why not try it for yourself? After all, the stakes are pretty low when you’re making soup since it’s not an expensive undertaking. Experiment a little bit and you may be passing down a family recipe of your own.
2. Eyes on the Clock
To make your soup perfect, you’ll want to keep a keen eye on how long you’re cooking. It will all depend on the ingredients that you’re using for your soup. If you plan on using chicken or beef instead of vegetables, soup will naturally need to be cooked for longer. Also, smaller vegetables will cook very quickly compared to more dense ones, so you have to take that into consideration as well. It could take several hours when all is said and done, but it will be worth it.
1. Make Too Much
The best way to ensure that you’ll have enough soup for everybody is to make more than you think you need. Not only that, but it should be easier to get the correct cooking time compared to a much smaller portion that can be finished before you know it. Soup is also great for leftovers, so having too much is always going to be a good thing. Soup can last for a few days in the refrigerator and even longer if placed in the freezer.