By Sara Cann
Do you still act like the kid on the school lunch line who grumbles when he's served a pile of flaccid carrots? Here's a weird trick: Staring at a picture of a T-bone beforehand may make your vegetables more enjoyable, according to a new study in PLoS ONE.
When you view a salivating picture, your orbital frontal cortex, the region of the brain responsible for coding pleasant experiences, lights up and convinces your tongue that the bland food you're eating is tastier than it actually is, explains study author Johannes Le Coutre, Ph.D, head of perception physiology at Nestle Research Center in Switzerland.
We don't expect you to carry around pictures of juicy steaks or blistered pizza, but you can make your own healthy meals look and taste more like caloric feasts. We've recruited food stylist Brian Preston-Campbell, who is also a trained chef, to give us a few tips on how to make the following five health foods more tantalizing.
Related: Takeout That Delivers
1. Broccoli: Salt It
Green vegetables should always be cooked in salted boiling water because it not only seasons the produce, but enhances the color. Then shock them in ice water to halt the cooking process and lock in that emerald beauty.
2. Cauliflower: Add Color
"Steamed white cauliflower is a food stylist's death knell, only made worse when it is paired with steamed chicken breast or baked tilapia in a white butter sauce," says Preston-Campbell. One remedy? Leave some stem on the florets to help to break up the rounded tops of the cauliflower pieces and add a little contrast. Then add some color and texture to the dish with breadcrumbs, herbs, or spices. You can also mix it with colorful vegetables. (Need more great ways to spice up your food? Watch how chef Eddie Huang reinvents junk food.)
3. Yogurt: Strain It
Line a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter or clean paper towel, and place on top of a bowl to catch the yogurt's liquid. Pour in the yogurt, and drain overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, you'll be left with a thick, velvety yogurt that can hold a swirled texture (like a spiraling cone of soft serve).
4. Kale: Perfect Its Color
Buy the freshest, most vibrantly green bunch you can find, you want to start with a quality product. Then heavily salt the water to perk up the color and boil for only one or two minutes, just to soften these hardy leaves. Then, saute for about 5 minutes (don't let it brown) with some garlic, pine nuts, bacon or pepper flakes for added color and flavor. Avoid mixing in acids such as vinegar or lemon juice, which will make these leaves wilt in vibrancy and texture. (Start stripping off extra pounds with the newly expanded 2012 edition of Eat This, Not That!)
5. Tilapia: Keep It Moist
Tilapia doesn't look appetizing because it's flat, white, and simply not as exciting as a thick piece of bright red tuna or fresh fillet of salmon. Cooking this fish in a tomato broth will add color and keep the fish moist. Follow Preston-Campbell's recipe: Puree two cored and coarsely chopped tomatoes, the juice of half a lemon, a dash of dried oregano, and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a blender. Salt and pepper to taste. Strain into a saute pan and bring to a simmer. Place the tilapia fillets in the pan and poach the fish (just below a simmer on low heat, don't let it boil!) until they are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
More from Men's Health:
- Cauliflower Power
- Your Grocery Aisle Survival Guide
- 3 Kitchen Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making
- Americans Ate a TON of Food Last Year!
More from The Body Odd: