Celebrate A World Of Flavors

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is Celebrate a World of Flavors. Celebrating flavors from cultures around the world is a tasty way to nourish ourselves and appreciate our diversity. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes!

Enjoying different flavors of the world is a chance to learn more about your own food culture as well as those that may be new to you. Familiar ingredients can be presented in new ways and new foods may remind you of things you already know and love. You may also come across ingredients and flavors you’ve never experienced before.

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you create healthy habits that celebrate your heritage and introduce you to new foods and flavors. If you aren’t ready to ask someone for help, one easy step you can take is to plan your meals and snacks. This weekend, sit down and ask the family what foods they would like to have for the week. Include some familiar dish’s but find out what culture they might want to explore foods from. When they recommend a country like Italy, don’t explore the traditional spaghetti dish, instead choose something like a Frittata or Gnocchi.

Once you have selected the unique dish for the week, involve the family in the preparation. This will help them learn key skills in food preparation, increase family bonding, but also create excitement around the new food, increasing the likelihood they will like it. A Frittata is an egg dish similar to an omelet. When you involve them in the process they can find all the similarities to foods they know well. Maybe even, make the connection to foods in other cultures that are similar, like the quiche.

One fun step to add to this new food, is to explore the history behind that dish. Why did a food like the crepe originate in France, why is goulash a common Hungarian dish and how did those dish’s make it to the United States?

As a Registered Dietitian I would be remised if I didn’t mention the importance of adding fruits and vegetable to your plate. Exploring other cultures food will give you the opportunity to explore new fruits and veggies and find new ways to use them. I love to add cabbage to stir fry, broccoli to my frittata, whole wheat and strawberries to my crepes and beans to my goulash. Countries near the coast line often serve many fish dish’s as well.

Most importantly have fun. Take a food tour of an international grocery store, find a new restaurant to enjoy and take a virtual tour of another country’s food markets. There is a lot to learn about other cultures and food is a great way to do it. If you need a place to start, reach out and I will be glad to help.

Monica Nagele is the County Extension Director and educator of health and human science for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension.