My friends always say to me, “that looks so good!” or, “where’d you get that?” then when I tell them how I did it, they say something like “that was a smart idea!” followed by, “how’d you come up with that?”
I love flavor. I love reading cookbooks and cooking magazines. When I’m not in the kitchen baking, I’m scrolling through recipes on Pinterest for persimmons (sweet and savory? Inconceivable!). I was raised in the kitchen. I was handed a cutting board as soon as my nose could graze the counter. My passion for food is undoubtedly awarded to my parents, who convinced me to try new things. They taught me how to hold a knife properly and julienne basil.
Trust is trying something new.
Step out of your comfort zone, expand your taste buds and be bold with flavor. Once you start doing this, composing a meal will come naturally. To start off, however, I have five simple tricks to keep in mind when roaming through the dining hall.
#1 Look at Everything First
I know this may seem obvious, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people walk into the dining hall, grab a plate, and absent mindedly plop a scoop of what ever is on the main line. Breathe– walk by all the stations, then decide. Food shouldn’t be a rushed or rash decision. Plus, you’ll avoid the whole “Aw man! Where was that?” ordeal we sometimes face when everyone congregates back at the table.
#2 Combine Stations
What do I mean by this? I mean, mix the roasted butternut squash in your lentil salad from the vegan station, or put the chicken chesterfield on homemade sandwich bread and have it toasted at the deli. Better yet, skip the stir-fry line and make your own version of a Buddha bowl, with steamed kale and curried cauliflower from daily fare, rice from the stir-fry station, and chickpeas from the salad bar.
#3 Keep a Track Record
Now’s your chance to be a food critic! Write down the meals you’ve enjoyed, the ingredients that were used, and why it worked. Not only is this a great way to hone your palette, but it also helps you become a mindful eater. If you’re like me, (and other foodies) and could talk hours on end about the best meal you’ve ever had, then maybe you should consider joining Slow Food, or looking into the Nutrition Programs UNH has to offer.
#4 Remember Your Recipes
I once mixed Sriracha with honey, vinegar, and soy sauce, put it on rice, fresh veggies, and diced mango from the yogurt bar. What I tasted was a sweet and spicy fusion of fresh flavor. Now it’s on the top of my go-to list. Another thing to remember is, don’t underestimate the flavor of condiments! Sriracha ketchup? How about olive oil, Dijon mustard, minced parsley from the stir-fry station, and a lemon wedge for a refreshing, homemade vinaigrette? Get creative! You’ll be surprised by what you can come up with.
#5 Listen to Your Body
Literally– go with your gut. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t stress about missing the target every now and then. If you’re feeling brave, toast some pita bread and make tzatziki sauce with ingredients from the yogurt bar and stir-fry station, but if you’re not that’s fine too! Thankfully, we go to a school where we’re lucky enough to have dining facilities that care about what they are serving the UNH community. So while you’re busy being a full-time student, they’re busy preparing wholesome delicious meals.