The Other 23

3 Ways to Add Flavor to Healthy Meals

By Mike Roussell, PhD

Spoiler alert: healthy foods are rarely synonymous with delicious foods. But no, that doesnt mean that world class athletes live off only bland chicken breasts and flavorless broccoli mush. The secret to eating for muscle and athleticism (and hitting your critical protein marks) is to find smart ways to flavor your food.

Often, we think flavor means high-fat, high-salt foods, but when top chefs prep food for the worlds best athletes, theyll often use three simple tricks to keep dishes healthy – and enjoyable.



Adding a touch of heat or spice instantly elevates any meal – especially one thats low in salt.

Try adding chili peppers, hot sauce, or cayenne pepper to any dish near the end of cooking; each can bring a subtle warmth to your food or a fiery kick, depending on your preference. A bonus: Heat also slightly boosts your metabolism, because spices like cayenne contain capsaicin, a compound known to increase calorie burn.


Fresh and dried herbs can transform a simple bland dish into a flavorful, antioxidant-packed meal. Try herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme, or rosemary. Rosemary and thyme pair well with roasted meats and veggies, while basil and cilantro invigorate any salad. The best part: Each herb includes anti-inflammatory compounds that can speed recovery.


Lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar make dishes taste fresher and more vibrant. Much like heat, youll want to add these at the end of your cooking. Focus on adding acid to bitter foods – like kale or brussell sprouts – for best results. Vinegar has an added upside too: It can lower your blood sugar response to a meal.


AUTHOR BIO: Mike Roussell, PhD

Mike Roussell, PhD, is an author, speaker, and nutrition strategist who has spent more than 20 years transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits that change lives.

His clients have included NBA all-stars, tech execs, and TV personalities.

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