Plating Tips: 3 Easy Makeovers

We’ve heard the phrase, “we eat with our eyes” — but is it true? Dr. Brian Wansink’s research shows that the typical consumer makes more than 200 decisions about food every day. External food cues, such as packages, labels, colors, shapes, smells, distractions, containers, and social influences, have been found to have a greater impact on our food choices over our true hunger.

Think about the last meal or snack you enjoyed at a café, diner or restaurant. The food on the plate probably looked more appetizing than your last cooked meal at home. Restaurants use many special techniques to make their dishes look more appealing.

Tips for Adding Taste, Texture and Eye Appeal
Changing the way you plate your meals may help entice your taste buds and even get your pickiest eater to try something new. Here are some tips to spice up the look of your food:

1. It starts with plating:
• Brightly colored foods attract our attention. Look to combine brightly colored vegetables and fruits into your recipes.The rich green, red, orange, and purple colors found in fresh vegetables and fruits add a “wow” factor to any dish.
• Using various shaped and different colored plates can make a traditional home-cooked meal feel more gourmet.

2. Try something new.
• Arranging foods into a clever design can help bring a smile to someone’s face.
• Try stacking foods to create an attractive pattern.
• Cut vegetables and fruit into fun shapes using cookie cutters, paring knives, peelers, shredders, and/or scoops.
• Add a different twist to your typical meal. Use a leafy lettuce like Boston or crispy Romaine to make tacos or wraps, instead of the typical tortilla.

3. Adding the finishing touch.
• Lightly sprinkle fresh or dried herbs, spices, cheese, or chopped nuts over your dish or around the rim of the plate as a garnish.
• If your dish has a sauce, serve it in a fancy ramekin or drizzle it over your dish, making an attractive design. Get creative with your food and have fun!

natalie-castro-204x300About Natalie Castro, M.S., R.D., LDN Natalie Castro is the Chief Wellness Dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Florida International University. She completed her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Ms. Castro is certified in adult weight management and works passionately to improve the health of both adults and children. Her clinical experience includes working with patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and critically ill patients in intensive care. In addition, she has conducted research on eating behaviors and pediatric obesity. Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed medical journals.

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