Nutrition Quick Tip: Pretty Up Your Plate

We use our senses to gather essential information about our food. This data helps us decide if we want to take a bite. Food's appearance is one of the initial sensory criteria that comes into play, giving truth to the adage, "We eat with our eyes first." When food looks delicious, it's more appetizing.

Mixed greens tossed with a rainbow of vegetables is generally more appealing than a plate of plain, iceberg lettuce. Chicken coated in herbs and grill marks looks more appetizing than pale, boiled chicken. A glass of lemonade with ice, a lemon slice and a sprig of mint appears more refreshing than a glass of tepid lemonade.

Every time you cook, think of your plate as a blank canvas, and you're the artist. Use these five tips to make your plate prettier.

Add an edible garnish: A sprig of cilantro or a slice of lime on a Thai dish not only adds extra flavor, but also a final touch of color. Additionally, it tells your taste buds what flavors to expect in the dish. Garnish strawberry cupcakes with fresh berries, fried rice with scallions, and chicken piccata with lemon zest and flat-leaf parsley.

Balance shapes and textures: Serve quinoa burgers with a side of carrots cut into long strips instead of rounds. Add cooked peas and raw grape tomatoes to penne pasta. Garnish saut?ed spinach with dried cranberries and toasted pecans.

More Nutrition Quick Tips

Wipe the edges: A drip of gravy on the side of the plate or a splatter of minestrone down the soup bowl is unsightly. After you plate up your food, give your dinnerware a once-over and wipe off any splashes.

Use a white dish: Most chefs agree that meals look best when they're served on white plates. The reason: A simple, white plate doesn't compete with the colors, shapes and textures of the food.

Don't overcrowd the plate: It's a basic design principle visual artists use to create a masterpiece: leave adequate white space around the focal point, which, in this case, is the food. Creating space not only triggers the brain's visual pleasure receptors, but also relaxes the nervous system. Feeling at ease during a meal helps you eat slower, which may help you avoid overconsumption.

What's your nutrition quick tip? Leave it in the comments or email your tip to nutrition editor Nicole Reino.

More: Why You Should Only Eat Until You're 80 Percent Full

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About the Author

Nicole Reino

Nicole Reino is the former nutrition editor for She's a yogi, runner, cook and real-foods enthusiast.
Nicole Reino is the former nutrition editor for She's a yogi, runner, cook and real-foods enthusiast.

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