Photo courtesy Olivier Berté

Photo courtesy Olivier Berté

Foods low in sodium, added sugars and saturated fat have often been labelled as bland, but that stereotypical judgment is baseless.

It’s all in how the food is prepared.

Olivier Berté, a chef who owns Les Coulisses du Chef – a cooking school in Paris, said the key to cooking delicious, healthy food without added salt, sugars or saturated fats is through fresh, tasty ingredients.

He said that to create a healthy, tasty French dish, three categories need to be fulfilled: color, texture and flavor.

“One must choose products at the very beginning with a lot of color,” he said, adding that those choices will be tasted later on.

Flavor also can be added through healthy ingredients, such as herbs. For example, oregano can add additional taste when decreasing salt in a savory dish.

Adding herbs is a particularly French way to cook. Chives, thyme, rosemary and basil are popular herbs used in the cuisine, Berté said. They also happen to be commonly used in the famed “herbes de Provence” seasoning.

Paired with garlic, another seasoning Berté recommends, any healthy dish can adopt a French flare – all while avoiding the stereotypical croissants, baguettes and copious amounts of butter used in northern France.

Toying with technique can help make most dishes lighter and less caloric.

For example, dabbing tiny amounts of healthy fat to create crispness when cooking in the oven can replicate a deep fried texture, Berté said.

But at the end of the day, for truly delicious food, ingredients are what will matter most.

“The best quality of product is necessary for the ability to decrease salt, grease and sugar,” he said.

Berté suggested a handful of traditional French dishes that are not only healthy, but easy to make at home.

He recommends people consider such items as: tian, a roasted vegetable casserole; légumes grillées à la provençales, grilled vegetables with olive oil and garlic; bouillabaisse, a French seafood stew; poulet rôti au romarin, rosemary roasted chicken; pot au feu, a light, usually clear broth beef stew; and moule Marinière, steamed mussels.

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