How Can You Make A Bland Diet Appealing?

How can you make a bland diet appealing? Our forum members once again do not let us down. They have listed a variety of ideas to improve upon a boring diet. Also included are many recipes to use as a part of your daily meal plan. Check it out!

TOPIC: How Can You Make A Bland Diet Appealing?

The Question:

Bodybuilders go through the pain of shoving down foods which they don't enjoy. Foods that are bland with no flavor, such as chicken, tuna, brown rice, etc are all apart of a bodybuilder's diet.

How can you make a bland diet appealing?

What types of additions or spices can be used?

What are some recipes for a great tasting and nutritional meal?

Bonus Question: What can you do to get your protein shake to taste great?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

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When most people hear "diet" they think of a selection of foods geared toward weight loss. However, diet is actually a much broader term describing a selection of foods to control body weight in any way. This could mean people are on diets for weight loss, gain, or just maintenance.

In any case, dieters often find themselves consuming foods they do not particular enjoy, meal after meal, for an extended period of time. Many, including the dieter, might consider such a routine diet to be bland. The justification for this blandness sometimes lies in the convenience and simplicity of certain foods. However, it is my guess that most fallaciously appeal to the common practice of eating bland foods while dieting.

Remember, just because most people do something a certain way, does not make that way justified, correct, or even reasonable. Blandness is not a requirement of any diet, and as such, we are going to look at some tips and tricks for making any diet more appealing, regardless of the diet's goal.

Bland Diet:
How can you make a bland diet appealing?

The enjoyment of eating food is related to that food's flavor, temperature, aroma, texture, and presentation. Making modifications to any of these attributes may often make a food more suitable to an individual's appetite. While the next section will go over some of the changes that can be made to the actual food itself, this section contains advice regarding the presentation of the food.

Spice Up A Bland Diet
Date: 7/19/05

This week on The Fit Show: You have questions and we have answers. On this show we answer the question on how to spice up a bland diet with low sugar items, on a special Q&A segment of The Fit Show.
Video Show 6

The Sensory Aspects Of Appetite:

The smell of food plays an important role in stimulating appetite. The nerve receptors in the nose send signals to the brain, which then sends signals to other glands which release appetite related hormones. In the end, people feel more hungry after smelling the aroma of food. Basically, try to make sure foods have a pleasant smell before eaten. Some herbs and spices, which we will see in the next section, can help improve the smell of foods.

Food temperature can also influence its desirability. Typically, foods that aid us in maintaining a pleasant body temperature are appealing. For example, warm soup in the cold winter, and cold drinks in the summer or after exercise are common.

General temperature preferences differ from person to person, but everyone should make sure to eat food at the temperature they are most familiar and comfortable with in order to increase the appeal of it.

Appetite is also affected by colors. The most accepted colors for edible food are brown, red, and green. Blue has been found to be an appetite suppressant, possibly because our nature tells us to avoid darker colors due to a greater potential to be poisonous.

Serving the food on a light-colored plate may make the meal appear to be more fresh and thus more appealing. As we know, many of us tend to "eat with our eyes," so incorporating a good variety of colors in a bland dish may be enough to trick us into enjoying the meal more.

There are also social aspects of eating. Many find their dining experiences more enjoyable when they share it with other people, allowing for interesting conversations, jokes, and stories. Eating with others may help with taking the mind off of food that is not particularly appealing. Just make sure not to allow others to compromise a diet.

Some degree of enjoyment can also be attributed to how the food feels, its texture. Obviously, not many would prefer to eat something that would feel like sand. The dryness of a food is something that can be directly changed to meet one's preferences.

The way in which foods are eaten also fall into the sense of touch category. Preparing food meant to be eaten with the hands instead of utensils might be a fun change for some.

Lastly, eating simple and plain foods in a dull place obviously does not help it to be any less bland. Try eating in a different environment for a change. Have a picnic outdoors, or go to a nice restaurant if nutritional information is readily available.

Varietal Tips:

Many of the foods that plague the bland diet often come in different varieties and flavors. Maintaining a good selection to choose from often helps alleviate some of the tedium and boredom associated with bland diets. The following are some examples of common foods that have much room for variation.

    • Oatmeal: comes in different varieties-instant, old fashioned, and steel cut oats all offer different texture experiences. The instant oatmeal is also available in many different flavors, allowing the dieter a greater degree of convenience. Note that the flavored oatmeal comes at the price of containing some sugar, but it's usually not enough to worry over.

    • Protein Powders: many people, bodybuilders in particular, choose to supplement with protein. They often come in many flavors to accommodate differing tastes.

    • Rice: there are different varieties of rice-brown rice, white rice, wild rice, as well as short, medium, and long grains, giving different textures and tastes.

    • Potatoes: Russet Burbank, Yellow Finn, and Red Gold potatoes are different types. The good thing about potatoes is that they can be prepared in many different ways. They can be served baked, boiled, and mashed among other possibilities in order to make them more appealing to the diner.

    • Water: there are many flavored waters available that are still calories free.

    • Tuna: there is a variety of different species. It can be purchased in "solid" or "chunk" forms and packed in either water or oil to suit personal texture and consistency preferences.

    • Yogurt: is often made in many different flavors and consistencies, some even with real fruits.

Eating Alternately:

Another strategy is to prepare meals that consist of a combination of differing foods eaten separately, but alternately. Many "bland" dieters may eat foods separately, but not alternately. As an example, the following bland meal of plain lettuce, plain chicken breast, and plain baked potato, may be eaten systematically, one by one, since the diner knows each one is not very appealing by itself anyway.

However, the body can be tricked into finding the foods more appealing if the foods are eaten in an alternating fashion, eating some from each food a little at a time. Using this eating method keeps the taste buds guessing and may make the meal more enjoyable.

What types of additions or spices can be used?

It turns out that variety is not only the figurative spice of life, but also food, as we saw. However, there are also real spices, herbs, and other additions that can be used to make food more appealing. These additions can work to enhance flavor, aroma, texture, and color of food.

The following additives work to improve some of these aspects which we now know are essential for the enjoyment of food.

  • MSG (monosodium glutamate): a flavor enhancing substance that can be added before or during cooking to improve the savory taste of foods. The benefits of this additive are that it does not affect metabolism and that it can reduce the amount of regular salt used while still improving taste.

    In general, the FDA ruled that it is safe for consumption and had no relation to long-term adverse affects. However, just so you are aware, there are some cases of unpleasant, short-term side effects in some individuals.

  • Bouillon Cubes: these come in a wide array of flavors and enhance both the flavor and aroma of a food.

  • Tabasco/Hot Sauces: for those that like hot and spicy dishes, this is the perfect ingredient.

  • Ketchup: a popular condiment to improve flavor and gives the food more color. It is mainly made of tomatoes, but there are other ingredients as well--watch out for excessive salt and sugar content. In general, though, ketchup is a good low-calorie addition.

  • Mustard: another common condiment that tends to have a sharp flavor while enhancing the color of a dish. It is prepared from mustard seeds and other ingredients, so be sure to check out the salt and sugar content again, but in most cases mustard tends to be a low-calorie choice.

  • Pickles/Relish: this is a good pick for adding a more sweet or salty taste, while possibly adding some crunchiness to a food. There are many varieties available, but the main things to look for are the salt and sugar content, which may not be desirable for some.

  • Soy Sauce: adds a salty, slightly sweet flavor. It can be used as a dipping sauce or added directly to food to add its color and flavor improvements. The downside to soy sauce is that even the light versions contain a good deal of sodium.

  • Lettuce: a flexible vegetable that can be easily added to many dishes or on sandwiches to give it a more fresh feel and crunchy texture. There is really no downside to lettuce since it is basically a calorie-less fiber, which will only aid the body's digestive system.

  • Horseradish/Wasabi: adds a strong flavor that can also produce a slight burning sensation in the sinus cavity instead of on the tongue itself. These are generally low in calories and added in small amounts. My recommendation is to use some on sandwiches.

  • Sauerkraut: made by fermenting cabbage. It is distinguished by its sour and salty flavor. It's commonly added to meat dishes, but I also like it on sandwiches and with potatoes. The only thing to worry about with sauerkraut is that it does contain a moderate amount of salt.

  • Steak Sauces: has a peppery taste that can be sweet or tart. Can be put over meat to enhance taste at the cost of adding some salt. Some sauces may also have moderate sugar content, so be sure to check if necessary.

  • Barbecue Sauces: are marked by their combination of sour, sweet, and spicy tastes. They are really good to use over meats during or after cooking, or as a dipping sauce. The main drawback of this condiment is that they typically contain a moderate amount of sugar.

  • Mayonnaise: an emulsion and popular sandwich spread which may improve taste and give a more oily and moist texture. The problem that most people have with mayonnaise is that it also adds many fat calories, and should be used sparingly, if at all, when this is a concern.

  • Salsa: these are usually based on tomatoes and other vegetables. They help make food look brighter in color and spicier in flavor. They do contain some sodium to be aware of, but are good to use in dishes that involve tortilla wraps.

  • Salad Dressings: eating vegetables and salads plain is probably the ultimate bland food. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-calorie and low-sodium dressing available for all the non-masochists out there.

  • Salt: pure salt can be used as a seasoning for just about everything. It generally makes bland foods more palatable. Salt is also an additive in bread dough as an aid to making sure the texture and consistency turns out correctly after baking. Humans have been shown to be able to tolerate a wide range of sodium intake, but it is also shown that average blood pressure levels also tend to rise with increased intake.

    For those with high blood pressure, using salt as an additive may present an issue, but for others the main drawback is that it may promote some undesired water retention.

  • Pepper: often found sitting right beside the salt and adds a spicy heat. Black pepper, especially, is actually very healthy. It not only adds flavor, but also helps the body absorb the nutrients in the food we eat.

  • Garnishes: lemon wedges, parsley, orange slices, and chives among other fruits/vegetables can be placed on or alongside the food to add color and attractiveness.

  • Cinnamon: a common spice with a pleasant aroma and flavor. It's a perfect addition to a bowl of oatmeal.

  • Ginger, onion powder, garlic, chili powder, curry powder are all other good seasonings to add while cooking food to improve flavor as well as scent.

  • Thyme, oregano, paprika, nutmeg, mint, basil, and marjoram are all common herbs used in cooking to enhance flavor.

  • The following herbs, which tend to be more bitter, have been shown to have a relation with increasing a person's appetite: gentian, bitter orange, cinnamon, coriander, dandelion, hops, horehound, rosemary, wormwood, and yarrow.

  • Artificial Sweeteners: these are non-carbohydrate substances that taste sweet. While they do not add calories, the body may react to them in ways similar to sugar since the body perceives it as sweet. The result may be increased saliva and insulin output.

Sugar Substitutes - A Review! Sugar Substitutes - A Review!
In this article I will review the research on the new and old artificial sweeteners. As well I will look at who should avoid certain sweeteners and how we can all benefit by using sweeteners in everyday life. Learn more...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

We know insulin is an appetite-stimulating hormone, so using these artificial sweeteners may actually make one more hungry in the long run. Splenda, aspartame, and saccharin are examples of such sweeteners. While they may make bland food more appealing, there is also ongoing controversy about these substances and their role in certain health issues, so it may be best to use these sparingly and at your own risk.

Often the best way to find out which additives suit individual preferences is just to experiment. Feel free to try various combinations of the seasonings and condiments as well. There's bound to be a way to make any bland food more appetizing.

What Is Your Favorite Seasoning For A Bland Meal?

Balsamic Vinegar.
Artificial Sweeteners.

What are some recipes for a great tasting and nutritional meal?

It is important to remember that in the most general regard to weight control, it is much more difficult to label specific foods as "bad," while much easier to spot a terrible diet. Keeping this in mind, here are some sample recipes for meals that are not only nutritious, but are also very flavorful.

The selected recipes were all chosen for their staple ingredients, which are often found in bland bodybuilding diets.

Cinco De Mango Chicken Quesadillas:
A fresh, fruity, and colorful way to eat your chicken.

(Recipe developed by the National Mango Board and obtained from

Chicken Quesadillas
(25 minute prep time, 35 minute cook time)

      • 2 small boneles, skinless chiken breasts
      • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
      • 1 dried ancho or pasilla chili pepper, stemmed/seeded
      • Salt to taste
      • 4 burrito-size flour tortillas (10-inc)
      • 6 ounces thinly sliced Jack cheese
      • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and thinly slices
      • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
      • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
      • Mango Salsa (recipe follows)

Mango Salsa

      • 1 large peeled, pitted and chopped mango
      • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
      • 1/4 cup minced red onion
      • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
      • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients for mango salsa.

Cook chicken on a lightly oiled grill over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and cooked through. Let cool slightly and cut into bite-size strips. (You may substitute leftover grilled chicken.)

Puree the tomato sauce and dried pepper in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add grilled chicken to pan and toss well to coat; season to taste with salt. Place flour tortillas on a flat surface.

Top half of each tortilla with equal amounts of cheese, mango, bell pepper, green onion and chicken; fold over tortilla. Cook in a large skillet on both sides until cheese is melted and tortilla is crisp, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve with mango salsa.

Makes 4 entree servings, or 8 appetizer servings.

Nutrition Information Per Entree Serving:

      • 560 calories
      • 30 g. protein
      • 64 g. carbohydrates
      • 19 g. total fat (10 g. saturated)
      • 78 mg. cholesterol
      • 1,380 mg. sodium
      • 6 g. fiber

Click Here For A Printable Version Of This Page.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal:
A nuttier and creamier oatmeal that is easy to prepare.

Prepare 1/2 cup of instant or old-fashioned oatmeal according to directions using 1/2 cup of lowfat or skim milk. Add a tablespoon of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy style depending on preference. After mixing, An additional scoop of protein powder of any flavor can also be added. Pour in additional milk or water to obtain the desired consistency and temperature. Stir well and enjoy.

1 serving

      • 350 calories
      • 10g fat
      • ~24g protein
      • 30g carbohydrates

Click Here For A Printable Version Of This Page.

Washington State Mashed Potatoes With Roasted Garlic:
A flavorful and simple way to serve potatoes.

(Recipe received from

      • 2 lbs Washington russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
      • 1/4 cup milk
      • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
      • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/4 tsp white pepper
      • 1 whole medium head garlic

Makes 6 servings

Bake garlic at 375 °F 45 minutes. Cut top 1/2 inch off head, squeeze to remove pulp and mash. Boil potatoes about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well. In a mixing bowl, combine hot potatoes, milk, mayonnaise, butter, salt and pepper. Whip at low speed only until smooth. Add garlic and mix well.

      • Calories 171
      • Protein 4.4 g
      • Carbohydrates 28.9 g
      • Fat 6 g
      • Cholesterol 9 mg
      • Dietary fiber 3.5 g
      • Sodium 248 mg

Click Here For A Printable Version Of This Page.

Crunchy Tuna Rice Salad:
Finally, we can stop eating the tuna straight from
the can and use up that leftover rice at the same time.

(Recipe received from

      • 3 cups cooked rice, cooled
      • 1 12-ounce can water packed tuna, drained and flaked
      • 2 medium carrots, shredded
      • 1 medium-size green or red bell pepper, chopped
      • 1 cup chopped jicama*
      • 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
      • 1-1/2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
      • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
      • 3 whole pita bread rounds, halved
      • Shredded lettuce

Combine rice, tuna, carrots, bell pepper, jicama and onion in large bowl. Add yogurt, lemon pepper, salt and pepper. Toss to combine ingredients. Chill at least 1 hour. Serve in pita bread with lettuce.

Makes 6 servings.

*Substitute 1 (6-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped, for the jicama if desired.

Each Serving Provides:

      • 288 calories
      • 20 g. protein
      • 1 g. fat
      • 47 g. carbohydrate
      • 4 g. dietary fiber
      • 15 mg. cholesterol
      • 508 mg. sodium

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I hope these recipes are useful, or at least give some ideas of how to improve bland foods.

Bonus Question:
What can you do to get your protein shake to taste great?

The post-workout recovery shake is well known among anyone looking to build muscle size or strength. The ideal shake would include a substantial amount of quick absorbing carbohydrates and protein.

The intake of such a shake is essential in giving muscles the tools they need to start recovering and growing back stronger and bigger from an intense workout. Because they play such an important role and are consumed often, we would definitely welcome any advice in getting our protein shakes to taste better.

Protein Shake Recipes. Protein Shake Recipes.
Are you tired of drinking the same boring, bland tasting proteins shakes? Try these superb shakes and mix things up!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Many people, myself among them, are not partial to the taste of some whey powders when taken alone, so we build up shakes that including many other ingredients. I like to start off with putting any powders in a glass. This usually includes one flavored meal replacement powder containing some protein, sugars, and other nutrients, then one scoop of hemp protein for fiber, quality protein, and a fresh taste, and finally one scoop of flavored whey protein powder.

I then add the liquids, using 1% milk for enhancing the taste with some fat, and also egg whites for a highly bio-available protein. After mixing, the yogurt is added to give the shake a thicker and more enjoyable consistency.