On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

How to Add Flavor Flair with Food Around the World

Tired of the same ol’ dishes day in and day out? Add flavor flair with these nutritious and delicious international recipes and food ideas!

How to Add Flavor Flair with Food Around the World

Filled with various spices, seasonings, and tastes, there are tremendous benefits of ethnic foods. However, perusing the ever evolving ethnic aisles at the grocery store may seem time consuming while lacking confidence knowing what to buy for international recipes.

Does cooking ethnic dishes seem intimidating or like they will bust your diet? Break the barriers of trying international foods with these healthy recipes from foods around the world.

What Is the Most Popular Food in the World?

Out of all the ethnic cuisines, both familiar and not, which one reigns supreme? According to the Food Network, the most popular food in the world for Americans, and worldwide, is Italian food. That's right, a whopping 88 percent of polled Americans said they liked Italian cuisine!

In a close second, the next most popular cuisine 86 percent of U.S. residents preferred was Mexican cuisine. Chinese (84 percent), Spanish (79 percent), and Japanese (74 percent) cuisines trailed not too far behind.

While these cuisines are the most popular, there are many other international foods that are flavorful and healthy. Consider trying other recipes inspired by Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African or Asian regions of the world.

Food Around the World

Enjoy flavors of international foods without spending a lot of time in the kitchen and purchasing a lot of unfamiliar items from the grocery store. Add some variety into your meal routine with these healthy international recipes and flavors.


Spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, ravioli, and Italian bread... If you read that and thought, "No way that can fit into my diet!" ...Think again. Although pastas often have a bad reputation when it comes to health and weight loss, enjoying an Italian meal does not have to feel like a setback. 

Italian dinners are generally consumed at a leisurely pace, which can help improve digestion. Tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh herbs including oregano, parsley, and basil provide the dish with flavor and nutrients. 

Put a healthy twist on Italian traditional dishes by using whole wheat pasta and a vegan cream sauce like in the whole wheat penne and vegan cashew alfredo sauce. Another fun, healthy Italian twist can be making a cauliflower pizza crust or low carb eggplant pizzas.

Bump up the vegetables in Italian-inspired national dishes with chicken and garden vegetable lasagna. Or, simply saute other favorite veggies and add-in for a nutritional bump.


Like Italian foods, Americans are quite familiar with Mexican food items. Although Mexican foods (generally found at Mexican restaurants) are often filled with fat and sodium, the use of fresh ingredients can create nutritious Mexican meals. 

Add flavor flair by:

• Spicing things up with fresh Mexican flavors of cilantro, chili powder, Mexican oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, anise, and cocoa powder added to meats or sauteed veggies.

• Ditching the fryer and aim for lean beef and chicken, beans, vibrant peppers and onions, and low sodium or homemade salsa. 

• Making a filling, flavorful Mexican dish with quick vegetarian cauliflower tacos, chicken fajitas.

• Serving a version of Mexican beans and rice with a sneaky substitution of traditional white rice. 


Traditional Greek food is highly abundant in nutrients and one of the cuisines that makes up the Mediterranean diet. Greek food is filled with fresh produce, lean meats and fish, beans, and heart-healthy oils. 

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and olive oil provide anti-inflammatory effects that are so prevalent in Greek cuisine. The fiber content from produce and beans along with omega-3's also promotes heart health.

•Enjoy Greek flavors of lemon and garlic paired with beans and olive oil in an easy bean and sun-dried tomato salad.

•Complement grilled vegetable salad and herb beef skewers with a fresh tzatziki sauce and pita bread for a balanced Greek-inspired meal.

Greek stuffed peppers with quinoa, olives, beans and feta also give the taste and health benefits of Greek cuisine.


Japanese foods go beyond a sushi roll found in the already prepared section. Explore some of the ingredients Japanese cuisine has to offer, including soba and udon noodles, seaweed, miso, green tea, edamame, tofu, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms. 

Japanese dishes offer tremendous amounts of protein from lean meats, fish or plant-based, soybean products combined with a wide variety of vegetables. Put all the Japanese flavors and ingredients together with sesame soba noodles with edamame.


Japanese and Chinese cuisines are comparable with similar uses of soy sauce, rice, and proteins. However, each deserves recognition due to their delicious dishes! 

Chinese cuisine focuses less on deep-frying and more on pan-frying like fried rice. Another simple dish includes beef and broccoli stir-fry, in which tender strips of seasoned beef and steamed broccoli florets coated in a flavorful stir fry sauce.

Both dishes include a mix of veggies, rice, and lean protein with little attention to knife cuts. This varies from Japanese cuisine, as knife skills shine in the delicacy of sushi prep.


Curries and other Indian foods are not only filled with bold flavors, but numerous health benefits. Turmeric, a main ingredient in curry, has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce infection and inflammation. 

When choosing curries, try to stray away from curries prepared with heavy cream and butter. Choose lentils, leafy greens, and lean meats over deep-fried chicken dishes. The flavor of Indian curry (and health benefits) can also be translated to roasted vegetables with chickpeas for a healthy, flavorful dish made in the oven. 

Another healthy and surprisingly easy Indian dish is chana masala which is a flavorful dish made from chickpeas, spices and vegetables in a tomato sauce. Add chicken to bump up protein content for chicken tikka masala that can still be made in 30 minutes.


Shimmy away from fried rangoons, spring and vegetable rolls, and breaded chicken and shrimp and embrace the rich flavors of Thai soups and rice dishes.

The spicy foods of Thai culture are extremely helpful to health and rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may combat chronic disease. Common Thai spices and herbs include garlic, ginger, dried chilies, cumin, holy basil, and green peppercorns.

Thai recipes may seem intimidating to make, but the following Thai-based recipes offer an easy, healthy and delicious approach:

Thai green curry
Thai red curry with chicken
Seasonal vegetables with Thai orange sesame sauce
Authentic chicken pad Thai
Thai green papaya salad

In Summary of Healthy International Foods

Adding flavor flair to foods from around the world can be possible while still doing the following:

• Eating healthy, balanced, nutrient-dense meals

• Not spending a long time in the kitchen 

• Making meals using basic kitchen staples with maybe a few easy to find extras from ethnic aisles at the grocery stores 

Healthy international foods can be found in truly any cuisine - and especially the most popular cuisines including Italian, Mexican, and Japanese! Consider trying other healthy recipes inspired by Greek, Thai, or Indian flavors as well.

Experimenting with and trying new international food recipes will not only add a change in flavors but also the health benefits these global cuisines have to offer.