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Welcome the New Year with Healthy and Flavorful Savory Recipes

By December 31, 2023January 2nd, 2024Featured, Savory Recipes
savory recipes

Did your recent holiday season involve indulging in an abundance of candy canes, butter cookies, and perhaps even…fruitcake?

For too many of us, these festive treats tend to loiter around our waistlines, taking up too much space in our clothes, and leave us with lingering regrets and food guilt.

As we move into 2024, it’s an opportune moment to plan a return to a more regular schedule, including adopting a mindful and healthier eating routine. And skip the food guilt. Rather than concentrating on weight and calories, focus instead on a food plan that contributes to balance and overall well-being in your dietary choices.

Robust Flavors of Savory Recipes

savory recipeOne effective strategy is to shift away from the sweet indulgences of the holiday past, and to fill your plate with the robust flavors and depth of savory dishes. Savory foods, characterized by flavors achieved through the use of umami-rich ingredients, have tastes that are deeply satisfying, nourishing and lend a sense of comfort to those who eat them.

Umami stands as one of the fundamental five tastes, along sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Linked to glutamate, an amino acid present in various foods, umami imparts a savory essence. Meats like beef, pork, and chicken are known for their rich flavors due to their content of glutamate. Other sources abundant in glutamate include cured meats, aged cheeses, and mushrooms. The umami taste sensation offers well-rounded flavor, along with its well-known savory notes.

Recognized as the fifth taste, umami has the ability to intensify the flavors of savory foods, and elevating the pleasure of eating. Remarkably, it not only enhances appetite, encouraging a desire to eat, but research indicates that umami can also heighten satiety—the sense of feeling full and satisfied.1

As an additional health benefit, foods rich in umami can offset saltiness, allowing for a potential 40% reduction in salt without compromising flavor.2

Here’s another simple way to help restore balance to your intake. Stay hydrated: Make it a habit to drink more liquids, especially water. Fill a reusable water bottle, and keep it nearby as a visual reminder to sip regularly throughout the day. Additionally, include more liquid-based foods, such as soup, in your diet. This not only helps prevent dehydration, which can cause fatigue, but it also promotes healthier eating. It’s worth noting that our brains can sometimes confuse hunger and thirst signals, so staying well-hydrated can prevent overeating, when what we really need is hydration.3

stew recipeSavory Umami Recipes

Try these two umami-rich soup recipes, both easy to make. The first is an arugula pesto that can be swirled into a bowl of homemade or canned tomato soup. The beef stew recipe can be quickly prepared and left to simmer throughout the day in a slow cooker. Lastly, explore this vegetable-forward broccoli and walnut stir-fry to kickstart your 2024 journey into creating healthy dishes from savory recipes.

Arugula Pesto

This twist on classic pesto can make a wonderful addition to tomato soup, pasta sauce, or topped on chicken or steak. Or try it along with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella for a pesto pizza, flatbread, or salad.

Course Seasoning
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1.5 cups


  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1/2 medium lemon
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon MSG
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated


  1. Toast the pine nuts, stirring occasionally, in a skillet set on medium heat until they turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Combine the arugula, pine nuts, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon juice and MSG in the jar of a blender or the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, and then slowly add in the olive oil through the feed tube and process.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan.
  4. Ladle homemade or canned tomato soup into bowls. Swirl 1-2 tablespoons of pesto into each bowl. (Or try this recipe on a variety of other dishes, along with tomatoes and mozzarella.)

  5. Store any leftover arugula pesto in a jar or sealable container. Tightly seal and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2–3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Epicurious
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Brittany

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This easy and delicious beef stew recipe can be quickly prepared and left to simmer throughout the day in a slow cooker.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 4 medium carrots sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes diced
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon MSG


  1. Place meat in slow cooker. Mix flour, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour over meat, and stir until meat is coated.
  2. Add beef broth, carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic, bay leave and MSG; stir to combine.
  3. Cover, and cook until beef is tender enough to cut with a spoon, on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Shana McDanold

Walnut Broccoli Stir-Fry

This vegetable-forward broccoli and walnut stir-fry will kickstart your 2024 journey into creating healthy and savory dishes.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings 4


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions cut into 8 wedges, and separated
  • 2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 head broccoli florets separated
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp MSG
  • 1 cup mushrooms such as fresh shitake sliced
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: Sprinkle of sesame seeds and/or chopped green onions


  1. In a wok, heat up the oil and sauté the onions for one minute.
  2. Add carrots and broccoli and stir-fry 3 minutes until tender.
  3. Add mushrooms. Stir fry one minute.
  4. Mix together dissolved cornstarch, soy sauce and MSG.
  5. Add the broth and cornstarch mixture. Heat until just thickened.
  6. Mix in walnuts.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with noodles or rice.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Budget Diet
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael Zole

Additional delicious savory recipes can be found here and here.

Wishing all of our MSGdish readers a very healthy and happy new year!

Article References:

  1. Masic, U and Yeomans, M. Umami flavor enhances appetite but also increases satiety. AJCN. 2014. 100 (2): 532-538.
  2. MSG Facts. MSG can help reduce sodium intake.,less%20sodium%20than%20table%20salt.
  3. McKiernan F, Houchins JA, Mattes RD. Relationships between human thirst, hunger, drinking, and feeding. Physiol Behav. 2008 Aug 6;94(5):700-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.04.007. Epub 2008 Apr 13. PMID: 18499200; PMCID: PMC2467458.

Mary Lee Chin is a registered dietitian specializing in health communications. Committed to providing the public with sound nutrition information, she is regularly consulted by local and national media on nutrition trends and significant health and food issues. Her company, Nutrition Edge Communications, specializes in translating peer-reviewed research into realistic and practical recommendations, and countering myths and misinformation. Mary Lee was recently awarded Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the Colorado Dietetic Association. Read more about her background on the About page. Note: MSGdish bloggers are compensated for their time in writing for MSGdish, but their statements and opinions are their own. They have pledged to blog with integrity, asserting that the trust of their readers and their peers is vitally important to them.

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