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How to Add Zest to Your Food

Fresh vegetables can add zest to your food and liven up your spirits. See more pictures of vegetables.

Q. How can I make my day-to-day meals a little more interesting? I'm getting tired of the same old foods.

A. It's easy to fall into a monotonous meal routine, but it's just as easy to change it up a bit, too. The next time you're at the market, try to pick up some items that will give "pop" to a dish, like a jolt from jalapeƱo, a zing from lemon rind, a punch from fresh or dried herbs, or simply brilliant color from a fruit or vegetable.

You can buy fresh produce in and out of season, but to take freshness to a higher level, add small amounts of highly intensified ingredients. For peak flavors, be sure to use the really fresh ingredients, not the fresh-in-the-jar varieties.

With fresh foods comes refreshment that excites your palate and brings your taste buds out of hibernation. Your senses are refreshed, as well -- not just your sense of taste, but also your sense of sight and your sense of smell. And because it's so easy, your stress level gets a break, too.

For some great ideas on livening up your cooking, see: