TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Delicious Make-Ahead Breakfasts to Make Your Morning Easier

From pudding to burritos

Make-ahead breakfast ideas: need I say more?

With a little advance prep, you can take one big thing off your a.m. to-do listand still eat a satisfying, wholesome, and delicious meal. Check out 5 of my favorites, below.

  • Overnight Tropical Buckwheat Pudding

    buckwheat-pudding
    Beth Lipton

    Never tried buckwheat? You can pick up this protein- and fiber-rich, and gluten-free seed (yep, like quinoa it’s actually a seed) in the bulk section of the supermarket. (I recommend buying extra; buckwheat groats make a fantastic swap for rice as a side dish.)

    Serves: 4-6

    1 cup buckwheat groats ($19 for a 4-pack, amazon.com)
    1 cup milk (dairy, nut or soy) or a milk-yogurt combination
    ¼ cup chia seeds
    2 ripe bananas, sliced
    2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
    Pinch of kosher salt
    1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
    Raw honey or maple syrup to taste, optional
    “Chopped mango or pineapple (or a combination)
    Hemp seeds and/or unsweetened coconut flakes, optional

    Make it: In a bowl, cover the buckwheat groats with cold water. Stir, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Drain buckwheat (it’s a little slimy, don’t worry about that) in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse gently. Drain again. Place buckwheat in a blender with milk, chia seeds, bananas, and salt. Add vanilla, if desired. Blend, then taste and sweeten with honey or maple syrup, if desired. Portion into 4 to 6 bowls or jars (or save the rest). Just before eating, top with fruit and/or hemp or coconut.

  • Baked Oatmeal

    baked-oatmeal
    Beth Lipton

    Somewhere between a muffin and bread pudding (without the bread), a slice of this feels like a treat but is loaded with nutrients. Make it your own: Change up the nuts, add raisins or blueberries, or use different spices. It’s delicious cold out of the fridge, but you can also pop it in the microwave for a few seconds before you hit the road.

    Serves: 8

    2 ½ cups uncooked rolled oats (not instant)
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    ¼ cup chopped walnuts
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    ¼ tsp. salt
    1 cup milk (dairy or nut)
    1/2 cup plain yogurt
    1 ripe banana, cut into pieces
    4 pitted dates, chopped
    2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    1 large egg, beaten

    Make it: Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan. In a medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a blender, combine milk, yogurt, banana, dates, butter, and egg; blend until smooth.Pour into bowl with oat mixture and stir until well mixed. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until firm. Serve warm, or let it cool. Then cut it into pieces, wrap each individually, and refrigerate or freeze.

  • Chia-Berry-Yogurt Parfait

    yogurt-parfait
    Beth Lipton

    Combine those frozen berries you always have on hand with chia seeds and you get a jammy mixture that’s like a less sugary version of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. This is a fantastic alternative if you want to incorporate chia in your diet but don’t care for the gelatinous texture of chia puddings.

    Serves: 1 (can be multiplied)

    ½ cup frozen mixed berries
    2 Tbsp. chia seeds
    1 Tbsp. raw honey
    Small pinch of salt
    ½ cup plain yogurt
    ½ tsp. vanilla extract
    Unsweetened coconut flakes and/or hemp seeds, optional

    Make it: In a jar, stir together berries, chia seeds, honey, and salt. Whisk yogurt and vanilla together and pour over berry mixture in jar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, top with coconut and/or hemp seeds, re-cover and go.

  • Breakfast Burritos

    breakfast-burrito
    Beth Lipton

    Customize these simple burritos however you like. Use pepper jack cheese, swap refried black beans for the chorizo, or try a corn salsa. Kids love them, too.

    Yield: 4 burritos

    4 oz. nitrate-free chorizo, casings removed
    1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    4 large eggs, beaten
    1/2 cup salsa, drained
    ½ cup cheddar or jack, shredded
    4 taco-sized (8-inch) whole-grain tortillas

    Make it: Warm a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook, breaking up with a spoon and stirring, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a one side of a large plate with a slotted spoon. Wipe out skillet.

    Place skillet back over medium-low heat and warm oil. Add eggs and cook, stirring often, until cooked through to desired doneness. Transfer to other side of plate with chorizo. Let cool.

    Lay a tortilla out on a work surface (warm it briefly in the microwave to make it pliable, if necessary). Spoon one-fourth of chorizo, eggs, salsa and cheese down the middle. Roll up, folding in sides as you go. Repeat with remaining tortillas and fillings. Tightly wrap individually in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag, press out excess air, seal and freeze.

    To serve: Place a burrito in the microwave and cook until warmed through, 30 to 60 seconds.

  • Individual Vegetable Frittatas

    vegetable-frittattas
    Beth Lipton

    Change up the vegetables to suit your taste (and what you have in the fridge). Try chopped kale or spinach, zucchini or yellow squash, broccoli or cauliflower. Leftover cooked vegetables work great, no need to re-cook them.

    Yield: 8 frittatas

    1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    ½ onion, finely chopped
    3/4 cup finely chopped seeded bell pepper (any color)
    Salt and pepper
    1 cup cremini or white mushrooms, chopped
    ½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil, parsley or mint (or a combination), optional
    6 large eggs
    2 Tbsp. whole milk

    Make it: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 8 cups of a standard muffin tin. Warm oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their liquid, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes longer. Divide vegetable mixture among greased muffin cups. Top with fresh herbs, if desired.

    In a bowl, whisk eggs and milk until well combined. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture among muffin cups, covering vegetable mixture.

    Bake until frittatas are just set and slightly puffed, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around edge of each frittata to loosen, then transfer frittatas from pan to rack.

    Serve warm, or let cool completely, wrap individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate, or place in a freezer bag and freeze. (Take one or two out of the freezer the night before you’re going to eat them; let thaw in the fridge overnight.)

    This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME public health

The Best Way to Treat Food Poisoning

stomach-pain
Getty Images

Don't rush to take over-the-counter drugs

You had an undercooked burger, ate some deviled eggs that were sitting out on the picnic table a bit too long, or sampled something from a dodgy food truck…and now you’re paying the price. Here’s how to spot the signs and symptoms of food poisoning—and how to treat it.

What causes food poisoning

In the majority of food poisoning cases, the technical term for your misery is gastroenteritis—an irritation of the stomach and intestines. It’s typically caused by bacteria (such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Campylobacter) or a virus (like norovirus).

In the case of food poisoning, you likely picked up bacteria in something you ate, but you can also get gastroenteritis from coming in contact with someone who’s infected, or not washing your hands after going to the bathroom. (You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as “stomach flu,” but it has nothing to do with the influenza virus.)

Food poisoning symptoms

The signs of food poisoning can range from very mild (a passing stomachache) to severe (fever and nonstop diarrhea). Depending on which bug you’ve picked up, symptoms start in as little as 8 hours, but you may not start feeling sick for up to 2 weeks. You might have:

How to treat food poisoning

DON’T take an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea drug without a doctor’s OK. Your body is trying to expel the bugs that are making you sick, and you don’t want to interfere with the natural healing process.

DO stay hydrated. You’ll need to replenish all the fluids you’re losing, to avoid serious dehydration. Sip electrolyte-rich liquids, like Gatorade, broth, or coconut water. If you’re keeping down fluids, slowly introduce easy-to-digest foods, like the classic BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

If you’re a healthy adult with a solid immune system, most bouts of food poisoning will pass on their own after a couple of, ahem, crappy days. In general, there’s nothing you can really do to speed the healing. The best thing you can do is rehydrate, rest, and try not to dwell on the meal that did this to you.

When to get help

See a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
1. You have diarrhea along with a fever higher than 101°.
2. You’re dizzy, light-headed, or intensely thirsty.
3. You haven’t kept anything down for 24 hours.
4. You’ve had diarrhea for five days or more.

Go straight to the ER if you have any of these symptoms, which may point to a life-threatening case:
1. Your stool has a lot of blood in it (i.e., it’s maroon or black).
2. You have a pounding, racing, or skipping heartbeat.
3. You’re sick from shellfish, mushrooms, or a canned item—toxins from these foods can have especially serious consequences.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Fast Food

The Surprising Reason Wendy’s Is Making a Beefless Burger

Workers In Fast Food Industry Begin Efforts To Unionize Jobs
Spencer Platt—Getty Images A Wendy's sign hangs as protesters, many of them employees at Wendy's fast-food restaurant, demonstrate outside of one of the restaurants to demand higher pay and the right to form a union on November 29, 2012 in New York City.

The beef is definitely not here

A burger without beef? The thought is surely sacrilegious to most Americans.

But Wendy’s is no longer catering to just its home country. With the opening of its first store in Gurgaon, India earlier this month, the company has had to rethink its attachment to the meat that made it famous.

According to a report in Ad Age, Wendy’s is rolling out a menu featuring “spicy aloo crunch burgers and buns sprinkled with chili, turmeric and coriander,” but no beef. That’s because in India, where Hindu is the majority religion, the cow is considered sacred.

Other fast food chains, like McDonald’s, also offer beefless menus, but Wendy’s is differentiating itself in other ways.

According to Ad Age:

Wendy’s debut outpost in Gurgaon, just southwest of New Delhi, has less of a fast food feel and more of a casual dining atmosphere, though prices remain low . . . Meals are served at the table, on proper china plates.

 

 

TIME Diet/Nutrition

9 Ways to Quit Sugar for Good

refined-white-sugar
Getty Images

Sugar out of sight is also out of mind

Here’s a shocker: the average person takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar daily—more than three times the amount suggested by the American Heart Association. And although it has never been considered a health food, new evidence shows sugar can do even more damage than previously thought, setting you up for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But weaning yourself off sugar can be daunting. It’s tough to dodge because it hides in so many foods, and it provides an almost addictive buzz, thanks to a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine after it enters the body, says research neuroscientist Nicole Avena, PhD, author of Why Diets Fail (Because You’re Addicted to Sugar) ($19; amazon.com). Still, slashing sugar is one food trend worth trying. Find out all about sugar rehab, plus tactics to make your commitment stick.

The dangers of sweet stuff

Sugar has 16 calories per teaspoon. That doesn’t seem like much, but it can pack on hundreds of calories without offering any nutritional value, says Avena. Extra calories raise your risk of obesity, which in turn sets you up for diabetes.

A 2013 study found that for every 150 calories of added sugar consumed in a population—the equivalent of one can of soda—diabetes prevalence in the population went up 1.1%. Then there’s the research tying sugar to heart disease. A 2014 study from JAMA: Internal Medicine found that the more added sugar a person took in, the higher their odds of dying of heart disease.

Don’t forget about the way sugar plays with blood glucose levels, sending them surging, then crashing—leaving you fatigued, brain fogged, and irritable, says Brittany Kohn, RD, a New York City nutritionist.

Cut this kind of sugar

The sugar offender to steer clear of is refined white sugar, the kind spooned into coffee or added to baked goods. The bloodstream absorbs this simple sugar quickly, causing surges in blood glucose levels and insulin that can wreak havoc on the body, says Avena.

Refined sugar is also added to countless food products during processing, from ketchup to bread to salad dressing to beef jerky. Manufacturers try to trick consumers by calling it cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or some other unfamiliar name, but they’re all just fancy ways of saying sugar. Molasses, honey, and maple syrup are also added sugars, and though they’re not always processed the way refined white sugar is, they have the same harmful effect, says Avena.

Sweets you can eat

The types of sugar you don’t have to ditch are found naturally in foods, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk products. These get a pass as long as you consume them in their original food form. “Fruit, for instance, contains an amount of sugar that is in better proportion with the amount of fiber and other nutrients in it,” says Aveda. “These other nutrients mitigate sugar’s harmful effect.”

Artificial isn’t the answer

Swapping out sugar in favor of a chemical sweetener like aspartame or saccharin may not be the answer. “Artificial sweeteners provide sweet taste without calories, so when you consume these products, hunger isn’t satisfied, leading you to crave more afterward,” says Kohn. A 2013 study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism lends credence to this, finding that drinking just one diet soda a day is linked to weight gain and diabetes.

Why do chemical sweeteners boost hunger? It’s not clear, but it might have to do with the intensity of the sweetness in these products. Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than natural sugar, and that can dull your taste buds to less intensely sweet foods such as fruit, ramping up cravings for high-sugar—and high-calorie—foods, says Kohn.

Don’t go cold turkey

Because our bodies are so used to the sweet stuff, going sugar-free very abruptly can lead to crazy-intense withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, and mood swings, says Kohn. Ever gone without your usual morning latte or other caffeine fix? That’s what sugar withdrawal is like, times 10. “It’s better to ease yourself off it slowly by taking one step at a time, so your body has time to adjust,” says Kohn. Another reason to not be in a rush: slower changes tend to last, says Avena, especially when it comes to diet changes.

Give up sugary drinks

Soda, fruit juice, sports drinks, iced tea—these and other sweetened beverages are sneaky sources of added sugar. One can of cola, for example, racks up nine teaspoons, already a third more than the six teaspoon daily limit suggested by the American Heart Association.

“Sweetened beverages or drinks made from fruit juice are like liquid sugar, and they add lots of calories without satisfying hunger,” says Avena. She suggests substituting soda for seltzer, which has no added sugar and zero calories. As for fruit-flavored beverages and fruit juice, sub in fruit-infused bottled water or water with fresh fruit slices added to it.

Ditch simple-carb sweet treats

Pastries, cookies, muffins, and other white-bread, refined-flour treats offer little nutrition-wise but are dense with added sugar. And since they’re not hard to identify, it’s easy to slash them from your diet. They mess with blood sugar levels, setting up a cycle of grabbing a donut or muffin for energy that doesn’t last, says Kohn. Instead, get your carb fix with whole grains. These are converted to sugar during digestion, but because they’re the complex kind rather than the simple type, they’re absorbed more slowly and provide steady energy.

Suss out sugary restaurant food

They don’t call it sweet and sour pork for nothing. Many types of takeout or eat-in cuisine are smothered in sauces or coatings made with added sugar. Even the crust of takeout pizza is likely to pack hidden sugar, even though you may not taste it, says Avena. Glazes, condiments, and even pasta sauces are often loaded with sugar, the same sugar that is just as harmful in a prepackaged box of cookies, she adds. Read labels carefully: look for brown sugar, corn syrup, maltose, fructose, dextrose, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, cane syrup, and evaporated cane juice, which are all just other ways to say “sugar.”

Ease off the table sugar

If you’re used to adding sweetener to your food and drinks, give yourself time to ease out of the habit, suggests Kohn. Typically start your day with two spoons of sugar or honey in your tea or coffee? Cut back to one sugar for a week, then slash it to zero a week later—or sweeten it with a slice of orange or a little milk. Same thing with the sugar you put on top of French toast or cereal, or the maple syrup doused on your pancakes. Gradually reducing the amount will make it less noticeable that you’re cutting back, and you’ll be less craving-crazed for a sugar hit.

Designate a sweets drawer

If the rest of your household isn’t cutting back on sugar with you, you’re likely to see sweet treats and added-sugar products all over your kitchen, inviting temptation. “Instead, make one drawer or shelf in your kitchen the place where everyone else can stash their treats, but you don’t have to see the products every time you open the cabinet or fridge,” suggests Avena. Most of us go for the food we see first, so if you don’t see sweets, you won’t crave them, and then cave in to them, she adds.

Pile protein and healthy fats onto your plate

Cutting out sugar is the perfect excuse to indulge in more healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, avocado, dairy) and lean protein (eggs, turkey, and legumes). Both keep you feeling satiated and energized, preventing the blood sugar rise and fall that can lead to hard-to-resist sugar cravings.

A protein-fat breakfast will help you start the day off right. “Have a breakfast with protein and fat as the stars, like eggs and avocado, instead of the traditional starch and sugar combo, like a muffin or sweetened cereal,” suggests Kohn.

Go with naturally sweet flavors

To satisfy a sweet tooth without resorting to the refined stuff, just look through your spice rack. Cinnamon or vanilla extract added to coffee, cereal, or baked goods offer a sweet taste without sugar’s side effects, and zero calories too, says Kohn. Other sweet spices and herbs to add to beverages and meals include chicory, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. Citrus zest also adds a fruity, refreshing sweetness.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Military

New Rules Mean No More Outside Food for Guantánamo Bay Inmates

Guantanamo Future
Charles Dharapak—AP A soldier stands at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who were captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, on Nov. 21, 2013

Critics say the policy severs a valuable emotional link to outside world

New military regulations will prevent attorneys from bringing food to inmates being held in custody at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, reports the Miami Herald.

Effective this week, the ruling will reverse a long-standing policy that allowed inmates’ representatives to bring fast food and homemade treats into their legal conferences at the facility.

Attorneys chided the ruling as another means of cutting off their clients’ few remaining links to life outside of the military prison, where Washington incarcerates alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

“It’s actually quite tragic for the clients,” attorney Alka Pradhan told the Miami Herald. “Sometimes the food we bring is the only thing from the outside world they’ve seen in months, and they really look forward to it.”

Prison officials have defended the policy citing health and safety reasons.

[Miami Herald]

MONEY Food

Olive Garden’s Breadstick Scientists Have Worked Their Magic Again

Darden Restaurants Inc. Reports 3rd Quarter Earnings Results
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

"The flavor profile of the breadstick is powerful," said one Olive Garden executive.

Just when you might have thought there were no more crazy things Olive Garden could do with breadsticks, the restaurant chain is back to assure us it has at least one more dough-based creation in the tank.

The Associated Press reports Olive Garden’s next bread-in-stick-form invention will be call the “breadstick crostini.” The new offering is essentially sliced toasted bread and will be part of an appetizer, to be added to the menu in August.

The move comes just weeks after the restaurant announced a breadstick sandwich, scheduled to debut on June 1. However, more breadsticks should come as no surprise as Olive Garden revamps its menu to play up its core competencies.

“The flavor profile of the breadstick is powerful,” said Jose Duenas, Olive Garden’s executive vice president of marketing, in an interview with the AP.

So powerful, in fact, that Olive Garden customers are demanding even more breadstick innovation. Jim Nuetzi, executive chef for Olive Garden, explained that “he has been getting other suggestions for dishes that incorporate breadsticks” ever since the breadstick sandwich was revealed.

MONEY food and drink

Burger King Testing Hot Dogs and Corn Dogs

Inside A Russian McDonald's Corp. Restaurant As Putin Instigates Government Investigation
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Residents of Michigan and Maryland will be the first to get their hands on some experimental Burger King dogs.

Fast-food fans, rejoice. Hot dogs and corn dogs may one day come to a Burger King near you.

According to the Consumerist, the Whopper maker is now testing both types of dogs at locations in Maryland and Michigan. Alas, it remains unclear exactly which stores are serving this experimental menu item, but we do know corn dogs will cost $1.49 each, while grilled hot dogs will run you $1.99 and come with ketchup, mustard, onions, and relish.

If this pilot program is expanded, Burger King will be entering a cut-throat hot dog/corn dog market where Sonic is currently king. Arch-rival McDonalds also experimented with a McHotDog in the past, but the product was a failure and later relegated to Japan. As the Consumerist notes, Burger King also previously released a breakfast hot dog (you read that right) in Japan, which makes us wonder if Japan likes hot dogs even more than Americans do.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

3 Delicious Ways to Get Creative With Your Veggies

sweet-potato-fries
Getty Images

Try homemade sweet potato fries

Bored with the same old salads and green juice? Time to get creative! Check out these fun ideas for falling in love with your vegetables all over again, from Candice Kumai, chef and author of the forthcoming book Clean Green Eats ($19; amazon.com).

Spiralize your squash

Get your pasta fix by putting yellow squash or zucchini into a spiralizer, then sautéing the “noodles” lightly in olive oil. “Just toss them with your favorite marinara and you’ve got a low-carb, high-fiber dish!” Kumai says. “If you’re still craving real pasta, you can do half and half.” Don’t have a spiralizer? Use a peeler to create squash “ribbons.”

Shave your sprouts

Cut Brussels sprouts in half, then carefully use a mandolin slicer to thinly shave them. “You can sauté them in oil and season, or drizzle on a homemade balsamic vinaigrette for a salad. I like to add blue Roquefort, walnuts and sliced pear for sweetness,” Kumai says.

“Fry” your sweet potatoes

You probably already order sweet potato fries at restaurants every chance you get. Why not make a healthy version at home? All you have to do is peel two medium sweet potatoes, then slice lengthwise. Lightly coat them in coconut oil and bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Turn them halfway through.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Food

Arby’s Weird New Meat Ad Lasts Almost a Whole Day

Last year, Arby’s took weird advertising to a new level, airing two commercials consisting of nothing more than footage of meat getting smoked. Today, you can get those ads on DVD.

Yes, really.

Arby’s is handing out 500 free copies of the DVD set, featuring four discs of brisket and two of turkey, reports Mashable.

The success of last year’s ad campaign made the Smokehouse LTO sandwich a huge hit for the fast food chain.

The chain is promoting the giveaway with an avant-garde commercial parodying the type of infomercials that used to be oh-so-common for DVD box sets and other entertainment collections. The ad, seen below, is airing during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block:

If for some reason you want to watch meat cook, you can get your own copy at freemeatdvds.com.

 

TIME Research

The Scientific Reason Why Airplane Food Tastes Bad

It has to do with the dry cabin air

Why does airline food taste so lousy? A new study from Cornell University has come up with an answer, and it ain’t bad cookin’.

Turns out, the noisy environment inside a claustrophobic airplane cabin may actually change the way food tastes.

In the study, 48 people were handed a variety of solutions that were spiked with the five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (basically, a Japanese word for the savory flavor found in foods like bacon, tomatoes, cheese, and soy sauce). First, the testers sipped in silence, then again, while wearing headsets that played about 85 decibels of noise, designed to mimic the hum of jet engines onboard a plane.

What the researchers found: While there wasn’t that much of a change in how the salty, sour, and bitter stuff tasted, the noisy surroundings dulled the sweet taste, while intensifying the savory one—which might explain why a meal eaten on a plane will usually seem a little, well, off.

“Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced,” said Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science. “The multisensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat.”

This isn’t the first time airlines have tried to figure out the reason behind funky in-flight food. The Fraunhofer Institute, a research institute based in Germany, did a study on why a dish that would taste just fine on the ground would taste, “so dull in the air,” as Grant Mickles, the executive chef for culinary development of Lufthansa’s LSG Ski Chefs, put it to Conde Nast Traveler.

German researchers tried taste tests at both sea level and in a pressurized condition. The tests revealed that the cabin atmosphere—pressurized at 8,000 feet—combined with cool, dry cabin air numbed the taste buds (kind of like when you’ve got a bad cold). In fact, the perception of saltiness and sweetness dropped by around 30% at high altitude. Multiplying the misery: The stagnant cabin dries out the mucus membranes in the nose, thus dulling the olfactory sensors that affect taste. All of which adds up to a less-than-fine dining experience.

The good news: This research may help airlines find a way to make in-the-air meals more palatable. (That is, for flights and airlines that still offer any food at all!)

The key, according to Mickles, may be using ingredients or foods that contain a lot of umami to enhance the other flavors. He may be on to something: The folks at the Lufthansa have found that passengers guzzle as much tomato juice as beer (to the tune of about 425,000 gallons a year). Turns out, cabin pressure brings out the savory taste of the red stuff.

Good to know. Now pass the earplugs—and bring on the Bloody Marys.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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