unusual food combos
July 31, 2022 12:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to lose weight and have changed my diet pretty significantly. I was googling for more recipe ideas and happened across one that blew my mind. More inside, of course.

The recipe I happened upon was a baked sweet potato mashed with... peanut butter.

At first this appalled me. It sounded objectively gross. But it was so wacky to me that I decided to try it - once. And goddamn it was tasty.

Are there any other non-intuitive food combos out there that sound completely bizarre but are secretly delicious? Would prefer recipes that are lower carb/higher protein and vaguely healthy (I found this recipe on a blog written by someone who lost the same amount of weight I'm trying to lose) but even if they're not I'd love to hear them because I'm curious - I won't eat them but I just wanna know.

posted by nayantara to Food & Drink (70 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: posters request -- frimble

Response by poster: I'm gonna eat the sweet potato with peanut butter very often now btw. It was filling and lovely and had great texture and umami. Nom.
posted by nayantara at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2022 [6 favorites]

Watermelon and black pepper.
posted by mekily at 12:59 PM on July 31, 2022 [6 favorites]

I put peanut butter in everything. Instant noodles, oatmeal, yogurt. Basically anything that could use a little extra oomph, I use peanut butter to make it more substantial and satisfying.
posted by potrzebie at 1:05 PM on July 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Savory oatmeal! Throw some hot sauce and a fried egg in there instead of bananas and maple syrup or whatever.
posted by saladin at 1:12 PM on July 31, 2022 [20 favorites]

Strawberries, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar. I also recently came across honeydew/cantaloupe melon with feta cheese-- amazing!

Also, and this might just be a me thing but do try it-- natural (not sweet) peanut butter on dark rye toast with French fried onions from the can on top.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Cheddar and raspberry jam on bread (any firm, intense cheese with not too sweet jam, basically). I'm told it's a Dutch thing.

Also, I like to combine soy sauce with olive oil for a salad dressing. The type of oil doesn't matter so much, but the soy sauce is magic.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:31 PM on July 31, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Slice a fresh drum cabbage like you would an uncut loaf of bread - just one slice to start. Then spread slice with peanut butter. It is a mix of crunchy fresh deliciousness and the protein from the PB releases the goodies from the cabbage.

Salt on slices of granny smith apples. Yum.
posted by Thella at 1:32 PM on July 31, 2022 [5 favorites]

Banana + egg. Mush together very well, cook like a pancake.

Banana + spinach, fresh or frozen. Blend. Add anything else if desired. (Add at least enough water/other liquid so blending works.)

This one seems to gross everyone out but me, so forgive me, but I like it...
Can of tuna fish + can of spinach.
Squish absolutely as much water out as possible. Mix together. Possibly add chopped/diced/shredded pickles.
Eat alone as is, or on anything. Cracker. Tortilla. Wheat toast. Oatmeal.
posted by stormyteal at 1:36 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fig and olive tapenade (I skip the goat cheese and use vegan cream cheese, instead).

Also, watermelon with mint, onion, pepper, and vinegar. Tastes much better than it might sound.
posted by alex1965 at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2022 [3 favorites]

You can mix fruit into ground beef when making hamburger patties. I originally saw this called a "Michigan burger", I guess because Michigan is known for growing cherries, which are my favorite fruit and why I was interested in the recipe in the first place, but actual people from Michigan haven't seemed to know much about this. Regardless, I made it once. It was OK. You don't taste the cherries too much, TBH.

This isn't a combination you can do yourself, but I recently bought some Raspberry Tipple cheese, and it was a pleasant combination.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2022

Best answer: goddamn it was tasty.

FYI, classic African stew recipe components!
posted by praemunire at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2022 [26 favorites]

For a snack when I want something sweet without actually eating anything sweet: mix a good size spoonful of 100% cocoa powder in a bowl of full fat plain yogurt.
posted by phunniemee at 1:51 PM on July 31, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I make meatloaf with craisins, uncooked oatmeal, sunflower seeds, chopped carrots, and anything else in the fridge really and blend with shrimp cocktail sauce.

There's a version of Thai Pomelo Salad made with grapefruit, shallots, and peanuts with a lime juice/fish sauce/soy sauce/chili flakes dressing.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:04 PM on July 31, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Just about any salad you can put peanuts in. Green salad. Cole slaw. Fruit salad. I don't care, if you're mixing a pile of room-temperature plants together, peanuts belong in it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:21 PM on July 31, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Been eating steel cut oats with cheddar cheese and a poached egg for breakfast. The various flavors and textures are noisy and good.
posted by wenestvedt at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Very hassle-free, delicious recipe based on your original combo.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:29 PM on July 31, 2022

Best answer: Spread some fresh butter on a slice of radish. Absolutely delicious.
posted by dobbs at 2:32 PM on July 31, 2022 [3 favorites]

A simple variation on savory oatmeal is just oatmeal + olive oil + salt and pepper. Works especially well with fruity olive oils.

Pickles and peanut butter. Oh, and raw carrots and peanut butter - the slight sweetness of the carrots is a great match for the saltiness of the peanut butter.

Simple salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato) topped with feta and canned tuna and a vinaigrette. The feta and the tuna work weirdly well together.

This won't help in terms of a recipe but: Once a Nigerian visiting America prepared a pot of food using ingredients he was able to find at the corner store, so this was a compromise for him, but it included cabbage, potatoes, canned beans, canned tuna fish, and bananas. I was surprised by how well the bananas worked, especially given that I often don't like savory/sweet things.
posted by coffeecat at 2:44 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Pear and fennel
Sweet potato and tahini (not far from peanut butter)
Pork chops smothered in blueberries
Steak smothered in Shaved carrots
posted by pazazygeek at 2:44 PM on July 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mark Bittman’s eggplants and honey
posted by scratch at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Blueberries, feta, mint, salt, pepper and olive oil.
posted by Phyllis keeps a tight rein at 2:59 PM on July 31, 2022

Best answer: Following on your peanut butter/sweet potato combo- I use a spiralizer on sweet potatoes, bake em and then follow a recipe for Thai peanut noodles. (Peanut butter, soy sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil) and add in some veggies and/or meat.
posted by noloveforned at 3:00 PM on July 31, 2022 [7 favorites]

Peanut butter on burger patties. (I'm vegan, so it's PB on Impossible.)

Annie's Goddess Dressing and maple syrup.

Miso and ice cream.
posted by MagnificentVacuum at 3:07 PM on July 31, 2022

As I write this, I am having a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich. (Vegannaise actually, but both are good.)
posted by moonmoth at 3:17 PM on July 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

I've never heard this done, but I am telling you....

When I was little I must have been a pain in the ass about eating. My gram would but vanilla ice cream on a spoon, scoop up some chicken soup on the SAME spoon and feed it to me.

I LOVE it still.

When ever I make a good chicken soup I hide away and have it.
posted by beccaj at 3:28 PM on July 31, 2022 [7 favorites]

I can’t vouch for peanut butter on a hamburger personally but I had a good friend swear by its deliciousness.

My favorite has always been the French fries / Wendy’s Frosty combo, and as it turns out, science agrees: The Science Behind Wendy's Frosty & French Fry Phenomenon (Thrillist)
posted by KatlaDragon at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2022

My mother's been eating a bunch of fish with fruit lately, which I guess isn't too out-there as a combo but she's gone beyond the usual mango/pineapple and doing, like, strawberries and blackberries also.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:14 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

I came here to recommend a miracle whip + peanut butter sandwich but moonmoth beat me to it.

What I will add is that that can be just the start. I grew up with it with lettuce added for crunch. (And when I did low carb a couple decades ago, I did it just wrapped in lettuce instead of with bread.) I’ve gotten more adventurous with it lately though.

Add jelly or jam—sometimes I’ll mix the jam and miracle whip beforehand to make it easier to deal with. It can also live in your fridge like that, so mix up a small jar’s worth of it to have on hand. You probably want a stronger flavored jam to stand up to the miracle whip, but I did try a watermelon jelly recently with it (very subtle flavor) and the jelly still came through, so who knows.

Add dry or honey roasted peanuts (use smooth peanut butter in this case) for a different texture than crunchy PB gives you.

The above two could be combined, but this stands alone: add pickle. I’ve only tried it once at somebody’s suggestion and while it wasn’t my favorite, it was ok.

All of the above said, my roommate has this predilection for throwing literally any condiments/spices in the fridge/pantry together with zero consideration how they might taste together—brown mustard, spicy mustard, honey mustard, sriracha, hot sauce, mayo, sauerkraut, red pepper flakes, all together, as an example—and he thinks miracle whip + PB is gross, so who knows.
posted by tubedogg at 4:21 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Peanut butter & dill pickles

I agree that peanut butter, mayo, & strawberry jam is delicious.

Chutney & sharp cheddar cheese sandwiches

Curry powder in egg salad or deviled eggs

Crushed potato chips on ice cream
posted by belladonna at 4:52 PM on July 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Pancakes made with red lentils. I swear to you they don't taste like lentils at all.

Soak a cup and a half of lentils in water to cover overnight. In the morning, add a few tbsp of maple syrup, lots of cinnamon, and a bit of oil (I use sunflower) or an egg. Whiz in a blender til smooth, and fry like regular pancakes in butter or oil. I drop blueberries onto mine once I've poured the batter in the pan. If you can still taste the lentils, add more syrup and cinnamon to the batter.

You can also skip the syrup and cinnamon and make lentil flatbread instead. I like curry powder and whole cumin seeds, plus a bit of salt. Very quick and tasty. Also feels virtuous since it's low carb and high protein.
posted by ananci at 5:51 PM on July 31, 2022 [5 favorites]

Another good one for sweet potatoes is fresh lime juice and maybe a bit of zest. It's one of those combos that tastes better than it should.

Salsa made with a base of mango or peach is easy to find, but try other fruits. Last time I ran out of salsa I chopped up some hot peppers and mixed them with watermelon chunks, garlic chives, and salt. The time before that, I used a can of pineapple and hot peppers pureed in a good processor.
posted by SandiBeech at 7:15 PM on July 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

Going with the peanut butter theme (sorry, this one isn't low-carb). But whenever I have a chicken noodle-type soup, it tastes best with bread spread with peanut butter. Saltines and peanut butter will suffice too. There's something about the saltiness of the soup combined with the sweet saltiness of the peanut butter. It's amazing.

Oh, I saw something recently that peanut butter on BLT sandwiches was a thing. I tried it; it's also good.
posted by hydra77 at 7:27 PM on July 31, 2022

Raw garlic + anything fat (avocado, nuts, cheese, whatever)
posted by aniola at 7:38 PM on July 31, 2022

Carrots + chocolate
posted by aniola at 7:38 PM on July 31, 2022

Oatmeal cooked with red cabbage in addition to the usual
posted by aniola at 7:40 PM on July 31, 2022

Once, when I was visiting a friend when I was like 20 and knew even less about making food than I do now, I made a dish which he named "hot and beany piña colada" and I didn't live it down for years.

It had an ingredient I didn't like (peanut butter?) so I didn't like it. I still wonder if he was wrong or if it really was that bad. So maybe not that.

I still think it sounds good. But maybe not with peanut butter in it.
posted by aniola at 7:46 PM on July 31, 2022

This somewhat reminds me of the Korean "Army Stew" aka the Budae Jjigae, where Koreans make do with whatever the military base can spare during and after the Korean war, and often, it'd be canned stuff like spam, "Vienna" sausages, tofu, any sort of mushroom that can be hot-pot'ed, kimchi, multiple packs of instant ramen, optional korean rice cakes, green onions, and couple slices of American cheese (or whatever you got). If you have some Gochujan (Korean chili paste) , even better. Unusual combination of ingredients for sure. And probably salty as heck.
posted by kschang at 8:27 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Banana with pesto works surprisingly well.
posted by Woodroar at 8:44 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Fish in a fur coat, or "Shuba". It's pickled herring layered under beets, carrots, egg etc with mayonnaise. It was a strange concept to me but my Ukranian guests made it and asked me to try it - incredibly delicious.
posted by hazyjane at 11:04 PM on July 31, 2022

Date and walnut loaf (banana loaf at a pinch) and a slice of cheddar. Butter the cake if you feel this might be a bit too healthy.

Also works with dark, dense fruit cakes.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 11:11 PM on July 31, 2022

Best answer: On a recent family trip, my sister-in-law made a breakfast of crunchy peanut butter, scrambled eggs, and cucumbers served between toasted slices of bread. Absolutely delicious.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 12:10 AM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Fish baked on a bed of sauerkraut, under mashed potatoes or cauliflower. Roast goose or chicken stuffed with sauerkraut.
posted by bluebird at 1:21 AM on August 1, 2022

Best answer: Not low-carb, but: cinnamon raisin bagel + salmon cream cheese. Shockingly delicious.

Also - sweet potato + black beans + avocado, with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Canned tuna + miso. Seared tuna + blue cheese melted in heavy cream.
posted by pintxo at 1:22 AM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

My favorite way with peanutbutter is on thinly sliced dark rye bread with lots of seeds and kernels, with slices of apple on top. Not really weird, but I lost ten kilos once I had that for breakfast and lunch for 10 weeks (dinner as normal, but with lots of greens and a salad). Maybe I should try it again. German rye bread is more available than my local Danish in the US, if that is where you are, but it is a bit more acidic.

Sliced banana on the same rye bread with a pinch of salt is great too. I think the reason this works for a diet is the very high fiber content of the bread, and the fact that you slice it very thinly.

For a salad, lettuce with raspberries and blueberries, and a dressing made with cream and lemon juice instead of oil and vinegar. The cream has less calories and more protein than the oil, and the result is a nice mix of sweet and savory (you put salt and pepper in the dressing) and very fresh. Have this with a smoked or grilled mackerel and it's a good whole meal.

It isn't really the season now, but onion soup thickened with chopped almonds and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I showed this recipe to a chef friend, and he included it in his next cookbook. It's that good. And probably the Florentine precursor of French onion soup. Just writing this makes me look forward to winter. (From Food alla Florentine, by Naomi Barry and Beppe Bellini)
6 medium onions
6 ounces blanched almonds
6 cups beef consommé (seasoned, but not too strongly, since it will reduce)
sugar and cinnamon
peel and chop the almonds and onions finely, drop them into the consommé. Let simmer for 1 hour, by which time the onions should be reduced to a mush. Pass it all through a food mill or blend till you have a smooth thick soup.
Serve with a bowl of mixed cinnamon and sugar, so people can sprinkle to taste.

Korean Potato Salad. Not diet food, but delicious.
posted by mumimor at 3:02 AM on August 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

There's a YouTube series where Sohla and Ham make food out of a mystery ingredient that might interest you. They are so charming and fun.
posted by mumimor at 3:07 AM on August 1, 2022

Peanut butter and banana has probably already been mentioned upstream and I missed it.

Any fruit cut up with salt, pepper, cinnamon or other “sweet” spice, and a tiny bit of maple syrup. Add chopped mint if you have it.

Cole slaw on burgers
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:00 AM on August 1, 2022

Perhaps not quite in the same category, but I've always wondered... who got the idea for "beef and broccoli"?

Because there is no broccoli in China. There is a barely related vegetable called 芥藍, usually just called "gailan" here in the west, but it was previously, and currently called... "Chinese broccoli" but it's completely unrelated! Gai-lan is in the kale family!
posted by kschang at 5:27 AM on August 1, 2022

(kale and broccoli come from the same plant, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, and cauliflower)
posted by hydropsyche at 6:14 AM on August 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

I thought of a couple more:

I once had vegetarian enchiladas that contained cheese (probably mozzarella) and banana. They were topped with Mole sauce.

Waldorf salad sounds strange, but is delicious. Mix chopped-up tart apples, celery, nuts, raisins, & mayo. You could tweak it by adding some curry powder or chutney to the mix.
posted by belladonna at 6:48 AM on August 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

I like the Mar-Mar, a sandwich made with marmite and marmalade. Preferably on multigrain bread or rye, butter optional. Bonus points if you can eat it in front of a Brit, who will be horrified.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:19 AM on August 1, 2022

Best answer: I once had vegetarian enchiladas that contained cheese (probably mozzarella) and banana. They were topped with Mole sauce.

If you like this, you'll love pastelón, which is a Puerto Rican lasagna-like stacked casserole where the other ingredients are layered with sweet plantains rather than noodles. From a Caribbean point of view, plantains (either sweet or starchy) are a normal savory ingredient and this makes perfect sense. From a North American point of view, plantains are like bananas, bananas are a dessert ingredient if you don't just eat them on their own, and the whole thing is extremely weird.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:59 AM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Found out of low-pantry desperation one night at my house: sardines + old, leftover rice + frozen mixed veggies = now the only way we eat fried rice. My whole house loves it, but other people don't seem to want to give sardine fried rice a chance.

I still dream about a weird salad that I ate once at a restaurant: watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, and croutons in a sweet, spicy, and citrusy (tajin-based?) vinaigrette. Seems like it shouldn't work, but it totally does.

I regularly drink smoothies that are a mix of coffee, oat milk, banana, spinach, almond butter, and cinnamon. They look disgusting but are delicious.
posted by hessie at 9:00 AM on August 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

I put "good" olive oil and sea salt on vanilla ice cream. Had this at a restaurant once, with shaved chocolate, it was surprisingly delicious, and so I tried it at home. Even better if you have a lemon or orange flavored olive oil.
posted by Preserver at 9:15 AM on August 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

I find bananas and ketchup quite tasty
posted by mdoar at 10:28 AM on August 1, 2022

Best answer: Another Bittman: Sausage & grapes. So good.
posted by Lucubrator at 11:45 AM on August 1, 2022

I also like peanut butter and mayo. My grandmother used to eat it on crackers (mostly pb with a little mayo). She called it "fat on fat."
posted by radioamy at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Watermelon, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar glaze. Light and delicious!
posted by annieb at 5:42 PM on August 1, 2022

You might like this sweet potato and peanut soup. It's not sweet though, and a little high in calories (but filling, obviously!).
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 7:33 PM on August 1, 2022

My father once made a chocolate cream pie where the recipe called for garam masala. He didn't realize that the garam masala we had contained onion and garlic powder.

It was amazing. Chocolate + garlic = absolutely fantastic.
posted by darchildre at 9:36 AM on August 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

We had a potluck at work this week, and someone brought in cookies with very dark chocolate and fresh rosemary. Unexpectedly to me, they were a big hit.
posted by box at 4:50 PM on August 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

In an old Minnesota church cookbook was a salad composed of thin sliced snickers chocolate candy bar and granny smith apples. It was sweet, tart, crunchy and lively.

Other pairings or marriages of flavors:
* cranberry sauce, brie and bacon. Heck, salty bacon and any sweet preserves is great especially with a cheese
* avocado can be savory and sweet. I grew up with avocado, condensed milk and crushed ice. A nice savory one is pistachio oil, salt and lemon skin twisted for a spurt of oil
* ementhaler cheese with bittersweet chocolate was the surprise flavors on a trip to New Jersey
posted by jadepearl at 11:41 PM on August 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

Candied lettuce.

"In the 17th century, as French works of the period testify, the cores of lettuces were candied to make a prized confection known as gorge d'ange (angel's throat)." - Alan Davidson, The Oxford Companion to Food
posted by aniola at 11:37 PM on August 6, 2022

Al dente pasta (ideally some form of tubular pasta), grated aged sharp cheddar cheese,ketchup and ...... Crumbled Twiglets (weird marmite snack crackers).....

The cheese needs to be put on last so it doesn't melt too much.

(Not really low carb....)
posted by lalochezia at 3:29 PM on August 7, 2022

Honeydew melon wrapped with
posted by hortense at 10:42 PM on August 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

A thing that I think only my family eats, but which has been in regular rotation my entire life: original flavor Doritos dipped in cottage cheese. Fucking phenomenal (and I would never eat cottage cheese in any other situation).
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:04 AM on August 9, 2022

Cottage cheese with everything bagel spice, cucumber, and tomato
Cottage cheese and salsa is good on baked potatoes
Cold cuts (I use veggie) with cream cheese and a pickle, rolled up together
Scrambled eggs with tzatziki
Grapes and lime juice or pineapple and lime juice (can also freeze for dessert)
Sweet potato with chickpeas and spices of choice; add pistachios and/or a fried egg for extra awesome and super filling and delicious
Tomato and peanut butter on bread (Schmidt 647 bread is a lower carb favorite)- sometimes I add everything bagel spice
Mashed potatoes in a frittata (with other veggies)
Dates with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips (amazing and filling)
Peaches with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, and balsamic vinegar
Apples and pine nuts sautéed and then added to cooked chicken (I use vegetarian)
Also you can make Waldorf salad with yogurt instead of mayo

Also I got some of these ideas from Eat This Much, which you may enjoy. Abbey Sharp has some great YouTube videos where she turns small amounts of junkyish food into more filling snacks - one of my favorites is adding a PopTart or protein bar to Greek yogurt with fruit.
posted by eleanna at 7:12 AM on August 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

I love peanut butter with all kinds of things, and I experienced a Grade A revelation when a friend told me that *peanut butter is a sauce*. PB + mayo + ketchup + sardines right?

Star anise and any kind of roast meat.

Sprinkle salt on mangoes or watermelon to bring out a cool sharp taste.

Add dates to your pizza.

And consider these 30 combos.
posted by storybored at 7:43 PM on August 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Split pea soup with a little ginger and rosemary works surprisingly well.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:45 PM on August 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you like spicy stuff, you might like peanut butter and sambal on bread.
posted by neushoorn at 12:00 PM on August 24, 2022

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