How to be a better eater in 2010

A new year, a new decade. A new opportunity to be a better eater, diner and cook. If you truly are what you eat, why not be more conscientious?

Plenty of experts can help you improve the ways you consume food. Here are 10 ways to better foodism in 2010.

1. Please your palate. Fond of fish but fear cooking it? Love the cuisine of New Orleans? Cooking schools are bursting with opportunities for you to indulge passions you thought out of reach.

2. Master making healthy food at home. Look for classes that focus on nutrition with topics like whole grains, lower-fat foods, meat alternatives and even gluten-free baking.

3. Get kids in the kitchen. Bond with your kids while cooking at home, or sign them up for a kids cooking class.

4. Cooking and courting. Fire up your romance with a cooking class for sweethearts.

5. Be adventurous. When shopping, pick up something new, whether it's seafood, low-fat bison meat, or a veggie you haven't ever had.

6. Explore ethnic foods. You'll save money and make new food discoveries by shopping at ethnic groceries.

7. Shop at the source. Farmers markets brings produce, baked goods, coffee, goat cheese, honey, jelly, tamales, salsa and other foods directly to you from the local growers or makers.

8. Forget processed food. You need to eat clean simply because there's a direct correlation between the way you feel and food's distance from its original state. "So many people have indigestion and bloating because their stomachs are deficient in enzymes that process food," says Garlyn Mayo, a certified natural therapist who works in nutrition, herbology and hydrotherapy at Natural Therapeutics in Fort Worth, Texas. She says that broccoli salad makes your body much happier, for instance, than broccoli cooked to a limp state.

You can give that digestion a big boost by eating yogurt with probiotics; if you have issues with cow's milk, look for goat's milk and sheep's milk yogurts at higher-end grocery stores and health food stores.

Bear in mind that vividly colored, organic produce (dark greens, blueberries, oranges) carries the most nutrition, too. And if the price of organic produce — always a better choice than the alternative — scares you, buy a vegetable and fruit wash to rid your produce of pesticides.

9. Ask for help, and save money in the process. Your grocery store should be a source of guidance. Some stores offer tips on stretching your food dollar and even a discount on bulk purchases.

10. Support local restaurants. Rediscover your hometown's dining-out origins by revisiting eating establishments that remain in the hands of founding families, serving their neighborhoods for generations, through thick and thin.