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Take Your Cooking to Another Level with Spices

Becky Johnson

Health is one of the most common areas of concern when people review what they want to change or improve about their life.  Spices can help!

Use spices to:

  • Add a depth of flavor to your meal
  • Avoid excess salt & sugar
  • Avoid additives
  • Avoid saturated fat

add spice to your cookingSome of the best meals are those that are layered with flavor.  The senses are stricken by a flash of bright color, heat or earthy flavors – perhaps hints of sweetness that can only be delivered by a sprinkling of basil or citrus zest.  Many restaurants and food manufacturers use fall backs such as margarine, sugar, additives or synthetic dyes to appeal – or to trick – people’s palettes.  I won’t speak badly against butter, as it has its place in the kitchen.  But I’ve banished margarine from my refrigerator as it was replaced by olive oil many years ago.  And food dyes?  Do you know how some of them are made?  Yick.

Try adding spices to add a new depth of flavor to your cooking.  For example, when you add a teaspoon of basil and fennel to a pound of ground meat at the end of the cooking process, you can easily liven up a simple meat sauce.  By adding chili powder and cinnamon to some olive oil and brushing it on your butternut squash before baking, you can bring out some wonderful aromas and flavors from your oven.

Food doesn’t need a ton of salt to bring out its flavors.  While you should use salt for the basics, such as in your pasta water, you can also consider using stocks, broths, mirepoix, or bouquet garni to deliver the same or better taste.  My mother was always a firm believer that those who dined at her table should never need extra salt or pepper.  Everything would always be seasoned just right before the food made it out of the kitchen. I am glad she taught me so much about cooking and flavor profiles – I can proudly say that my family does not miss the salt or pepper shakers on the table, but they almost always reach for the pepper when we dine out!

Additives and saturated fats seem to be in almost all processed foods.  It is nice to see many manufacturers are getting the clue that people do not want extra “FDA acceptable” additives whirled into their foods.  If you read anything about de-clumping agents, “natural” dyes or flavors, you’ll probably have a good understanding of my frustration with additives.

Cooking with fresh ingredients and eating “clean” will no doubt improve your health, but it will also make you want to cook and eat at home more often.

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