Happy Saturday! I trust you all are enjoying the day. I am back with another nutrition tip today. With all of the rich holiday treats around, you do not want your regular daily meals to be bland and boring or you will be more likely to overindulge! My tip today is to spice up your meals.
If you have looked at my recipes, you will have already noticed my love affair with Penzeys. They are a bit more expensive than your standard grocery store spices, but in my opinion they are absolutely worth it since I can definitely tell a difference in the quality of the product. I try not to be a spice elitist, though, so I understand that not everyone can fill up their spice cabinet with a specialty brand. As with everything else, do the best you can. Just having a well-stocked selection will help you add flavor and depth to your foods. When I first started cooking I used the same few varieties, but after years of experimentation I have expanded my collection with things like sumac and coriander, or blends like Tuscan Sunset. Dried herbs are great since they will last for about 6 months to a year, so even if it feels like you are spending a good bit when first stocking up they will last a while.
Of course I am just as big of a fan of fresh herbs. They add a different bright flavor than their dried counterparts. Just tossing in a few handfuls of fresh chopped scallions or basil can completely elevate a meal from just OK to fantastic. Growing a few varieties in your garden or even inside in small pots can be a great way to make sure you always have some on hand. That extra pop of green can add a bit of extra nutritional value to a meal and possibly also make you feel more satisfied.
Another way I love to add flavor to my meals is balsamic vinegar. I just went to my local Oli + Ve today to restock for the holiday cooking season. There seem to be a lot of these different stores around now, so check your area to see what you may have available. They have dark and white balsamics that are so delicious and deep in flavor. I love that they let you try all of them before you buy, and they recycle the bottles (a win for the environment). Again, these may be a bit of an investment so you do not have to buy the whole store like I did. Maybe try investing in a flavor or two to start and figure out what you really love to use in your cooking! A little bit goes a long way, so you can definitely make a bottle last for a number of meals. I especially enjoy using them to create different salad dressings or to make a bowl of fruit feel fancy. One of the ladies at the shop today even suggestion adding a bit to some club soda–a great idea for a “mocktail” if you want a fancy drink without the alcohol.
Look to other types of cuisine for ideas on how to combine your seasonings. Traditional Indian curries are rich in turmeric, cumin and cinnamon, while Italian dishes make more use of basil, oregano, and balsamic vinegar. Or just find your own flavors! That is one of the beautiful things about cooking–there is no wrong way to do it. Just get in the kitchen and try some things out. You may have a few (or more) fails, but in the end if you put a little bit of time into it you will find your groove!
What are some of your favorite ways to spice up a meal?