Being on a weight loss program, people seem to love to
spew their opinions make observations about what I’m eating. There’s one recurring theme I see to hear it all the time. “How do you do it? Diet food is sooooooo boring and has NO flavor.”
I have to admit, it’s really easy to fall into that exact trap. It’s just way too easy to get into a rut of grilled chicken breast, steamed vegetables, etc. The good new is that it doesn’t have to be that way!
Now I know that it’s really easy these days to pick up spice/seasoning blends to help spice up our food. With so many of these blends, when you read the label, they are chock FULL of salt. The beauty is that you can create many of those same flavors yourself by simply using the actual spices rather than relying on pre-packaged blends.
What’s that you say? You don’t know your cumin from your coriander? Well, here’s a quick guide of some of the most common spices to help you out:
- Allspice – A mix of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg that works great in Caribbean cuisine, marinades for meat and poultry, chutneys, and desserts.
- Cayenne – A smoky and fiery chili powder that works great in Mexican cuisine, meat marinades, chili recipes, and as crazy as it may sound, chocolate recipes.
- Chinese Five Spice – A mix of peppercorns, cloves, fennel, star anise, and cinnamon. It works great in many Asian cuisines as well as a rub for most types of lean protein. It also works well in stews with long simmering times.
- Cinnamon – There are several different varieties of cinnamon available which range from sweeter to stronger on the flavor spectrum. It works well in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines, fruit dishes, baked goods, and desserts.
- Coriander – Seeds from the plant that produces cilantro (a.k.a. Chinese parsley) that may be used whole or ground. It works well in many international cuisines such as South Asian/Indian, Mediterranean, Latin, etc.
- Cumin – Also a seed that can be used whole or ground that is popular in international cuisines such as Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin. It also works well with lamb and chili recipes.
- Curry Powder – A mix of turmeric, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and coriander that is most often used in South Asian cuisines. It also works well with eggs, seafood, sauces, and in soups & stews.
- Ginger – Adds a tangy element to dishes and works well in Asian cuisines. It can also be added to rice, couscous, curries, salad dressings, baked goods, and desserts.
- Nutmeg – This is an extremely versatile spice that can be used for a lot more than just pumpkin pie! It helps add a nice depth of flavor in just about anything — souffles, cheese dishes, egg dishes, custards, sausages, meat marinades, stews, lamb, chicken, and veal.
- Paprika – This is another spice that comes in a wide variety of flavor options — from sweet to hot. Great for adding depth of flavor, especially when using a smoky paprika. Works great for seafood/shellfish, soups, stews, potatoes, vegetables, chicken, and meat rubs/marinades.
- Saffron – This spice is derived from the flower of the Crocus plant and reported, based on weight, the world’s most expensive spice. It’s used in a wide variety of international cuisines and works well with rice, seafood, curries, chicken, and more.
- Turmeric – Also known as Indian Saffron is often used in Asian, Thai, and Asian cuisines. It works well in the same types of dishes as saffron.
As you can see, there are loads of options out there to spice things up in the kitchen. There’s no reason we should be having bland or boring food just because we’re pursing a healthy lifestyle.
What’s your favorite way to kick up the flavor in your recipes? Leave us a comment and share your ideas!