My Go-To Spices

Go-To Spices

Are you getting tired of cooking with the same flavors over and over again? I get the same way sometimes. I’ve found that I don’t need to keep 50 different spices on hand to mix up the flavor profile of my food. Here are the spices (other then salt and pepper) that I keep on hand to give my taste buds variety.


 Cumin Pronounced both CUE-Min and COO-Min, this spice is most commonly used in chili and stew because of its earthy flavor. I find that this spice emphasizes the heartiness of certain ingredients. I like to use cumin in dishes with mushrooms and kale because it adds a meatiness to those two ingredients. Now, I don’t mean it adds the flavor of meat, but rather it adds a smokiness and earthiness that “beefs up” the flavor of both kale and mushrooms.

> Red Pepper Flakes I love spicy food and shamelessly put red pepper flakes on almost everything. There’s a difference between the spice from red pepper flakes than the spice of cayenne pepper or siracha. Red pepper flakes provide a very direct heat similar to the heat found in Mexican food. Once you take a bite and start to chew, you feel the heat, but it dissipates quickly. I like to use this spice for added heat in my pasta, salads and salsa. That being said, I like some heat in almost everything I eat, which leads me to…

(More on the blog: My Favorite Healthy Snacks)

> Cayenne Pepper This spice means business. I liken the heat from this spice to the gradual heat from Italian or Chinese food. When cooking with cayenne pepper, a little goes a long way, and for good reason. When you first take a bite, you will think to yourself, “Maybe I should’ve added more” because you won’t feel it at first. While cayenne takes until your next bite to really hit you, it definitely hits you harder than you expect. I like to use cayenne pepper when cooking recipes that either (a) usually don’t have any heat or (b) have direct heat that dies down quickly.

> Bay Leaves If you cook using vegetable broth then you know that it is bland. Bay leaves add an earthy, floral flavor to whatever you’re cooking. A few things to note about bay leaves: they should be used in broths/soups and should not be eaten because our bodies cannot digest them – bay leaves should be left whole. I really like how the addition of one or two bay leaves in chili breaks up the smokiness and adds a lighter, floral note that serves a nice break from all of the spice.

(More on the blog: How I Meal Plan)

These spices are some of my favorites to deliver variety to my taste buds. Here are some of my favorite spice and food combinations to give you some ideas how to spice up (pun intended) your go-to meals.

> Mac and Cheese + Cayenne Pepper

> Store bought Italian dressing + Red Pepper Flakes + Dried basil

> Greek spices: Dried Basil, Dried Oregano, Cumin

> Sautéed Kale/Spinach/Greens with Cumin + Nutmeg + Tumeric + Garlic powder

> Plain Bread Crumbs + Dried Parsley + Dried Thyme + Garlic Powder + Salt

How do you spice up your favorite meals?


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