The art of spicing is the difference between a good meal and a great meal. There have been many times when I have gone to the store and just picked out a new spice because I was going to try something new. A few spices that I want to share with you because you may not be as adventurous as me, but I have tried them so now these spices are tried and true!! My top five spices you should always have in your kitchen are as follows:
5) Cayenne Pepper
The first spice that I have tried and fallen in love with is the spice Merken. I was first introduced to this spice by Pam Leveritt. She came to my house to teach me clean cooking, and pulled out her incredible bottle of merken. Merken is a spice that tastes like barbecue. It gives any meat a sweet smokey flavor that will make your grilled chicken a new level of delicious!!
The second spice I have come to love is the spice cumin. Cumin is used for many things, but is most commonly used for taco seasoning. When you buy a taco seasoning packet it is packed full of sodium and many many chemicals. Sometimes those packets even contain MSG! We used to buy those packets until we found cumin. It is very cost-effective and it tastes amazing. It has replaced our taco seasoning one hundred percent of the time and is now a great healthy way to make a tasty taco bar. Cumin has also been shown to help aid digestion and even fight the common cold!!
The third spice that every kitchen should have is the spice coriander. I put coriander in everything. It tastes amazing in soups or in casseroles. My favorite recipe to make with this is a curry. My mother brought back a recipe from Africa when she lived there many years ago. Since we started on 30 Days to Fit, we have tweaked the recipe to be gluten, dairy and sugar-free and it is wonderful. We use coconut milk and the combination of coconut milk and coriander is divine!! Coriander makes a very mild curry so if you like a good kick of heat in your food be sure to add come cayenne pepper to help turn up the heat! And the health benefits are great too! Coriander has been known to alleviate inflammation, lower cholesterol and even lower blood sugar!
The fourth spice that I love is cinnamon. When I decide to have a warm protein shake, I use cinnamon to give it a latte taste. It gives your shake a little something new to help keep your food fresh! Also it is a nice addition to any protein bars that you make. The taste of cinnamon is a taste that I could never do without!! Cinnamon has also been proven to balance blood sugar and help alleviate arthritis pain. Just the smell has been known to improve brain function!!
The last spice that I believe no kitchen should be without is cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is absolutely one of my favorite spices. I love spicy foods and a small amount of cayenne goes a long way! I love to make mexican chocolate protein bars with cayenne pepper. the bars are nice and sweet when you first bite into them but then you taste the cayenne and it warms you up. Cayenne has also been known to help aid in digestion, remove plaque from the arteries and to help remove bad cholesterol!! How cool is that!! I have bought organic and I have also found cayenne in bulk and bought it that way.
Spices are everywhere. Many times when you go to a restaurant and a dish is amazing, it is because it is spiced to perfection. Do not be afraid to play in the kitchen. Your mother always told you not to play with your food, but throw that out the window!! Yes, you may mess up and add too much of one spice or too little of another, but you will learn. 30 Days to Fit is all about learning how to cook and if you truly commit, you may even learn to love cooking! I know that when I get into the kitchen for dinner my eyes light up because I love to play with all the possibilities and when I start cooking I don’t know what I will be eating for dinner. Will it be a soup or a stir fry? What spices… hmm maybe a little of that and a lot of that. Anything you want. Play around in the kitchen and use what you have. The most important piece of advice I ever got about cooking was this: When you go to cook a meal, open your fridge and use up the ingredients you have. If you have many ingredients that you don’t know how to use, combine them and see what you can make. You may create a meal that will become a favorite in your house. How will you know if you don’t try?