Part of consistency in heathy eating is eating food that tastes good. This generally comes from eating fresh food simply prepared, but it also helps to have some knowledge of spices. Today’s Food Friday is devoted to introducing some spice basics. It is also to introduce the concept of culinary armchair travel.
I do not get out much due primarily to my work. However, I appreciate many other cultures and many other cuisines of the world, and I like to bring them into my home whenever I can. This can mean something as simple as cooking a traditional dish from another country, or it can mean settling in for a film in Italian while eating a traditional Italian dinner. One time I even gave a French baby shower complete with a French menu, French inspired decorations, French music and pots of live lavender at each place setting. That to me is culinary armchair travel with all the trimmings.
To prepare, you should think about where you would like to go someday. Then get on the internet and find out about the foods of that place. Check out the every day meals as well as the holiday fare. Find something simply and healthy, then look for recipes. Pinterest, Epicurious.com and food.com are among many great sources of inspiration and recipes.
Most likely you will already have some basic dishes in mind, such as stir fry for Chinese, tacos for Mexican, chicken curry from India, or spaghetti with meat sauce for Italian. You probably already know the basic recipes. Perhaps all you need is a little help with the spices. For this, I have prepared the following basic guide.
Spices can be used as individually, but most commonly and deliciously are used as spice mixes.
Some basic spices to always keep around
garlic, fresh and powdered
ginger, fresh and powdered
You can make your spice mix with whole spices and put them in a grinder for frequent use. Freshly ground mixes are far more aromatic than prepared mixes in the store. To do this, you can buy a grinder, but better yet buy a filled pre-made spice mix in a grinder and then just keep the grinder when it becomes empty. Store your spices in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
cayenne chili powder
Indian garam masala
Herbes de Provence
Thai spice mix
Mexican spice mix
Italian spice mix
Chinese spice mix
minced dried garlic
chili pepper flakes
It is a shame to reduce spice mixtures to such a simple list, but busy people need to keep things simple. When you mix the spices, start with 1/2 teaspoon of each or one part of each spice. Use quite a bit less of the very hot ones like cayenne. Adjust to your taste from there. Add salt to the dish only at the very end.
Try some culinary armchair travel with these varied flavors from diverse cultures. Use them to make your healthy cuisine more interesting and desirable for the whole family. Bon Appetite !