I love to cook and I love food. Because I love food so much, I was really frustrated when I first had to cut out foods like grains, beans and fruits. Removing anything from your diet can be a challenge. And cooking without familiar ingredients can make food a little less exciting. Over the years I’ve figured out fun ways to bring the joy (and diversity) back into cooking. Whether you are embarking on a new diet for health reasons or you’re simply trying out new things in the kitchen, here are a few of my favorite ways to keep things interesting.
Oh how I love spices. They add so much to food and they can be medicinal. Sounds like a win win to me! Salt and pepper are great, but when it starts to get cold out, I love to use ginger and cayenne to warm things up. I also like to keep my staple dishes interesting by changing the flavors. You can make a dish Indian simply style by adding curry powder (usually a mix of turmeric, pepper, cumin, coriander and other spices) or garam masala (a mix of black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices). You can add an Italian flare by using dried oregano, basil, or even an Italian blend. It can completely change the feel of a dish. And it’s so fun to try new spices. “Spice up your life” is a good expression for a reason!
When I was growing up, condiments meant ketchup. Nothing else. I pretty much ate it with everything, from eggs to rice. Forget tomato sauce on my pasta, it was ketchup, unadulterated. I guess my taste has changed a bit since those good old days! Now, some of my favorite condiments are toasted sesame oil, coconut aminos (it’s a soy-free soy sauce substitute. It’s also gluten-free), lemon juice and ume boshi vinegar. Hot sauce and tahini sauce are two other great options. For those of you interested in incorporating some healing fermented foods into your diet, sauerkraut adds a great splash of flavor to salads, soups and steamed veggies. You can totally change the flavor of a dish depending on the condiments you use. It’s also a great way to make leftovers more interesting.
Nuts and Seeds
Texture is so important with food, and creating some textural contrast can make a huge different on a plate. I like to add toasted almonds or pumpkin seeds to salads or soups for some crunch. You can also use sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, pistachios, or cashews. You can use raw varieties, purchase them salted or roasted, or you can roast them yourself using any spices you like. My favorite way to roast nuts is with some cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Here’s my recipe for roasted spiced pumpkin seeds.
Like these tips? Awesome! Stay tuned for 3 more of my favorite tips for keeping things interesting in the kitchen. In the meantime, let me know what you’ve made and if you’ve incorporated any of these ideas.