How To: Spices

Everything that is exciting and healthy seems to have twenty-five ingredients or more! What gives? 

Well, turns out, most recipes rely heavily on herbs and spices - which not only make your food more delicious, but also open up the opportunity to expand your taste buds.

If you're looking for a quick way to improve your palate, my suggestion would be to build up your spice collection! 

You can make so many different tasting recipes out of the same few ingredients if you have a multitude of spices. Plus, depending on where you live, might be able to get 'bulk' spices - I know from when I worked in a grocery store for a bit after college, people can purchase about .40 cents of paprika or .20 cents of oregano and just that tiny bit can go far. I wish I would have had access to bulk spices when I first started out on my cooking adventure - or even realized that was an option! Last week I went to fill up my onion powder, decided to get enough in bulk to fill up the spice jar, ended up getting enough for TWO jars and still only paid about $2 for all of it!!

Okay spices are important, so now what? Make your basic meal: Protein, carbs/starches, veggies. 

So lets say one night you choose chicken, potatoes, and mixed broc/carrots/onions. With the proper spices, you can make Italian chicken (oregano, thyme, parsley), spicy garlic potato fries (garlic, paprika, cayenne), and a veggie medley (cracked pepper, sea salt).

OR add some rice with those same items and you can go ethnic if you change up the spices: chicken biryani (turmeric, garham marsala), curried potatoes (curry, red pepper flakes), veggies (coriander, cumin) and steamed rice.

When I first started out, I was intimidated by the length of the ingredient lists. I quickly realized that a majority of the 'ingredients' on most recipes are actually spices. 

But spices are expensive! 

This is true. Before I knew about bulk spices, that is. When buying bulk, you can usually try just a few tablespoons of a particular spice at a time while you learn what you like, for just a few cents. 

But before my days of bulk purchases (before the option was popular), I made a practice of picking out a new spice to try every time I went to the grocery store. You don't have to get top-shelf, name brand spices when you are just getting into collecting your spices. Sometimes I even look in the international aisles, where you can find large quantities for cheap.

Starting with the essentials: parsley, basil, and thyme. Then move to more robust flavors like garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Turn up the heat with red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Get exotic and try curry, marjoram, ginger and garam masala. 

After a while, change up your salt and pepper for fresh ground sea salt and peppercorns with their own mills. And if you're really into it: grow your own! During the warm months I have an endless supply of fresh herbs that I grow in my own yard.

I spent a lot of time and money adding to my collection, but years later I have a huge rack in my kitchen with every spice I'd ever need. And my food is delicious (and healthy!) which means that I'm happy and healthy too.

I believe that there are no flavors you don't like, just tastes you haven't acquired yet!