Saturday, July 9, 2011

Clean Eating Spices to Jazz Up Those Meals

     As you get more into Clean Eating, you'll discover that the best way to prepare meals is from scratch with as few prepared ingredients as possible. If you aren't an avid cook, or have always relied on pre-prepared may find yourself needing to freshen up that spice cabinet.

     Here are 10 spices you may or may not be familiar with, and the "Clean Cuisines" with which they are most commonly associated.

Dried Mint: If you like Mediterranean flavors ( Greek, for example ), this is a must. Combine it with olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice for a quick marinade.

Dried oregano: A little goes a long way. Use it in potato salad sometime - not just Italian dishes. And don't forget about Mexican oregano. It is spicier and more pungent.

Curry powder: It is usually a blend of chiles, cumin, coriander, cardamom, tumeric, and other spices. Keep it on hand to add Indian flair to a dish.

Bay Leaves: A couple of leaves help flavor soup or stew without overpowering it. Remember to remove them before serving!

Ground Cumin: This is a high impact spice, popular in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Easter cooking. It's for cooks who love full flavored ethnic foods.

Ground Allspice: A pinch gives soups and stews an exotic Caribbean, latin, or Southeast Asian flavor. It is a key ingredient in spice cakes and cookies.

Black Peppercorns: Freshly ground pepper gives almost any dish a kick. Try cracking and pressing some into meat before grilling ( A good pepper mill is important! ) You'll never buy pre-ground pepper after trying freshly ground!

Paprika: Just a sprinkle adds color and flavor to casseroles and deviled eggs. It can be sweet or hot, and is popular in Hungarian and Spanish cuisines.

Ground cinnamon: Cinnamon crosses into savory cooking in Middle Easter and North African stews. For dessert, sprinkle it over fruit salad. Try Saigon Cinnamon.

Dried Chiles: Ground or flaked chiles ( ancho, chipotle, or crushed red pepper flake ) are key to layering spice, smoke, and richness to most dishes with heat - Latin and Mexican dishes, especially.