Random thought: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a food swap? You know, where everyone fixes their favorite dish, divide it into smaller sized portions in containers, and swap out their dish in exchange for another someone else has cooked. That means you can cook once, and end up with at least 4 different dishes. Neat, huh? On the Daniel Fast, I think that would be so cool to do! Maybe next year…
Today, I would like to talk about seasonings. Since you will not be cooking with meat as a flavor enhancer, you need a good arsenal of key spices to make any vegetarian dish pop in flavor. Let me share with you a few of mine.
1. Olive oil. I season the bottom of every pot I am cooking in with at least 2 tbspn of olive oil and saute garlic, onions, and/or shallots. This is an EXCELLENT starter base and flavor enhancer for beans, soups, greens, green beans, etc.
2. Vegetable stock. Use this as a water replacement in your rices and vegetables when it is called for. I put a few splashes in my smothered cabbage and it made that cabbage sing!
3. Salt and pepper, but mix it up! My FAVORITE salt to use in veggies (and meats) is Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt. That stuff is DA BOMB! It has salt and a mixture of herbs and will impart seasoned gourmet flavor in your dishes. I reach for this salt all the time. You can find it at most of your grocery stores. You will love it. As far as pepper, use fresh cracked pepper that you have to twist and freshly grind. The taste is far superior than just ground black pepper in a shaker – far more superior. Of course, just plain Kosher salt and black pepper will do, but buy a quality one.
4. Garlic powder and onion powder. I keep these on hand if I need a deeper vegetable flavor to my dishes, without adding more salt.
5. Oregano, Basil, Thyme. The best herb trio to have on hand, dried and fresh. It is a must in most soups, marinara sauces, chilis, and Italian dishes.
6. Colgin’s Hickory Liquid Smoke. This is the stuff! You want that smoky taste in your greens, cabbage, or pinto beans without the meat? Use this. A few shakes is usually all you need. I also use this on my meats before I grill.
7. Cajun or Creole Seasoning. This is a good “Southern” enhancer to dishes where you want that well seasoned flavor reminiscent of the French Quarter. I use this not only in my gumbo, but in my greens, cabbage, beans, etc. The combination of all the seasonings add rich color and taste. You can even make your own Creole Seasoning, which I have a recipe for 😉
8. Mrs. Dash. Can’t have salt in your dishes? We got you! I love the Mrs. Dash line of spices. They come in all flavors and you can experiment with whatever taste you want. I usually keep the original one on hand. It really wakes up the natural flavors of vegetables, and if you read the label, that is usually what is in it – dehydrated vegetables.
9. Fresh Italian Parsley. And you thought it was just for garnish…Nope! Parsley gives that extra brightness in flavor to whatever you sprinkle it on. Because it is a delicate herb, add it in the last minute of cooking – you will really taste the difference. I ONLY buy ITALIAN parsley, not that curly looking one (which has no flavor and is only fit for garnish).
10. Lemons, limes, and oranges. Just a squeeze of citrus fruit sometimes is all you need to add an extra element of flavor. I also like to use the rind to zest in salad dressings or other recipes.
11. Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Vanilla extract. How could I have almost forgotten my sweet spices! These are the top spices you want on hand if you are baking apples, pears, fixing coconut rice, roasting carrots, frying plaintains, or making oatmeal. They really enhance the element of sweetness in your sweet fruits and vegetables, not to mention will have your kitchen smelling sweet from the aroma. These are a must for Apple crisp! A little trick I do is put a little nutmeg in my smothered squash, zuchinni, and onions (and try a pinch of nutmeg in your macaroni and cheese…off the fast…but I digress) Lol!
I hope you found this list of spices helpful. Don’t be afraid to amp up the spice in your dishes, or add more or less in a recipe to suit your taste. Spice up your dishes – and your life! And please…no generic brands – make the investment and use QUALITY!