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Spice it up!

What I love most about cooking is the creativity.  You make things your way! My mom was always a super hero in the kitchen and growing up I noticed that most of the time she’d be without a recipe, deciding what she wanted to implement.  No one told her what to do; she just went and did it! And that meant the spices. I learned from the best and ran with it. Spice up your meals. Spice it up!

My hubby and I love real spicy food.  For the both of us, the HOTTER the better. Our pantry is stocked with spice, and for good reason.  The secret to making spicy food, and to spicing in general, is to layer the spice. Depending on the cuisine you need to make sure you always have chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, red chili flakes, cumin and a dependable hot sauce on hand! Mustards are also a solid way to layer your spice.  When cooking for the two of us I always add a kick to it.  But remember, you need practice and patience.  You can always add more seasoning, but it’s very hard to take it out.

Now for some spicing tricks so we can all be pros.  Use fresh garlic whenever you can, but garlic powder works well too. Skip the salt! Honestly, your food doesn’t need it the majority of the time and it just masks the flavors of veggies and meats.  Lemon and lime juice should be staples for your fridge! They make any meal better and they’re one item that can successfully dilute spices if you go a little overboard.  I’m having a love affair with dill, so get it in your cupboard!  It creates a whole new dynamic flavor. I use it in a myriad of dishes; it’s great on broccoli, cauliflower, eggs, turkey, shrimp, and salmon.  And if you’re a Trader Joe’s fan like I am, they have spices with built in spice grinders! My current favorites are the South African Smoked spice and the Lemon Pepper spice. Both staples in my household!

Buyers beware, pre-made sauces are everywhere.  A few are good, but most go overboard with extra calories and fat. One that I love: Trader Joe’s has a delish enchilada sauce that I’ve used to enhance Mexican dishes.  I’ve also been known to add a little General Tso’s sauce to my own version of Chinese spicy eggplant. But in general, STOP yourself people! Trust me, you’re food will be so much more enjoyable without that pre-made sauce. People will marvel at your culinary skills when you learn to spice it up on your own.

Spicing up your meals will change your life. Bland food becomes amazing, cooking with creativity brings fun into the kitchen, plus you’ll wow your family and friends.  Cooking can be easy, it just takes practice. And it’s essential to learn to properly season your food. Spice equals delicious. It doesn’t have to be intricate, it doesn’t have to take you more than thirty minutes and it can definitely be healthy.  Spices are normally calorie free. So adding extra flavor doesn’t add on extra calories, like if you say went and bought a pre-made sauce. Add those flavors naturally! Stock your pantry and use those spices people. Don’t be a slave to processed food and prepackaged meals ever again!

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