Friday, February 27, 2015

Spice Mixes on the Cheap with a Healthy Bonus

Spice blends can be really expensive and full of fillers, chemicals and junk you don't really want in your food.

But spices are also amazing! Spices are one of the healthiest ingredients you can add to your food: They lend an intense punch of flavor to any recipe, and quality spice blends can make otherwise bland meat and vegetables exciting. What's more, research shows that people think low-calorie food tastes better when it's prepared with spices and herbs (the same goes for low-fat dishes). Instead of using extra oil or fat in your recipes to make them satisfying, try out these super-simple DIY spice blends.

Since you're making them yourself, you know they're free of scary ingredients like additives or preservatives—and they end up being cheaper in the long run! Most of the ingredients in these blends are probably already sitting in your pantry, too—so have at it!

(Plus - the Dollar Store is a great place to buy spices inexpensively - and  Costco has really good prices is you are buying a lot of them like cinnamon)

Cajun Spice Blend
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp paprika
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (you can go as high as you want here—the more you add, the hotter it will be)
1 Tbsp dried oregano

This spice blend is great on grilled chicken, tofu, or even salads.

Greek Spice Blend
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp dried parsley
1 ½ tsp dried rosemary
1 ½ tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Use this on Greek salads, when roasting vegetables with olive oil, or in hummus.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp all spice
1 tsp ground cloves

Some fun uses for this blend are: in oatmeal, on yogurt, or even on a peanut butter sandwich with sliced bananas.

Lemon Pepper
Zest from 3 lemons
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp salt

This is great on chicken, on salads, or on popcorn.

Curry Blend
2 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

I’d recommend using this any time you want to give dishes an Indian flair.

Italian Spice Blend
2 Tsbp dried basil
2 Tsbp dried oregano
1 Tsbp dried thyme
1 Tsbp dried rosemary
1 Tsbp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt

This is perfect for lasagna or pasta dishes—and it even works well on sautéed vegetables with fresh garlic.

Chili Seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp regular paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika (or use 2 tsp regular paprika if you can’t find smoked)

This blend is an easy way to spice up chili recipes—or any southwestern dish, really.

Taco Seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
½ tps cayenne pepper
½ tsp black pepper (optional)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp oregano

In addition to using this for taco meat, you can also mix it into refried beans, use it to flavor enchiladas, or stir it into Greek yogurt as a substitute for a “spicy sour cream.”

Indian Sweet Spice Blend
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp hing (a.k.a. Asafoetida; find it online or at Indian markets)
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste (no more than 3/4 tsp)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander

This works great as a base for sautéed vegetables, in lentil soup, or any Indian stew. Just fry the spices in 1 Tbsp olive oil until the seeds make a “popping” sound, add your vegetables/lentils/etc. into the pan, and heat until the food is cooked through.