Spice it up! Instead of adding salt, butter, or oil to your meals, add some flavor! My number one cooking tip— flavor lightly, you can always add more spice, but if you drop in too much Tabasco, it’s over. It’s also important to know what your guests are allergic to and what they don’t like. If I have someone coming over like my nephew Ryan who’s allergic to all nuts, I make sure to not even touch a peanut before I start cooking.
If you aren’t a big cook or don’t know where to start, look at the foods you like. I like to eat Italian, Asian, and Latin, so I spice it up accordingly. Here are some of my favorite spices for each region.
Agave Nectar (like honey but breaks down slower in your body)
Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Red Chili Paste
Rice Wine Vinegar
Red Pepper Flakes
Most of my dishes start with a fresh onion and some jarred minced garlic. Then I dash in some of the above seasonings. I love boxed tomatoes— if I’m cooking Italian or Latin, I will cook them with the onion and garlic, and toss in whatever veggies I have in the house. Once the veggies are soft, I’ll take them out of the pan and then use that same pan to cook chicken, beef or fish. That helps add flavor. Another secret trick, if the spices and some veggies are stuck to the pan, I will pour a little wine or chicken stock in the pan to loosen it up. Those little bits add a ton of flavor.
If I’m cooking rice, pasta, or potato, I season them after they are done cooking. I like to season my noodles before I add any type of sauce. Since high blood pressure runs in my family I try to avoid cooking with salt. If I decide to add salt, it’s usually at the end of cooking. If you use kosher salt, it gives you a bigger flavor then table salt, and it’s easy to pinch a little of that into a dish.
Grilling season is about to begin! You can create really healthy meals on the grill that taste great without a ton of calories. You should pay attention to what’s in the store bought marinades. Many of them are loaded with salt and sugar. A simple marinade is olive oil, pepper and garlic— try marinating your meat overnight. If you can’t do it overnight, 20 minutes before cooking works fine. If you have a sweet sauce that has honey or sugar, add it the last few minutes of grilling. If you add it to soon, the sugar will burn your food. I add more seasoning each time I flip whatever it is I’m cooking. If there’s a sale and I buy a bunch of extra meat, I’ll toss pepper, basil, and garlic on it before I freeze it. When you defrost it, it will already have a great aroma.
For more on spices, check out this video where I quickly talk about my 10 favorites:
1. Onion Flakes
2. Garlic Powder
3. Lemon Pepper
4. Celery Seed
Let me know some of your favorite spices.