Seasonings & Sauces, this is my favorite category on our food blog. Say what? How can this seemingly mundane category be your favorite? Because this is where you will find recipes that provide so much fabulous great tasting flavor! Our tasty seasoning and sauce recipes offer creative ideas for chili seasoning, steak subs, rib rubs, taco seasonings, fajita seasonings, blueberry sauce, chicken marinade, cranberry sauce, spice blends, barbecue sauce, and more.
You can find all these yummy recipes in our Seasonings & Sauces Category on Your Daily Food Choices blog.
Essential additive seasonings like herbs, spices, seeds, alliums, or condiments greatly enhance the flavor and aroma of almost every dish that is prepared for pleasurable consumption. All-important sauces, ranging in flavor from savory to sweet, are used by culinary chefs in cuisines all over the world.
One of the biggest complaints we read or hear about “healthy food” is that it is boring, tasteless and bland. Rubbish! Combining seasonings to perfection or preparing your own sauces can make your food taste like you are a culinary genius. Hello genius!
Visualize Your All Time Favorite Foods!
Let’s do an experiment. Take a minute to think about some of your all time favorite foods you have even eaten at a restaurant, a party, or a family gathering.
Did you picture a tender juicy rib-eye steak drizzled with an elegant red wine sauce? Or did you envision chicken enchiladas topped with tomatillo sauce? How about steaming hot pancakes topped with a lemony blueberry sauce? Or did fantastic tasting, falling off the bones, barbecue ribs come to mind? What about a rich caramel cheesecake topped with decadent chocolate granache?
What Makes Memorable Food Great?
I could go on all day, but here’s the scoop. Memorable food almost always gets associated with unforgettable intense flavor. And where does this remarkable intense flavor come from? You guessed it, seasonings, sauces, and a collection of other flavor boosting products like:
What? Make Sauce Recipes and Other Flavor Boosters?
But wait a minute, yup I hear you saying it. Aren’t all these sauces and flavor boosting products readily available to buy at the supermarket? You Betcha!
So why would you want to make sauce recipes and other seasoning recipes yourself? Because when purchased, almost every one of these highly processed products contains loads of sugar and other nasty ingredients like artificial flavorings and preservatives.
Does this mean that you have to make everything from scratch? Well, in a perfect world that would be best. But we don’t live in that place and most likely you don’t either. We are all pressed for time and want to simply prepare the best meal we can as quickly as possible. What you need to do is pick your battles. That’s what we do.
If you are heavy into preparing a certain type of food like Mexican, then whip up batches of Mexican spices and sauces to have readily available when you make tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or chilies.
Another option is to read the manufacturing labels and buy sugar-free products like ketchup and barbecue sauce. Just be sure sugar is not included under a hidden name, especially in the first five ingredients. It’s disguised in at least 61 Different Names for Sugar.
If you often marinade your meats before cooking, whip up a batch of marinade rather than purchasing a sugar laden product. Make extra and store the marinade in the refrigerator to use over the next few days.
Seasoning with Aromatic Herbs
Herbs, whether fresh, frozen, or dried are a great addition to many and various foods.
What are herbs?
Herbs are any green or leafy part of a plant used for flavoring or seasoning a recipe. They add special flavor and even a spicy taste that makes your food immensely more enjoyable. In general, it only takes a small amount of herbs to give the flavor boost desired.
Fresh versus dried herbs
Herbs are at their flavor peak when fresh, but dried are heavily relied on, especially during winter months when your garden supply is no longer available. If not growing your own herbs, you can use clam-shell packages of fresh herbs, but these are expensive.
Dried herbs are best added during cooking to give their flavor time to infuse the food. Fresh herbs are best when added at the end of cooking. This way their flavors are fresh and their colors bright.
If using frozen herbs, add at the end of cooking just like fresh herbs. However, don’t garnish with frozen herbs as they will look wilted.
Health benefits of herbs
Besides adding rich flavor, herbs provide numerous health benefits. Herbs contain antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients, and essential oils which help our bodies boost immunity levels and fight against toxins and germs.
Do dried herbs have same nutritional value as fresh herbs?
The answer is most likely no, because some nutrients and flavoring will be lost during the drying process. But dried herbs are still very nutritious. Because dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh, you usually need about three times less dry than fresh. So if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh, you will need 1 teaspoon dried.
Beneficial herbs aid these health conditions:
- Relieve rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics
- Reduce total cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease
- Reduce risk of colon, prostate, pancreatic cancer
- Reduce risk of stroke
- Reduce risk of coronary artery disease
- Help prevent osteoarthritis
- Increase circulation
- Calm digestive problems and ease nausea
10 popular healthy herbs
BASIL: This bright-green fragrant herb, often call the “king of herbs” is quite popular in Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Basil is prized for its sweet, minty, and mild peppery flavor.
It is a very good source of vitamin K and potassium and a good source calcium, vitamin A and manganese.
Use basil in tomato sauces, pesto, salads, salad dressings, and sandwich spreads. It is excellent in stir-fries, soups, eggs, vegetable dishes, and casserole dishes.
CILANTRO: This leafy green perennial herb is widely used in savory dishes in most parts of the world. Cilantro is heavily used in Italian, Indian, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Asian, and North African cooking.
Cilantro is very low in calories with one fourth cup having only 1 calorie. It is a very good source of vitamin K, vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese.
Use fragrant cilantro in meat dishes, salads, vegetable dishes, soups, chicken dishes, pastas, fish dishes, and salsas.
MARJORAM: This pleasingly fragrant perennial herb is a member of the mint family. Sweet tasting marjoram is popular in Italian, French, North African, Mediterranean, and American dishes.
Marjoram is a very good source of vitamin K and iron. It is a good source of vitamin A, calcium, manganese, and dietary fiber.
Use marjoram in vegetable dishes, salad dressings, egg dishes, stews, lamb dishes, soups, sauces, sausages, and poultry dishes.
MINT: Deep green mint is a delicious aromatic herb that will freshen up your meals in a snap. The most popular mints are peppermint and spearmint. It is widely used across Europe and in large parts of Africa and Asia. Mint helps to calm digestive issues and ease nausea.
Mint is very low in calories as two tablespoons only have 5 calories. Key nutrients in mint are dietary fiber, vitamin A, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C.
Use mint leaves raw in fruit dishes, salads, and beverages or added at the end of cooking to soups, meat dishes, sauces, desserts, and vegetables. Mint leaves make an excellent garnish and when steeped, they produce a flavorful tea.
OREGANO: Used extensively in Italian and Greek dishes, this strong herb with grayish-green leaves is a potent antioxidant that helps the body resist infectious diseases. Oregano is one of the foundation bases of the healthy, widely popular Mediterranean diet.
Oregano is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin K, iron, calcium, and manganese. It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Add aromatic oregano to salad dressings, bean dishes, soups, vegetable dishes, sauces, cheese dishes, gravies, casseroles, meat dishes, sausages, egg dishes, and pork recipes. Don’t forget to sprinkle it on homemade garlic bread and pizza.
PARSLEY: This mild and dark-green leafy herb is widely used in Mediterranean, East European, and American cuisine. Parsley makes an attractive garnish and is commonly used in many restaurants.
It is an excellent source of vitamins K, C, and A. Parsley is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, calcium, and potassium. Plus, it has niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese. Wow! No wonder parsley is such a popular culinary and medicinal herb with its unique antioxidants and numerous disease preventing properties.
Use parsley in fish dishes, sauces, chicken dishes, soups, meat dishes, salads, rice pilafs, vegetable dishes, dips, pesto, and gravies.
ROSEMARY: Scented with pine and lemon, rosemary looks like a small sprig from an evergreen tree. It contains antioxidants and may help in treating cancer and aid digestion.
Rosemary is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and manganese.
Use this pungent herb in soups, tomato sauces, soups, stews, eggs, meat, vegetables, lamb dishes, salad dressings, and chicken dishes. Chop some fresh rosemary to mix with olive oil for an excellent dip for warm breads.
SAGE: Silvery-grey sage, a member of the mint family, is noted for its dusky, earthy flavor and aroma. It is popular in Greek, Italian and Balkan cuisines. Sage has long been used in traditional European and Chinese medicines due to its disease preventing and health promoting properties.
It is a very good source of vitamin K and dietary fiber. Sage is a good source of calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
Sage is delicious in classic poultry dressings, pasta sauces, meat dishes, soups, stews, fish dishes, sausages, frittatas, omelets, beans dishes and vegetable dishes.
TARRAGON: This perennial growing herb tastes like licorice with a slightly sweet flavor and is very popular in Mediterranean cuisines. A member of the sunflower family, its dark green, smooth-surfaced leaves have pointed ends.
Low-calorie tarragon is a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin A, iron, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Use tarragon in potato, mushroom, and other vegetable dishes. Add it to green salads or salad dressings. Mix it with Greek yogurt to make appetizing dips. Tarragon is also used in sauces, vinegars, and marinades.
THYME: This delicate looking light green herb, a member of the mint family, is used in homemade spray cleaners. Swish thyme water around in the mouth for gum infections and healing teeth extractions.
It is very low in calories as one teaspoon only has 1 calorie. Thyme is a good source of vitamin C, iron, manganese, and vitamin A.
Thyme has a fresh, slightly minty taste that makes it a great addition to casseroles, stews, dressings, bean dishes, eggs, meats, chicken, and fish. Sprinkle fresh thyme on cooked vegetables and add it to salads, salad dressings, and soups.
Seasoning with Flavorful Spices
Cooking with spices adds a flavor of adventure and mystery to any meal.
What are spices?
Spices are any dried part (bark, berries, seeds, roots, or twigs) of a plant, other than the leaves, that is used for flavoring or seasoning a recipe. Distinctly aromatic spices have a high content of essential oils and they are the backbone of many prepared dishes. Spices are always used in dried form and are either whole or ground.
The basic rule in the use of spices is to enhance the flavor of the main ingredient in the recipe. How you choose to do this is what makes cooking so magical.
Health benefits of spices
In addition to adding rich flavor and aroma, spices offer numerous health benefits. Spices contain many plant-based chemical compounds including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and essential oils that are known for their health promoting, and disease preventing properties.
Health conditions benefiting from spices:
- Prevent coronary artery disease
- Prevent strokes
- Relieve bronchitis
- Treatment for colds and flu
- Increase digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Relieve indigestion and nausea
- Provide relief for arthritis and sore muscles
- Control blood pressure
- Treatment for mild fevers
- Remove toxins
- Increase circulation
- Inhibit cholesterol absorption
- Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s
- Help with weight loss
- Reduce risk of diabetes
12 popular flavorful spices
ALLSPICE: A dark-brown small dried berry, allspice comes from the evergreen pimento tree. This dried berry which in grown in the West Indies, has the flavor similar to a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; thus the name allspice.
Allspice is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, manganese, and calcium. It is a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium.
Use allspice in soups, stews, pork dishes, sauces, desserts, baked goods, pickling, fish dishes, tomato condiments, and meat dishes.
BLACK PEPPER: The most used spice in the world, black pepper comes from tropical perennial vines that can grow up to 33 feet. Black pepper is from immature berries while white pepper is from mature berries. Black pepper may be bought as whole peppercorns, cracked, coarsely ground, or finely ground.
Key nutrients in black pepper are manganese, iron, vitamin K, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.
Black pepper is so popular and universally used that it is applied to almost all meat, egg, and vegetable dishes providing bite and satisfying heat.
CAYENNE PEPPER: Want to add a spicy kick to your meal? Use a dash or more of red colored cayenne pepper, made from dried and ground hot chili peppers. Cayenne pepper is perfect in Mexican and Cajun dishes and provides a great burst of heat and flavor without the need for extra salt.
Cayenne pepper is very high in vitamin A and a very good source for vitamins E, B6, and C. It also contains riboflavin, niacin, manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Try shaking it on popcorn or blending it into hummus. Use in soups, sauces, chilies, bean dishes, casseroles, eggs, salsas, and vegetable dishes.
CHILI POWDER: Pungent chili powder is the dried fruit of one or more varieties of chili peppers. Chili powder is common in Tex-Mex, Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Thai cuisines. It is often sold as a chili powder blend where chili peppers are mixed with other spices like cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika, and other spices.
Chili powder is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, manganese, iron, potassium, riboflavin, vitamins E, K, C, and B6.
Add chili powder to chilies, soups, bean dishes, casseroles, meat dishes, pork dishes, appetizers, flavored nuts, stews, egg dishes, salads, and anything barbecued.
CINNAMON: The fall reminding aroma of cinnamon is one of the most enticing in cooking and baking. Cinnamon, the most popular of spices and one of the oldest, comes from the inner bark of the evergreen cinnamon tree.
Loaded with antioxidants, cinnamon offers numerous health benefits. It is high in dietary fiber and manganese. Other key nutrients are calcium, iron, and vitamin K.
Add cinnamon to smoothies and coffee, use it in desserts and muffins, or add it to Greek yogurt and hot cocoa. Be sure to sprinkle some on oatmeal or toast for a great breakfast. Cinnamon is excellent in curries and lamb stews.
CLOVES: Cloves, the aromatic unopened flower buds of the clove tree, are rich and pungent in flavor. When pink, the buds are picked by hand and dried until they turn dark brown. Cloves are strong in flavor, so use sparingly.
They are a great source of manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Cloves also contain vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.
Cloves make a great addition to hot tea, coffee, desserts, quick breads, muffins, and fruit compotes. Cloves are excellent in glazes, pickling, stocks, marinades, and sauces. Whole cloves make for a beautiful studded ham.
CUMIN: This spice is the second most used spice in the world after black pepper. Cumin seeds come from a flowering plant in the carrot family. India produces 70% of the world supply and consumes 90% of what they produce. Add nutty peppery cumin to Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Tex-Mex recipes.
Cumin is rich in antioxidants and is a good source of iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, thiamine and vitamin A.
Use cumin in rice pilafs, stir-fries, soups, chilies, curries, casseroles, meat dishes, vegetables, fish dishes, and bean dishes.
GINGER: One of the best known of all spices, slightly sweet and spicy ginger is grown all over the tropics, coming from the root of the ginger plant. It is commonly used in European and North American sweet dish cooking plus Asian and African ethnic cuisine. Ginger is available in whole root, cut and sifted, powdered, and crystallized forms. Choose the one best for the dish you are preparing.
Key nutrients in ginger are manganese, vitamin E, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber.
Add ginger to quick breads, muffins, desserts, salad dressings, stir-fries, chutney, preserves, meat dishes, pickles, fish dishes, and vegetable dishes liked cooked carrots.
NUTMEG: Nutmeg comes from oval dried seeds found in yellow fruits that grow on evergreen nutmeg trees in Indonesia. The dried reddish membrane covering these seeds provides mace, another spice. This is the only tropical fruit that produces two different spices.
Nutmeg is a good source of manganese, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, and dietary fiber.
Keep a whole nutmeg in a tiny jar and grate it fresh on your dishes. Use nutmeg in desserts, puddings, hot teas, egg dishes, quick breads, muffins, lamb dishes, curries, meat dishes, fruits, sausages, rice dishes, dressings, and vegetable dishes.
PAPRIKA: Mildly spicy paprika comes from sweet red peppers and is the national spice of Hungary. It is used extensively in European, Spanish, African, and Portuguese cooking. Paprika releases its flavor and color when heated. Because of its deep red color, paprika makes an excellent garnish on deviled eggs, dips, and other appetizers but does little for their flavor.
Paprika is an excellent source of Vitamin A. Other key nutrients are iron, magnesium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, copper, manganese, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B6, C, and E.
Use paprika in tomato based recipes, chicken dishes, casseroles, soups, stews, meat dishes, and fish dishes.
SAFFRON: The world’s most precious spice, saffron comes from dried stigmas of a small purple flowering crocus. Each flower only provides three stigmas which are hand-picked and then dried. It takes 225,000 stigmas to make one pound of saffron. Fortunately, a little goes a long way. Saffron imparts a beautiful yellow color, sweet aroma, and distinct taste to Mediterranean, Arabian, and Indian recipes.
Key nutrients in saffron are manganese, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Use saffron in desserts, rice dishes, poultry dishes, sauces, fish dishes, stews, soups, egg dishes, salads, salad dressings, breads, and sauces.
TURMERIC: This pretty yellow color spice is one of the healthiest foods on the planet because it contains curcumin. Turmeric works wonders for pains, aches, and arthritis by stopping inflammation at the source and supporting the immune system with antioxidants. Dozens of studies have shown the health benefits of curcumin which protects against liver damage, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cerebrovascular dysfunction. Curcumin also helps control weight.
Use turmeric in Indian foods, egg salads, sandwich spreads, savory smoothies, sauces, tea, soups, and roasted vegetables. Also use it to add color to rice and eggs and flavor to fish and chicken recipes.
When purchasing turmeric, look for turmeric produced in the United States as some brands made and packaged in other countries, are high in toxic lead.
Buying and Storing Herbs and Spices
While dried herbs and spices do not really ever spoil, they do lose both flavor and color and should not be stored for years and years. Don’t hang onto spices for years at a time just because you want to save money.
How long do herb and spices last?
Dried herbs usually last for one year and can last up to three years. If the herbs have lost most of their color and aroma, then they have also lost most of their flavor and it’s time to replace them.
Unfortunately, spices start to lose their flavor when they are ground. The essential oils in spices begin to evaporate once exposed to processing. After a few months, spices have also lost their healthy benefits.
It’s important to buy ground spices in small quantities and replace them every six to nine months for maximum flavor. You can keep them for up to two years, but when the spices become weak in aroma, it’s best to pitch them as they will not provide much benefit to your recipe.
Buying spices whole and grinding them when needed yields the best flavor. Whole spices like cloves, stick cinnamon, and peppercorns have the longest shelf life, lasting up to three or four years. Also, whole spices do not contain any added salt or fillers.
Where do you store herbs and spices?
Herbs and spices are best kept in dark containers, not in glass jars which expose the ground item to light and changing temperatures. Herbs and spices keep best when stored in dark, cool, dry places. Keep them as far away as possible from your range as heat speeds up flavor loss.
Tips for maximizing shelf life of herbs and spices
- When you buy a new herb or spice, write the purchase date on the bottom of the container with a permanent marker and pitch the item when over a year old.
- Always keep herb and spice containers tightly closed and immediately close the container right after measuring out the desired amount.
- Always measure the amount of herbs and spices with a dry measuring spoon. Do not dip a wet spoon into the container.
- Go thru your herbs and spices every few months or at least once a year. Pitch those that are beyond their expiration or one year past their purchase date. Check the appearance and flavor of each herb or spice and if either are compromised, toss the item and buy a new one.
Seasoning with Crunchy Seeds
Precious little packages of nutrition, seeds are loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Incorporating seeds into a variety of dishes adds flavor, texture, and crunch to your meals.
What are seeds?
Seeds are embryonic plants encased in a covering called the seed coat. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Seeds are living foods, making it impossible to eat raw seeds without absorbing nutrition. Some seeds make good cooking oils like sesame oil and avocado oil.
To fully derive the full nutrition from seeds, they are best eaten raw. When seeds are exposed to high and sustained heat, the vitamins, minerals, and essential oils begin to break down. If you prefer roasted flavor of seeds, dry roast them in a low oven temperature, about 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15-20 minutes.
8 healthy and delicious seeds
CARAWAY SEEDS: One of the world’s most widely used seeds, aromatic caraway seeds have a nutty, mildly licorice flavor that is sweet and sharp. These dark brown crescent-shaped seeds may have up to five lengthwise stripes on their surface. Caraway grows all over Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa. Caraway seeds are heavily used in Mediterranean and European cuisines.
Caraway seeds are moderately low in calories with one tablespoon having 22 calories. They are used to remedy colic, digestive orders, loss of appetite, and gallbladder spasms. Key nutrients are dietary fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin C, and potassium.
Caraway seeds are commonly added to savory breads, meat dishes, vegetables (especially cabbage and sauerkraut), egg dishes, cookies, soups, stews, salads, sausages, and cheeses.
CHIA SEEDS: Chia seeds come from a desert plant that grows in Mexico. Chia seeds have a mild nutty flavor and are either black or white in color. They are the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids having 85 times more than olive oil. Chia seeds are high in antioxidants; they help balance electrolytes and stabilize blood sugar levels.
When mixed with water they create a gel which makes them ideal for thickening puddings. You can use chia “eggs” as an easy substitute for one or two eggs in many recipes. This is a great option for those allergic to eggs or for vegans.
For a boost of flavor and nutrition, add chia seeds to oatmeal, smoothies, salads, rice dishes, baked goods, cereals, and energy bars.
FLAX SEEDS: Cultivated for centuries, flax seeds have long been known to offer medicinal benefits. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), and lignans (plant compounds with estrogen-like effects and antioxidants). Flax seeds may lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, cholesterol levels, and diabetes.
Flax seeds are usually added to recipes in the ground form for better nutrient absorption. Use your electric coffee grinder to do the grinding. You can use flax “eggs” as an easy substitute for one or two eggs in many recipes. This is a great option for those allergic to eggs or for vegans. You can also substitute part of the flour in some recipes for ground flax seeds.
Add ground flax seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, soups, sauces, casseroles, and stews.
HEMP SEEDS: Often called a super food, mild and nutty flavored hemp seeds are packed with protein, amino acids, and essential fats. Hemp seeds contain six times more omega-3 than raw tuna. While hemp seeds come from the same species as marijuana, they only contain trace amounts of the mind-altering compound THC. Hemp seeds may lower risk of heart disease, provide relief for skin disorders like eczema, aid digestion, improve metabolism, and reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause.
Hemp seeds are high in calories with three tablespoons having 174 calories. They are an excellent source of protein and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin E, iron, and zinc.
Sprinkle hemp seeds on salads and yogurts, add to smoothies and hot cereals, or use in salad dressings and baked goods. Use hemp protein powder to boost protein levels.
PUMPKIN SEEDS: Mildly sweet and nutty pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, come from pumpkins and are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine. These flat, dark green seeds have been used in traditional medicines for centuries. Pumpkin seeds have a diverse mix of antioxidants. They may promote prostate and heart health, help fight depression, and prevent kidney stones.
Watch your consumption of these nutrient rich seeds as pumpkin seeds are very high in calories with one fourth cup having 180 calories. They are an excellent source of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and copper. They are a good source of vitamin K, zinc, protein, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, potassium, and dietary fiber.
Grab a small handful of them for a healthy and tasty snack. Enjoy pumpkin seeds in cereals, energy bars, salads, baked goods, vegetable dishes, salad dressings, and ground meat dishes.
QUINOA SEEDS: Often mistaken for a grain, nutty flavored quinoa is a protein rich seed with an appealing crunchy texture. Delicate gluten-free quinoa is often eaten like a grain or ground into flour. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy with a slight crunch. There are three primary types of quinoa, white, red, and black. Most quinoa is produced in South America with Peru, Bolivia, and Chile being the highest producers.
Health wise, quinoa has anti-inflammatory benefits, helps lower cholesterol, lowers risk of heart disease, aids digestion, and helps manage hypertension. Quinoa is a very good source of manganese. It is a good source of protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, folate, iron, potassium, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and selenium.
Use quinoa as a tasty and hearty breakfast cereal. Also use in energy bars, salads, vegetable dishes, casseroles, soups, baked goods, pasta dishes, stir-fries, and bean dishes. Think of quinoa as a substitute for rice.
SESAME SEEDS: Tiny, oval, and flat in appearance, sesame seeds add a nutty flavor and a delicate crunch to your recipes. They are popular in Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. Sesame seeds are either white or black in color and are often roasted to enhance their flavor. They are used to make a paste called tahini. Sesame seeds may give relief for rheumatoid arthritis, support respiratory health, and help prevent colon cancer, migraines, and osteoporosis.
Sesame seeds are very high in calories with one fourth cup containing 206 calories. They are nutrient rich in copper, manganese, calcium, and iron. They are a good source of vitamin B6, thiamine, dietary fiber, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, and folate.
Use sesame seeds folded into savory breads, energy bars, or cookies. Try them sprinkled on vegetable dishes, stir-fries, oatmeal, or meat dishes. Add them to coatings for chicken and fish, rice dishes, and salads.
SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Whether for fans in the stadium or players in the dugout, what would a baseball game be without tasty, nutritious sunflower seeds? The product of the beautiful bright yellow sunflower, the seeds have very high oil content making sunflower seeds one of the main sources of polyunsaturated oil. These small but mighty seeds may help slow down aging, lower blood pressure, boost your immune system, and lower bad cholesterol.
Like other seeds, sunflower seeds are high in calories with one fourth cup shelled and dried containing 204 calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin E and copper. They are a good source of vitamin B1, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6, and folate.
Use sunflower seeds in salads, savory breads, stir-fries, vegetable dishes, energy bars, spreads, and egg dishes. They make an excellent garnish for green salads, oatmeal, and cold cereals.
Flavoring with Pungent Alliums
Say what, alliums? Oh yes! Aromatic alliums are flowering plants with edible bulbs that include six potent flavoring giants; onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots, and chives.
Just think how many times you have read a recipe that began with sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil or butter. Due to their earthy and pungent sweetness, adding alliums is one of easiest ways of transforming an ordinary dish into a sensory sensation.
The distinctive flavor of alliums ranges from strong to weak. If you have dogs and cats in your house, be careful, as most alliums are poisonous to our beloved pets. Alliums can enhance a dish with spicy sweetness and emit pungent aromatic pleasure unlike any other vegetable.
Health benefits of alliums
Since ancient times, alliums have been prized around the world for their flavor enhancing culinary uses. Alliums contain sulfides which are responsible for their pungent flavors and smells.
Research has confirmed that alliums also offer numerous health benefits. Alliums are powerful antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and stimulate immune responses.
Beneficial alliums aid these health conditions:
- Lower total cholesterol
- Support bone growth and density
- Lower triglycerides
- Lower risk of colon, stomach, prostate, and ovarian cancer
- Protect against heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevent osteoporosis
- Fight against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases
- Reduce risk of blood clots
- Prevent atherosclerosis
- Reduce risk of stroke
- Aid with sleep
- Reduce depression
- Help regulate appetite
6 Flavorful and aromatic alliums
CHIVES: Cute petite chives look like tall tufts of dark green grass and are the smallest of the alliums. Chives are super easy to grow. Just imagine stepping out on your patio to cut a generous handful of fresh chives for those steaming hot baked potatoes you just prepared. Nice! Chives are also available freeze-dried.
Chives are excellent flavoring for dips, bean dishes, soups, broths, stews, egg dishes, vegetable dishes, and salads. Because of their delicate flavor and bright green color, chives are perfect as a garnish. Chives are very low in calories, with one tablespoon of chopped chives only containing 1 calorie.
They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Chives can help lower risk of certain cancers like prostate, stomach, and colon. The choline nutrient in chives helps with sleep, learning, memory, and muscle movement.
GARLIC: Having the strongest flavor of all the alliums, garlic is highly prized in the culinary world. Garlic grows as bulbs which are made up of about 10 to 20 smaller cloves. In addition to bulbs, garlic is available in powder, minced, chopped, and salt forms.
Besides adding intense flavor to your food, garlic is healthy. Most of the health benefits of garlic occur when the clove is chopped, crushed, or chewed forming the aromatic sulfur compound allicin. Garlic is low in calories and a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Consuming garlic helps lower total cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of blood clots, reduce risk of stomach cancer, and fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia. Garlic supplementation helps prevent the common cold and flu. And don’t forget, garlic keeps vampires at bay! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist a little Dracula humor.
LEEKS: The largest member of the alliums, earthy flavored leeks look like giant scallions. They may reach up to two feet long and two inches thick. Leeks are often showcased in French, Belgian, and Dutch cuisine, coming as no surprise that they are a great compliment to potato dishes like potato leek soup. Leeks also pair nicely with fish, chicken, shellfish, and white wine sauces.
Leeks are low in calories as one cup of cooked leeks only has 32 calories. Leeks are high in vitamin K and a very good source for manganese, copper, vitamin B6, iron, and folate.
Leeks are helpful in stabilizing blood sugar by slowing intestinal sugar absorption and aiding metabolism. They also help protect blood vessel linings from damage and support our cardiovascular system.
ONIONS: The most familiar of the alliums is the bulb onion whose skin is white, yellow, red, or purple. While onions may be obtained fresh as straight from the garden or the local farmer’s market, most onions are purchased dried. Fresh onions are sweeter and milder in taste. Dried or storage onions have a stronger flavor and thick, paper-like skins. Dried onions are also available in chopped, minced, powder and salt forms.
Yellow onions are strong in flavor and store the best. They are excellent in soups, stews, and casseroles. Red onions are sweeter but do not keep a long time. They are often sliced and eaten raw on salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Tiny pearl onions are great choices for pickling or boiling.
Does chopping onions make you cry? Try chilling them for 20 – 30 minutes before chopping to slow down the release of their beneficial sulfur compounds.
Onions are low in calories. One medium onion has 45 calories. Onions are a very good source of biotin and a good source of vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, copper, and phosphorus. A few health benefits of onions are inhibiting growth of cancer cells, reducing risk of diabetes, reducing total cholesterol levels, lowering risk of heart attack, stimulating immune system, and helping prevent colds.
SCALLIONS: Mild flavored scallions are the immature plants of onions harvested before the bulb fully forms. Scallions are commonly called green onions or spring onions. Both the green tops and the white developing bulbs of scallions are delicious to eat. Scallions are often used in egg dishes and stir-fry dishes. Thinly sliced or even whole, they make a photogenic garnish for salads, soups, and casseroles.
Scallions are low in calories as one cup only has 32 calories. Scallions are loaded with essential nutrients and make sure you eat plenty of the green tops.
They are a very good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, dietary fiber, and iron. Scallions help lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease, promote eye health, improve bone density, aid respiratory function, support immune system, and reduce risk of cancer.
SHALLOTS: Mildly flavored shallots, which are sweeter and less pungent than garlic, are a favorite of gourmet chefs. Like garlic, shallots also grow as bulbs that usually divide into two cloves. Shallot bulbs grow in clusters and are most often copper brown in color. Shallots tend to perish rather quickly so store them in a cool dry place away from moisture.
Shallots are great in salad dressings, butters, vinegars, curries, soups, stews, and gravies. Shallots are very low in calories with one tablespoon rating in with 7 calories.
They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, manganese, folate, and potassium. Shallots help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of certain cancers, boost circulation, speed up digestion, and help manage diabetes.
How to Combine Seasonings for Culinary Success
A convenient method for combining herbs, spices, seeds, and alliums is by culinary cuisine. Pick any part of the world you want to experiment with and practice stimulating your taste buds. To start with, try picking 3 or 4 ingredients from a cuisine category. Keep experimenting until you find the seasonings you are in love with.
ASIAN: basil, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, chilies, cilantro, citrus peel, cloves, coriander, curry powder, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, paprika, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, Sichuan pepper, turmeric
CAJUN: allspice, basil, bay leaves, black pepper, caraway seeds, cardamom, cayenne pepper, celery seeds, chilies, chives, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, garlic, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, savory, tarragon, thyme, white pepper
CARIBBEAN: allspice, basil, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, mace, nutmeg, onion, paprika, thyme, white pepper
CHINESE: allspice, bay leaves, black pepper, cardamom, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, five-spice powder, fennel, ginger, lemongrass, nutmeg, sesame seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, turmeric, white pepper
FRENCH: basil, bay leaves, celery, chives, chervil, fennel, garlic, leeks, marjoram, onion, peppercorns, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
INDIAN: allspice, anise, black pepper, bay leaves, cardamom, cayenne pepper, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mace, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, onion, paprika, peppercorns, poppy seeds, red pepper flakes, saffron, sesame seeds, turmeric, white pepper
ITALIAN: basil, bay leaves, black pepper, celery, cilantro, fennel, garlic, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
JAMAICAN: allspice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chives, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, paprika, parsley, nutmeg, onion, red pepper flakes, scallions, thyme, white pepper
LATIN: allspice, anise, basil, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sesame seeds, thyme, white pepper
MEDITERRANEAN: basil, bay leaves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, onion, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme
MEXICAN: black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, garlic, jalapeño pepper, mustard, onion, oregano, paprika, parsley, red pepper flakes
MIDDLE EASTERN: allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, thyme, turmeric
NORTH AFRICAN: allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne pepper, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mint, onion, paprika, saffron, turmeric
MOROCCAN: allspice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, mint, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, saffron, thyme, turmeric, white pepper
SPANISH: anise, black pepper, basil, bay leaves, caraway seeds, cardamom, cayenne pepper, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mace, mint, mustard powder, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric
THAI: basil, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cardamom, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mace, mint, nutmeg, onion, paprika, shallots, turmeric, white pepper
A Word about Sauces
I absolutely LOVE sauce recipes. A great tasting sauce can take a dish from ordinary and bland to spectacular and mouth-watering. Sauces are easy to make and with just a few tweaks, you can create an unlimited variety of sauce recipes.
Whether savory or sweet, there are dozens of sauces to make to enhance the flavor of meats, vegetables, desserts, breads, or just about any type of food. Many are standard to a cuisine or country. Learn to make a few of these and turn ordinary foods into meals of awesomeness.
Here are several sauces but there are many more:
- Alfredo Sauce
- Barbecue Sauce
- béarnaise Sauce
- Bechamel or White Sauce
- Blackberry Sauce
- Blueberry Sauce
- Brown Gravy
- Buffalo Sauce
- Caramel Sauce
- Cheese Sauce
- Cherry Sauce
- Chili Sauce
- Chinese Brown Sauce
- Clam Sauce Cocktail Sauce
- Cranberry Sauce
- Cucumber Sauce
- Curry Sauce
- Dill Sauce
- Duck Sauce
- Enchilada Sauce
- Espagnol or Brown Sauce
- Fudge Sauce
- Garlic Sauce
- Ginger Sauce
- Harissa Sauce
- Hoisin Sauce
- Horseradish Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Lemon Sauce
- Madeira Sauce
- Marinara Sauce
- Mexican Mole
- Mint Sauce
- Mushroom Sauce
- Mustard Sauce
- Peanut Sauce
- Pizza Sauce
- Plum Sauce
- Port Wine Sauce
- Raspberry Sauce
- Red Chili Sauce
- Remoulade Sauce
- Salsa Verde
- Sour Cream Sauce
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Sriracha Sauce
- Strawberry Sauce
- Steak Sauce
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Taco Sauce
- Tartar Sauce
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Thai Peanut Sauce
- Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
- Tomato Sauce
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Veloute Sauce
- Vodka Sauce
- White Gravy
10 Tips for Using and Storing Seasonings and Sauces
- As a rule of thumb when cooking with herbs and spices, dried herbs and spices go in at the beginning of your cooking while fresh herbs go in at the end.
- The flavor pop and texture of fresh herbs make them ideal for garnishing a food or beverage. Just look at how many food photographers use fresh herbs for that ideal finishing touch.
- To maximum health benefits of alliums, let chopped onions, sliced leeks, chopped shallots, or crushed garlic sit for a few minutes before using in the recipe.
- Rub herbs like rosemary and thyme between your fingers a few times to help release the essential oils before adding to the recipe.
- When shopping for dry onions, pick ones that are very firm and with the outer paper-like layer intact. Pick scallions that are bright green and with tops that are not wilted.
- As a general guide, use 1/4 teaspoon of ground spices or dried herbs (or about 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs) per pound of meat or pint of soup.
- Store onions, shallots, and garlic in individual paper bags with several punched holes for air circulation. Keep the bag closed with a paper clip or binder clip.
- Have a bunch of leftover pesto? Freeze it in ice-cube trays to use later. Once frozen, pop it out of the trays, place into a zip lock freezer bag, label, and store in the freezer.
- Hate to see the rest of that fresh green bunch of cilantro or parsley go to waste in the vegetable drawer in your fridge? When you first bring a new bunch home, place the bundle into a small jar or glass of water, cover with a plastic bag and place on a refrigerator shelf. Check the jar every few days and add water if needed. The cilantro should last for 3 to 4 weeks and multiple recipes!
- Did you know that your can freeze fresh herbs? Yes, even herbs purchased in those plastic clamshell packages. Make sure the herbs are dry; then place into a small zip lock freezer bag with as much air removed as possible. Label, date, and pop into the freezer. These are great to use in any cooked dish.
Wrapping up on Seasonings and Sauces
We talked about what makes food memorable. We discussed aromatic herbs, the difference between fresh and dried, and reviewed the 10 more popular herbs. Then we talked about seasoning with spices, reviewed the 10 most popular spices, and discussed buying and storing herbs and spices.
We reviewed the 8 healthy seeds. Then we discussed flavoring alums and their health benefits. We showed you how to combine seasonings by cuisine. We talked about sauces and listed many basic ones. Then we gave you several tips for using and storing seasonings and sauces.
Whew! That was a lot of facts. There is so much more we could discuss, but now the choice is yours. You need to decide if you want to start making homemade seasoning recipes or sauce recipes and become that culinary genius that’s just waiting to emerge. Let us know if you have any questions.
Need more information for healthy seasonings and sauces? Below are a few articles for you to check out.
Sources and Enlightening Reading
The Best Way to Store Fresh Herbs by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats
7 Disease-Fighting Plants You Need To Be Eating by Aviva Patz from Prevention
15 Ways To Add Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Root To Your Life by Vani Hari from Food Babe
Spice Up Your Cooking With Herbs by Diana Rodriguez from Everyday Health
Herb and Spice Guide by Good Cooking
All About Allium Vegetables by The Vegetarian Site
Diggin’ Bulbs: Flavorful Alternatives to Onions and Garlic by Matthew Kadey, RD from Women’s Health
11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic by Joe Leech, Dietitian from Authority Nutrition
Do Dried Herbs and Spices Have Nutritional Value? by Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN from Nutrition Over Easy
Healthy Herbs nutrition facts by Nutrition and You
7 Healthy and Delicious Seeds by Cooking Light
The Top 10 Healthiest Seeds on Earth by Prevent Disease
10 Expert Tips for Making Healthier Sauces and Dressings by Brinna Steinhiber from Everyday Health
We Appreciate You!
Thanks for stopping by and letting us share a little about our healthy philosophy for seasoning and sauces.
We are here for you as a guide and as a friend. Let us know how we can help you embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s to lower calorie, great tasting recipes, and living well! And remember, what you eat really matters!
Linda and Steve
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