Spices 101: What You Need to Know About Buying Spices

One might think that learning which spice to add to which dish is one of the first things you would be taught in Spices 101, but they would be wrong.

Learning to source and purchase fresh, quality products is paramount when learning to cook well with spices. Would you make a fruit salad with moldy fruit? Spread rancid butter on fresh baked bread? Of course not.  Likewise, you should aim to use the best spices and herbs possible, for reasons we will discuss below.

This is the second post in our Spices 101 series. In my first post, I debunked common spice myths and pointed out how proper selection and addition of good quality spices  to a dish can elevate the flavor of a dish with little effort and minimal cost. Next week we will talk about how proper storage is important for preserving your newly acquired quality spices, followed by how to grind whole spices and finally,  learn what spices to stock your pantry with.

For now, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly facts about buying spices. [Read more…]

Three Recipes to Keep in Your Pantry

Unpredictability is to be expected when you have a family. No matter how organized and steady YOU are, the rest of the family doesn’t always follow suit. As parents, we have to learn to be flexible and roll with the punches.

Mealtimes can be a harried affair when things don’t go as planned and the run to the grocery store has yet to transpire or you haven’t had even a moment to think about what your family is going to eat for dinner. Those are the days when you wish your fairy god-mother would pay you a visit and make a meal magically appear before you.

Fortunately you can have the next best thing. You can be your own fairy god-mother by stowing away recipes that will be there at a moments notice, to whip up in a jiffy and satisfy your hungry family. It’s as easy as picking a couple of recipes made from ingredients that you always have on hand.

Let’s look at a couple of ways you can find some pantry meals that are tailored to your family. That way you can make sure these items are always available for when those crazy days arrive. [Read more…]

Snacking and Your Child: Finding the Healthy Balance

In our home, our children, ages 2 and 4, are not big eaters and daily snacks play an important role in providing them with the nourishment they need. Like all young children, they have a limited stomach capacity and often their caloric requirements are not met with the standard three meals a day.

Smart snacking can help meet these nutritional needs. Unfortunately, if snacking happens too often it can prevent my children from developing an appetite. Similarly, if they are snacking on empty calories, then an opportunity to provide nourishment is wasted.

This is why balance and keen observation is so important for snack time.

I’ve learned it is important to control what is offered as snacks and well as when and how they are handed out. A consistent snack routine, as opposed to grazing or sporadic binging, is an important solution to resolving harmful food habits- both in children and adults! [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

Pizza dough, Pancakes, a Plastic Intervention and more after the jump…

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Spices 101: Common Myths Debunked (recipe: Chai-Spiced Granola)

An ‘Introduction to Spices’ would be an entire module in cooking school if I were the instructor. I think spices are that important to cooking.

Proper selection and addition of good quality spices to a dish can elevate the flavor of a dish with little effort and minimal cost; that alone is reason to learn how to use spices and incorporate them into daily cooking.

What is a spice? Any plant material that modifies the flavor of foods. A spice can be a root, bark, various seeds, dried fruits and plenty of fresh and dried herbs. All of these ingredients appeal to individuals in different ways and that is why the best spice is the one that makes your senses dance. [Read more…]