The Cook’s Secret

As many of you are aware, the real “secret” behind tasty, nutritious, whole food-based dishes is in the seasoning. It’s the seasoning that often makes or breaks the finished product. When I speak of “seasonings” I am not only referring to whatever seasonings are in a recipe and their impact, but other aspects of seasoning use that include quality of herbs and spices, storage practices of these seasonings, and the way they are blended to complement a dish.

Quality – this is affected by how many middlemen your herb/spice passes through on its way to your cupboard, how long it is from harvest to sale, what the original level of aromatic essences and essential oils were in the herb/spice and its intrinsic qualities.

Storage – Whole spices and leaves may be stored for up to two years, if they were high quality to start with. Ground and powdered herbs and spices should be replaced every year. DO NOT store them near any heat source as they degrade quite rapidly if you do.  They are best if kept cool, in the dark, and in glass containers.

Blends – some blends are just better than others. A blend you are probably familiar with is Italian Seasoning. Another is chili powder or curry. Quality, storage factors and the choice of herbs to include in a blend can vary greatly and often are the subtleties most difficult to reproduce. There are two blends that I use a great deal in my cooking that I put together myself and find to be very tasty as well as practical. I will share those recipes here. In a later post, I will be providing more resources and information on finding sources for the best quality herbs and spices.

Seasoned Eatings and Chick-it are names I borrowed from my friend, Vicki Griffin, who uses them in her cookbook, Guilt-free Gourmet. This is an awesome cookbook, by the way. The recipes below have different proportions than hers and are the way I have developed them. These seasonings have no gastric irritants, excitotoxins, MSG, or sugar and so you can use them with a clear conscience! If you are salt restricted, use them sparingly or cut the salt in half and replace half of it with more nutritional yeast for a richer seasoning that is less salty.

Seasoned Eatings – all purpose vegetable seasoned salt

Place in blender:

  • 1 c. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 3/4 c. Sea salt ( I like Himalayan Pink, personally)
  • 3/4 tsp. Dry Oregano leaves (turkish)
  • 3/4 tsp. Garlic powder or granulated
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Onion powder
  • 6 T. Dry parsley
  • 3/4 tsp. Dry Basil
  • 3/8 tsp. Dry Dill Weed
  • 3/4 tsp. Dry Sage

Blend thoroughly till mix has a powder-like consistency. This keeps the herbs from separating in the mix. Store in a glass jar with a tight seal. This is the perfect seasoning for sprinkling on salads, add a bit of lemon juice and/or olive oil if you would like. It’s great on popcorn, mashed avocado, or mixed with soy sour cream for a wonderful vegetable dip. I literally use it in almost anything! This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of seasoning.

Chick-It – a vegetarian chicken-style seasoning

  • 1 1/2 c. Nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 c. Sea salt ( I like Himalayan Pink)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Turmeric
  • 1 T. Garlic powder
  • 3 T. Onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sage
  • 3 T. Parsley, dried

Blend thoroughly to a powder-like consistency. Store in a sealed glass jar. Makes about 1 3/4 c. of seasoning.

Use the chicken-style seasoning in anything you would normally want that flavor in. As a soup base, broth, in stir-fry, gravy, or on broiled tofu, it’s wonderful! I’ve used quite a variety of chicken-style seasoning mixes and this is my all-time favorite!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “The Cook’s Secret

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