5 Flavor-Boosting Ingredients I Can’t Live Without

Last week in this newsletter, I wrote about being a healthy foodie and 7 tips to try to be one. Definitely check it out over here but today I’ll hone in one area—- and that is categories or classes of ingredients.

Flavor is key for a food to feel it’s worthy to a foodie, right? And if flavor-enhancers help healthy foods become vehicles, that’s even better. Think about plain broccoli. Yes we know it’s a health food on its own but to become one that a foodie would enjoy, we have to decorate it, douse it, toss it, brown it, pair it, or alter it in some way to make it interesting and also delicious. The following are some flavor-boosting ingredients I always keep on hand.

Five Flavor-Boosting Categories of Ingredients I Can’t Live Without

1. Herbs and Spices: Fresh and/or dried, these are a staple. Not only are they inexpensive, dried herbs and spices can last a long time, and often have potent antioxidant properties even in small amounts, depending on which one. I review this and the ORAC scoring in one of my earlier classes in the Food-As-Medicine Academy.  The value of a small amount of cinnamon, cocoa, marjoram, or oregano is VERY worthwhile to consider using daily. And consider things like a this new favorite: mustard seed powder—not using it alone but WITH cruciferous vegetables –which makes the phytonutrients in the crucifers even more powerful. 

2. Citrus: A little bit of acid goes a long way. Lemon and lime, but we can also remember to zest them! Different types of citrus make things interesting too. Remember the book and show by Samin Nosrat, Salt Acid Fat Heat! We all think of fat and salt, but acid is rarely appreciated. Got extra citrus? Use it as a daily refreshing bitter to mix into a sparkling water. See the bitter series on more ideas about that! My favorite citrus is just a regular lime. Nothing fancy 🙂

3. Good Fats: grass fed butter, coconut milk, avocados, fresh pressed olive oil, ghee, high quality nut oil like walnut oil or hazelnut oil and more!. All of these can be sourced as good quality fats, but they can be expensive.  In low doses good fats are:
1) vital to some culinary techniques
2) give a mouthfeel that we are all accustomed to having-like in radishes with salted butter YUM!  and 
3) offer properties that help other ingredients turn into magic (think of a beurre blanc, a Thai curry, or a classic vinaigrette).

This is my absolute favorite good quality fat and it is worth every penny.

4. Fermented Foods: Not only are these good for the gut, they add a dimension of flavor that most people are not accustomed to having regularly on their plate. Think of small amounts of sauerkraut (of all kinds of veggies) on a plate, kimchi, gochujang, and full meals that are fermented such as idli/dosa or a tempeh stir fry. This is my favorite, which I use as food-as-medicine on my plate.

5. Pickled/Briny Foods: Sometimes these can be fermented but usually not. What I love about this category of flavor enhancers is the salty umami flavor and how that accompanies so many foods so well. Think of a cheese plate WITHOUT olives or capers or pickled fennel. Blasphemy! My favorite right now are the large real caper berries, not the capers. One is plenty! What is your favorite?

I have more coming your way about my favorite flavor boosting foods, pantry-edition, next time!

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