Having significant food restrictions to maintain my health hasn’t been any fun. I can’t eat most of my old comfort foods; eating at restaurants is a crap-shoot of undisclosed or forbidden ingredients. Breakfast at a restaurant when I can’t eat eggs or dairy, for example, leaves me with oatmeal and maybe some previously frozen fruit. Not really worth going out for. Nothing is as rich when there is no butter, cheese, sour cream, etc. everything seems blander. I end up eating the same set of safe foods frequently, and n boredom sets in. So, I’ve found a few ways to make life more interesting that I wanted to share with you. They’ve been game-changers for me.
I’m sensitive to cumin, but most other spices and seasonings are good. I visited a couple of specialty shops in town and Holy Moley! I discovered more flavorful versions of what I’d used before and seasoning blends that I never would have thought of. Sometimes I don’t have the time or energy to drive across the metro area, so I order through their internet shops.
Penzey’s carries a large variety of high-quality spices. Now that I’ve experienced the glory of GOOD cinnamon, I will never again buy it on the bulk aisle of my local grocery store. What a difference it makes! I’ve begun making my own vanilla, too, but that is a different story.
When I went to the Penzey’s across town, I discovered the nearby Savory Spice Shop (SavorySS). Where Penzey’s mainly focuses on ingredients and has just a few blends, SavorySS has a large selection of blends as well as ingredients. Everything I have purchased from these two stores has been terrific.
I found a recipe for Fresh Salsa Verde on SavorySS’ website that I swear changed our lives. Added to avocado toast, it took the dish from a desperation snack to a favorite lunch or after-work meal. The salsa verde goes on meats, vegetables, pasta – everything. When tomatillos go out of season, I start sweating it. I have put some of the salsa verde in the freezer to get us through the coming winter, because we can’t imagine life without it. It’s the Makrut Lime Sea Salt that makes this recipe so perfect.
I use different blends as an experiment in all my cooking now. I have a large stash, and I think about what I’m cooking, and then I open the nearest blend and sniff. Does it smell like it will enhance what I’m making? With this technique, I quickly figure out which blend is right for what’s cooking. (It sounds weird, but it works, so don’t judge me!)
Since I can’t eat pork or beef, I usually end up with ground chicken or turkey as a breakfast meat. Commercial poultry sausages and have been disappointing, to say the least. Using different spices, we’ve had some great chicken breakfast sausages. I take plain ground chicken or turkey and add light salt and then a spice blend with a heavy hand. Finally, a protein at breakfast worth eating.
I use these seasonings and blends on almost all my cooking. Now that cinnamon season has arrived, I’ve discovered that I can up the flavor by using fresh and more intense spices. So far, I’ve upgraded my cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice. As the others look old and less flavorful by comparison, they may also find themselves replaced. You don’t have to have a food sensitivity to enjoy full-flavored food; it’s an enjoyment that is available to everyone!