I was recently asked if I’m still “eating healthy”, and when I answered yes, the questioner replied “I couldn’t stand to eat bland food like that all the time”. I didn’t know how to answer. Why does the perception still exist that healthy=bland. Many years ago, when we knew much less about nutrition than we know today, the idea existed that healthy food was spice free, boiled and bland. We also thought that there were honest politicians. We now know neither of those things is true.
Anyone who has eaten my cooking knows my food is anything but bland. I have a rather extensive spice rack, and I am always looking for new spices to try. I also enjoy experimenting with different spice mixes. Using spices is a great way to make healthy eating exciting, without adding unnecessary calories or preservatives. Spices can make cooked vegetables palatable for those who usually turn their noses up to vegetables. Last night I marinated skirt steak with my own Chorizo mix (recipe below) and some olive oil for a few hours before grilling and it came out incredible. I added some sliced eggplant breaded with almond meal and spices, ( I’d give a recipe, but I usually just go with the flow and add spices wily nily) and then pan fried in coconut oil, finished with a big salad and my wife, daughter and I had a great tasting and healthy meal. This healthy meal was the polar opposite of bland, and didn’t take a long time to make.
The spice mix possibilities are endless. I scour the internet for ideas. Some of my favorites are Moroccan ras el hanout, Tunisian harissa, Indian masala mixes, or African berbere. These can all be made at home fairly easily, or purchased premixed. Either way, they will add a different dimension to your diet. They will help you replace quantity with quality. I usually start out making small batches from someone else’s recipe, and as I feel recipe’s are just guidelines, I will adjust the ingredients to my tastes. I’ve used “Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanfilippo to get ideas for some of my mixes. I keep a handful bagged and ready at all times.
Once you have some mixes you like, making a quick tasty meal is pretty easy. Some nights I will just take a container of chicken wings, pat them dry, mix them in a bowl of my “kitchen sink” spice mix (I just add lots of a variety of spices to a bowl and mix. I don’t measure, so don’t ask) , then bake for forty five minutes at 400 degrees (turning after 22 minutes). You can do the same with chicken thighs using the above procedure. Sometimes I’ll just pan fry a bunch of vegetables and then add a few pinches of one of my mixes to get a very tasty side dish. I like my mixes on the just above medium hot side, so you should adjust the hot spices accordingly.
So now you don’t have to cringe when your doctor (or your spouse) tells you that you have to start eating healthier. Healthy eating doesn’t need to be boring or bland. Don’t be afraid experiment with spice mixes to help you make your healthy cooking exiting and different.
Chorizo Spice Mix
2 TBS chipotle powder
1 TBS hot hungarian Paprika (or your favorite paprika)
1 TBS onion powder
1 TBS garlic powder
1/2 TBS sea salt
1/2 TBS coriander
1/2 TBS cumin
1 TSP black pepper