No matter what diet you follow, it’s imperative to season your food. Nobody just eats things as they are without a little extra flair and assistance from spices and seasonings. By this logic, all food has the potential to taste amazing, but people seem to think that seasonings are exclusive to meat-centric diets. We have good news: if you recently made the switch to a plant-based diet, you can enhance your food with powerful spices.
More often than not, the food in the Standard American Diet has excess calories, added flavors, processed ingredients, dairy products, and unhealthy fats. Now, some of those ingredients make their way into plant-based food options, specifically the varieties that come in packages. That means that vegetarians and vegans can be unhealthy if they eat the wrong foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables have unlimited potential to create complex flavors, but they need the assistance of herbs and spices to make that happen. They won’t simply dazzle you with inherent flavors on their own.
Of course, there are common seasonings that you know: sea salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, paprika, and oregano. In order to transform your plant-based meals from bland to fantastic, you need to give your spice cabinet or drawer a facelift. Use these spices in combination with each other, and the ones you already know about, and you won’t even recognize your plant-based meals!
If you’re going plant-based, make sure that you keep nutritional yeast in your kitchen at all times. Not only is it loaded with vitamin B12, but it also adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to all sorts of dishes, including sauces, dressings, dips, roasted vegetables, and more. It’s like the plant-based alternative to Parmesan cheese!
Do you like a little extra kick in your food? Don’t set your mouth aflame; rather, use this spicy seasoning sparingly. Cayenne pepper goes great in homemade soups, stir-fries, sauces, dips, and plant-based entrees. In addition to the adding a fiery flair to your food, cayenne pepper offers a long list of health benefits. Studies have shown that cayenne pepper helps to alleviate migraines, decrease inflammation and pain, improve metabolism, and expel mucus.
Cumin powder comes from the cumin seed. You can purchase either variety, but it’s easier and more time efficient to purchase the powder version. You have to toast and grind the seeds prior to seasoning your food if you purchase the seeds. Cumin is a classic spice in Mediterranean and Latin cuisines, but you can also use it in Middle Eastern dishes. It adds an earthy and fragrant taste to stews and soups, especially curries.
This vibrantly orange spice is a wonderful seasoning to accrue, no matter what diet you subscribe to. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for being a signature ingredient in curries. You can also use it as a hearty seasoning for roasted vegetables, especially root vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets. It has a mild, mustard-like flavor that can be slightly bitter, so mix it with cumin, sea salt, and black pepper for a more well-rounded flavor profile.
This herb has a very assertive flavor, so the number one rule is to use it sparingly. Tarragon has the ability to take over an entire dish, which means you don’t need more than a dash or a pinch. The herbaceous quality of tarragon, which also has an anise or licorice flavor, is great for savory dishes, especially ones with mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, artichokes, and leeks.
Common in Indian cuisine, cardamom is a warming spice that has a mildly sweet flavor. It goes great in dishes that contain rice, carrots, lentils, squash, and sweet potatoes. Additionally, it complements the strong flavors of cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and ginger. It’s also an essential ingredient in chai spice, making it excellent for tea.
In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of spices start with “C,” with four of them being on this list. That’s just mere coincidence. Fun fact: coriander seeds actually bloom into cilantro. When it comes to the seeds, though, grind them up into a fine powder and use them in Hispanic or Indian cuisine. The inherent pepperiness and earthy flavor lends coriander to savory dishes that utilize tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. Add it to soups sauces, chilis, and marinades!