So let’s talk some more about spices. My favorite spices are Mexican spices since that is not a flavor that I grew up with but after the age of 18 learned to love. If I have a choice of the food I always choose Mexican.
My favorite Mexican spices are:
1. Cumin: add cumin to our favorite plant based meatloaf recipe along with some mashed black beans and you have a wonderful warm dish that everyone in your family will love. Other ways to use cumin is to add to your favorite guacamole to give it a nice warm spicy flavor and also your favorite bean chiles or Tex Mex recipes. One of my favorite dishes is a Mexican style tofu has that includes cumin and other spices listed below and also corn tortillas. It is not your mothers hash!
2. Garlic Powder: everyone loves garlic, but garlic doesn’t love everyone back! Use garlic powder to add the flavor your love, without all the lingering effects. Quick and easy, you can use garlic powder anywhere you would use regular garlic. My favorite recipes for garlic powder are a for a homemade marinara sauce. I add a little garlic powder in the middle of the simmering stage and it rounds out the flavors. I also use garlic powder to make a quick garlic bread (no butter) and it adds a nice kick. I also use garlic powder on pop corn just for a little flavor. Add some nutritional yeast also and you have a wonderful pot of pop corn to enjoy.
3. Cinnamon: who doesn’t love cinnamon? There are so many different types of cinnamon that you can purchase. I remember as a child that my mom purchased the store brand and I did the same thing for years. I then happened upon a spice store and my world was opened up to cinnamon and the many different flavors. I use cinnamon in chiles to give it a nice warm flavor profile, in all types of cobblers and apple pies – who can resist or in my favorite – banana ice cream.
4. Mexican Oregano: oregano is generally classified in two categories: Mediterranean and Mexican. Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family has a more bitter, sweet, or peppery flavor profile. Mexican oregano is a relative of lemon verbena and native to Mexico. Although this it shares the basic pungent flavor of Mediterranean oregano, it also has undertones of citrus and mild licorice. I always think of Oregano as “a little goes a long way” so don’t over-spice with oregano. My favorite recipes are Mexican Pizza. You add the oregano to the bottom of the homemade crust with semolina flour and some salt and you have a wonderfully flavored crust. Then add marina sauce, roasted red peppers, roasted corn, cilantro and your other favorite ingredients to the top and bake. Yummm!
5. Onion Powder: an important ingredient in the cuisine of almost every culture, onions take many forms in the kitchen, from fresh to minced to powdered. If you want the flavor of onion but don’t have the time to chop fresh onions or you don’t want the taste to linger in your mouth, then onion powder is a great replacement. I use onion powder when I am in a hurry with the same dishes where I use garlic powder. I also use onion or garlic powder in guacamole to add that little extra kick that it needs sometimes, especially when the avocado’s are not as ripe as you want them to be.
6. Cilantro: I am not a fan of cilantro but I know that when I have salsa’s out in Mexican restaurants I am eating cilantro. Alot of Mexican dishes call for cilantro as an ingredient or a garnish, but if you are like me, you tend to leave it out unless cooking for friends and family members. When you are using cilantro in your dishes the leaves should be added to warm/hot foods right before serving because the heat diminishes their flavor.
7. Chili Powder: I love all type of chili powder – red chili, green chili, hot or mild, etc. Chili powder is a blend of chili peppers, cumin seeds, oregano, garlic, usually salt and sometimes cloves and allspice. I use chili powder in all of my favorite bean chiles, enchiladas and anything where I want the Mexican spice flavors.
8. Smoked Paprika: I love this spice. Paprika is familiar worldwide and is considered a kitchen essential. Smoked sweet paprika adds a smoky nuance to the standard flavor. This was not a spice that I grew up with but have come to love. I use this as a garnishment but when I want a smoked flavor profile then sweet smoked paprika is used. My favorite recipe is the Mexican Tofu Hash and I use alot of the sweet smoked paprika in this recipe.
9. Black Pepper: who doesn’t love black pepper especially when it is fresh from the pepper mill. Pepper comes in many colors, green, black, red and white but all comes from the same plant, the color is related to how ripe it is and how it has been processed. I could fill up this entire blog with where I use black pepper…..so what I recommend is add it to all of your Mexican dishes!
10. Cloves: I always thought of cloves as the dark and spiky spices that were on the outside of a ham with the pineapple rings, but I learned that I just had not experienced all cloves. Cloves though are “a little goes along way” so use sparingly at first and then add more as you taste your dishes. Cloves are aromatic, dried flower buds in brown color with a shape of nail. These flower buds are picked before they bloom into flower. I have used cloves sparingly in bean chiles, enchiladas and other dishes where I wanted a little bit of the taste or needed a slight punch.
I hope that you enjoyed this Spicing Up Your Plant Based Lifestyle Post and many more to come.
With Much Cooking Love,
Plant Based Kitchenista