306-715-5396 caitliniles@live.com

Hi friend! I hope you’ve been having a wonderful early spring! Here in Saskatoon we’ve been blessed with some unseasonably warm weather, which means most of our snow is already gone and I just purchased the first pair of rainboots I’ve owned since I was just a wee, curly haired lass. It has made my walk to the yoga studio less of an intrepid adventure as I no longer have to avoid mud and puddles but can splash through them with wild abandon.

Anyhoo, I’ve recently been working with some clients who are interested in expanding their culinary horizons and while I’m slowly working on a sweet herb and spice companion I thought I would share a few tried and true tips to help you become more adventurous in the kitchen. Ch-ch-check it out!

1. Reinvent Old Standby Ingredients

You can start expanding your culinary horizons by using standby ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, in new and exciting ways. Look up new recipes and make a commitment to try one new one per week. For example, I have a few recipes for sweet potatoes right here on Nourished!

2. Buy One New Whole Food Item per Week

This tip is rather self-explanatory. Every time you go to the market, food co-op, or health food store pick up something you’ve never tried before.

I did this just the other week with kelp noodles because I broke the cardinal rule of grocery shopping and went to the store ravenously hungry. I ended up picking up these random kelp noodles, which I had seen around before but never actually experimented with myself.

Not one to let an impulse buy go to waste, I came home threw them in a pot with some homemade bone broth, spices, sea salt, and green onion and BAM! I just made the closest thing to Mr. Noodles I’d tasted in many a long year. Plus I got some sweet iodine and that awesome noodley texture.

With spring and summer almost upon us, the farmer’s markets will soon be overflowing with produce, herbs, and spices you’ve likely never seen before. Pick out a new one every week, look up some preparation techniques on the interwebs, and get playing! Don’t be afraid to get messy and make mistakes. That’s what cooking (and life! Pardon my cheese…) is all about.

3. Buy One New Spice or Spice Blend per Week

Experimenting with spices is one of the fastest ways to grow your culinary repertoire. You can pick up some great organic spice blends at most health food stores, which can make reinventing old standbys a breeze. Or you can get really creative and try making your own blends. Some herbs and spices that go great together include:

Cinnamon, cocoa, thyme, and chili powder

o   Bonus: add cayenne or smoked paprika for extra zing.

o   Use With: Hearty meat/bean and veggie stews, dry rubs, chili, as hummus or red pepper dip flavouring

Rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and sage

  Use With: poultry, potatoes, roasted veggies.

Curry powder, cinnamon, star anise, coriander seed, clove, nutmeg, garlic, and onion

Bonus: Try dry toasting for a smokier flavour or heating in oil for extra richness.

o   Use With: meat/lentil and veggie curries, broths, veggie stir-fries, roasted veggies. Top with fresh cilantro and green onion

Green onion, cilantro (if it doesn’t taste like soap to you) garlic, lime, ginger, tamari, chili.

o   Bonus: Add toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds for extra awesomeness!

  Use With: ceviche, salad dressings, stir fries, soups.

Dill, cucumber, onion powder, garlic powder, yogurt/kefir

o   Use As: a dip, a dressing, or a spread.

Remember to add sea salt and pepper to all these mixtures to really make your flavours pop!! And a little lemon juice and/or ACV and a touch of maple syrup or honey can bring your soups and stews to life when added at the very end of the cooking process.

Well there you have it friend. Three quick and easy tips to get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen. What other suggestions would you make for those wanting to expand their culinary horizons? Let me know in the comments! Have a wonderfully, whimsical week!

Cait xo

3 simple ways to get creative in the kitchen