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Flavor Boosters

Flavor Boosters

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Keep an assortment of condiments on hand to add quick, no-fuss flavor boosts to simple dishes. Here are some of our favorites.


One of the most popular condiments, this versatile blend isn’t relegated only to south-of-the-border dishes. Use it to spice up pasta dishes, or as the sauce for baked fish such as snapper or grouper or grilled meats including beef, chicken, and pork.

Use your favorite bottled salsa in one of these more than 200 main-dish recipes.

Five Non-Perishable Ingredients That Are Instant Flavor Boosters

Flavorful? Check. Non-perishable? Check. Delicious? Check.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be hard to find pantry staples like flour, eggs, sugar, chicken, and frozen vegetables. And even if you did manage to stock up, they may seem dull or uninspired after you&aposve been cooking all your meals at home for weeks (or is it months now?) with the same lineup of ingredients. Next time you go to the grocery store, consider buying these flavor-boosting staples that your local market likely still has in stock. They&aposre super flavorful, nutritious, and, most importantly, non-perishable.

Healthy Flavor Boosters for Your Recipes

When you begin eating healthier and start to make healthier choices you will quickly notice your palate changing. You will begin to crave healthier food choices and cravings for unhealthy foods will eventually diminish.

When starting a heathy food regimen, it’s important to be cognizant of empty calories and salt found in sauces, spices and condiments. Finding new ways to season your favorite dishes that won’t add unnecessary calories or eliminate taste is easy. Nutritious meals don’t have to be bland and flavorless! Here are some delicious ways to spice up your favorite recipes.


This spice is potent, fragrant and flavorful. Smoked paprika is great for enhancing the flavor of meats with a smoky finish. Add to chili, beans, soups, stews and more for a delicious flavor. Combine with other spices such as chili powder and garlic to create a savory rub for chicken or beef.


Fill your spice rack with salt-free spice blends and use them to enhance the flavor of your favorite dishes without ramping up sodium levels. We recommend the wide variety of Mrs. Dash salt-free spice blends. These healthy, affordable, sodium-free spices are perfect flavor companions for poultry, meat, fish, vegetables and much more!


Mustards of all varieties make delicious flavor enhancers without tacking on the calories. Enjoy spicy brown mustard, Dijon mustard or create your own flavor with mustard seeds and vinegar! Stray from any mustard blends with the word “honey” in the name, because chances are they are packed with sugar–remember to always check the labels!


Garlic in all forms is a mouthwatering add-on for many recipes. Have minced garlic on hand to season vegetables. Roast whole cloves to add a sweetened flavor to poultry, meat and fish dishes. Add salt-free garlic powder to your favorite soups, sides and entrees.


Add a few lemons, limes and oranges to your cart when you go to the grocery store and get in the habit of using the juices for delicious sauces or as an extra tangy zing to your favorite recipes. Use lemon on baked fish and add lime juice to your favorite dishes to dress up the flavor. You can also add lemon and lime to your water for enhanced weight-loss results!


Use extracts such as vanilla, almond, mint, chocolate, coconut and more in your favorite baking dishes for added flavor. You can also add extracts to your smoothies, shakes, yogurt, oatmeal and more to enhance the taste!


Vinegars add flavor and taste without sabotaging the health of your meal. They contribute a light acidity and tanginess to your recipes. Use them to glaze meats, make dressings or as low-calorie sauces and condiments!


Sprinkle your favorite meals with fresh herbs to elevate the taste to a truly gourmet feel. Whether you decide to grow your own herb garden or purchase them from your local grocery store keeping fresh herbs around at all times will allow you to always be able to add delicious flavor and healthy nutrients to your entrees.


Thermo-Snacks® are a useful base for many sauces and gravies. Thermo-Snacks are also available in delicious sides as well as dessert options. Incorporate two Thermo-Snacks a day into your food plan and purchase the STEP in the Kitchen cookbook for tasty recipe ideas.

Don’t be afraid to add a little spice to your food. When in doubt, herbs and spices are the keys to healthy and delicious meals you will love!

We all have a list of the places we most want to go when travel can safely resume, whether it is a return to a favorite place we have been often or a totally new place to discover. Find some recipes online or in cookbooks that reflect the flavors of that place. If you are thinking about a place with a culinary tradition very different from yours, consider finding a local restaurant that serves that food and ordering in to experience those flavors to help with your own experimentations.

These storage spaces and appliances have been doing major duty this past year. After a year of loading in pandemic supplies, we are now hitting the expiration and best by dates on the things we bought last March. Doing a purge and reorganization of those spaces will ensure that we are cooking and eating the things that we need to before they are past their prime and will also serve for some dinner inspiration. Even if it is just heating up your stash of frozen casseroles, soups, or stews making a strata from some of those frozen loaves of sourdough or being sure to eat the frozen vegetables you dutifully stashed from last summer before they return to the markets, chances are you&aposll get some changeup in your routine, and some room in your storage.

12 Umami Boosting Secrets to Making Vegan and Vegetarian Fare Tasty

When you taste something with complex layers of flavor that fill the mouth and satisfy the soul, it’s likely you’re tasting umami. Umami is famously present in many animal products including cheeses, aged meats like salami, salted fish like anchovies, and fresh meats and seafood that have been caramelized at high temperatures. Luckily for vegetarians and vegans, umami exists in any food that contains the amino acid L-glutamate, including many plant-based foods.

Great vegan and vegetarian cooks know how to use umami-containing or umami-friendly ingredients to their best advantage to unlock the flavor in their dishes. Read on to learn their secrets.

Soy Sauce or Tamari—Fermentation is one way to develop umami in food. Soy sauce and tamari, both made from fermented soy beans, are rich in umami and salt. A tiny dash in salad dressings, drizzled into soups or veggie stews, or onto plain steamed vegetables can intensify the flavors of the other ingredients.

Bragg’s—Bragg’s Amino Acids is another fermented soybean product. Popular in raw food preparation, Bragg’s contains 16 of the 20 amino acids needed for balanced health. Use it as you would soy sauce or tamari.

Ume Plum Vinegar—A Japanese condiment that is derived from traditional Japanese pickled plums, this vinegar is salty, and a little bit sweet, with lovely floral characteristics. When you taste a dish and think that it just “needs something,” this might be the something it needs. Much more complex than Bragg’s or soy sauce, it can be used in the same ways suggested above. Don’t be afraid to tweak a Western vegetable soup with this Eastern condiment. It works.

Nutritional Yeast—Available in health food stores -and hip, independent theaters that sell popcorn- nutritional yeast is beloved by vegans for its nutty, cheesy flavor. Sprinkle it on popcorn, add to mashed or baked potatoes, or stir it into vegan casseroles.

Toasted Nuts and Seeds—Toasting seeds and nuts really brings out their flavor, and truly makes a difference in the umami quotient of your cooking. Grain salads, pilafs, and green salads can all benefit from the savory addition of toasted pumpkin or sesame seeds, or nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and peanuts.

Dried Mushrooms—Mushrooms are treasure troves of naturally occurring umami. Drying them simply concentrates what’s already there. Reconstitute some dried shiitakes and add them to a winter squash stew or a brothy Asian noodle soup. Dried porcinis make swoony risotto and will help your barley soup sing.

Miso—Adding a spoonful of this fermented soybean product is a great way to add depth to vegetarian soups. Simply stir it in at the end of cooking, when you’re adjusting the seasoning. When combined with lemon juice, garlic, and herbs and spices, it makes a great marinade for grilled or roasted vegetables. These same ingredients can also double as a salad dressing.

Nori—why is sushi so crave-worthy? Partially because of the toasty, unique flavor of the nori that it’s wrapped in. You can buy nori in sheets and use scissors to snip it over vegetarian soups, stews and salads, or purchase it in flake form in the versatile Japanese condiment furikake, which is used to season plain rice. When buying furikake, read the ingredients, as some versions contain bonito or other fish.

Tomato Paste or Dried Tomatoes—Like mushrooms, ripe tomatoes contain a naturally occurring form of umami. When dried or concentrated into a paste, the umami characteristics are amplified. Add dried tomatoes or tomato paste to beans, marinades, or vegetable stews for a more complex flavor.

Caraway Seeds—Though spices don’t technically contain umami, they can bring out the umami in certain foods. Caraway seeds add a light smokiness and have a particular affinity for cabbage and potatoes. Add them to potato salads, coleslaws, and breads or rolls.

Cumin—Toasted cumin seeds can make almost any bean or lentil dish better. They have an intense savoriness of their own that adds a meaty character to foods into which they are incorporated.

Smoked Paprika—Adding smoked paprika to a bean dish or split pea soup is a great way to make as if you’ve used bacon. Need I say more? Even if you’re not into pretend meat, you might like to stir a little smoky paprika into potato salad, your favorite vinaigrette, hummus, baba ganoush, or a marinade for grilled vegetables.

Before you go.

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5. Gremolata (Paleo, Whole30, vegan)

Gremawhatnow? If you haven&rsquot heard of this Italian garnish, you&rsquore in for a quick and easy treat. Gremolata usually consists of minced citrus zest, garlic and herbs mixed together.

In a bowl, mix the zest of one orange or lemon, one minced garlic clove and roughly 1-2 tablespoons minced parsley, Once your food is done cooking, whether still in the pan or on plates, you simply strew the gremolata on top. That&rsquos it.

The heat releases the flavors so you&rsquore hit with all the wonderful citrusy, garlicky, herby aromas. Plus it adds freshness and zip to all sorts of dishes: any kind of cooked protein, veggies, soups, stews, etc. Try it with basil, mint or any other favorite fresh herb (do NOT substitute dried) and/or any other citrus. Use immediately.

This is not meant to be made ahead of time.

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You can use wine to deglaze after sauteeing meat to create a nice pan sauce. "Also, even just enjoying your meal with a glass of wine helps distribute the food flavors in the mouth," Mills says.

Pro tip: Here's a step-by-step guide to making a red wine reduction pan sauce.

Health bonus: If you use it in your recipes, much of the alcohol will cook off. But studies have linked a nightly glass of wine to a reduced risk for heart disease. (If you're not a drinker, this would be no reason to start, but one glass for women and up to two for men would be within healthy reason, Mills adds.)

If you've run out of healthy snacks and the only option is the gas station convenience store, the best snacks might be the packaged ones. Prepared cold foods need to be kept at 41°F or colder and hot foods need to be between 135 to 140°F but if the options look dubious, go for packaged nuts and seeds to tide you over till your next meal.

Traveling can increase your exposure to a variety of bacteria and germs. Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes on hand for any unexpected, sticky situations.

More Fast Flavors From Your Grocery Store

8. Bottled barbecue sauce. Add flavor to your ground beef when making burgers jazz up your chicken sandwich or make a quick barbecue pork or beef sandwich by mixing the shredded meat with some barbecue sauce. Two tablespoons of your basic barbecue sauce adds around 60 calories, 0 grams fat, and 240 mg sodium.
9. Fancy mustard. A little mustard adds fast flavor to your tuna or chicken salad, meatloaf, sandwiches, and baked chicken or pork. French's honey dijon has 10 calories, 0 grams fat, and 40 mg sodium per teaspoon, while a teaspoon of Spicy Brown Mustard adds 5 calories, 0 grams fat, and 50 mg sodium.
10. Flavored, marinated tuna. It's a bit pricy, but you can buy already flavored tuna in varieties such as zesty lemon pepper, hickory smoked, and sweet and spicy. A 2-ounce serving has 70 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 250 mg sodium.
11. Cream-style horseradish. Use this high-flavor jarred condiment in sandwiches, meats, sauces, and more. One teaspoon only adds 10 calories, 0.5 grams fat, and around 20 mg sodium.
12. Bottled Asian sauces. These add flavor to stir-fry and meat dishes and can also be used as a quick dipping sauce for appetizers. Several types are available, but the two that will probably be most useful are spicy kung pao sauce and hoisin sauce. Two tablespoons contribute around 45 calories, 1 gram fat, and 450 mg sodium.
13. Balsamic vinegar. This is a VERY flavorful vinegar, and it stands alone better than most other types. You can use it in recipes without having to balance the acid taste with oil. Add balsamic to salads, sauces, marinades, dips, etc. I like to drizzle some over fresh mozzarella layered with tomato slices and fresh basil (served on bread).
14. Molly McButter butter sprinkles. Usually found in the spice section, these come in two flavors -- regular and cheese -- to use on veggies, potatoes, and other dishes. One teaspoon of the regular has 5 calories and 180 mg sodium cheese contains 5 calories and 125 mg sodium. Butter Buds is another brand of butter sprinkles.
15. Bottled minced garlic and ginger. Garlic is one of my favorite fast flavors, probably because I cook Italian-style dishes a lot. It's fast because I use minced garlic from the bottle. Just spoon out a teaspoon or two and off you go no presses, no garlic skin, no smelly fingers. Minced ginger in jars makes cooking Asian dishes easy too.
16. Creole and Cajun seasoning. These seasonings add a lot of taste, but they can add a lot of salt, too, so be sure to check the labels. One-fourth of a teaspoon can contain as much as 310 milligrams of sodium.
17. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter sprays. These are found in the margarine section and come in original and garlic and herb flavors. If you use it as a topping, it adds 0 grams of fat and 15 mg sodium. Some people use it to flavor vegetables and potatoes. While we're on the subject of flavor sprays, a new line of these is being sold on the Flavor Spray Diet web site (and possibly other locations). You won't believe the flavors they carry: Parmesan cheese, smoked bacon, cookies and cream, birthday cake, and many more. The company says the sprays have 0 calories and 0 grams of fat. Each 2-ounce bottle costs around $6. My guess is that either you are a "flavor spray" type of person or you're not. If you are, you might want to check these out.


"Food just tastes different during chemotherapy, not like it used to." Sound familiar? Due to chemotherapy or radiation and the effect these treatments have on the way food tastes, finding ways to enjoy your food can be a real challenge.

What works for one person may not work for another some patients find that eating bland or plain foods is best, and some find they tolerate highly seasoned or spicy foods and even crave them. Try a few of these ideas to boost the flavor of your foods.

1. Add grated lemon, lime or orange, or the juice from these fruits, to cookies, cakes, chicken and fish.

2. Marinate chicken breasts or turkey breast slices in soy sauce, teriyaki sauce or sauté sauce (such as Dijon chicken sauté sauce) for 30 minutes before cooking.

3. Add pesto or salsa to pasta, fish and main dishes.

4. Use fresh herbs when cooking chicken and fish.

5. Use small amounts of foods that pack a lot of flavor: Kalamata olives, anchovies, capers, roasted garlic, blue cheese, feta cheese, Dijon mustard, toasted walnuts, crushed red pepper.

6. Use garlic to boost the flavor of meats, side dishes, pilafs, salads and soups.

7. Cook rice in broth or apple juice instead of water.

8. Sprinkle toasted nuts over fish, salads and main and side dishes.

9. Caramelize meat by sprinkling brown sugar, drizzling with orange juice or molasses and cooking until the mixture thickens and coats the meat.

10. Experiment with balsamic, raspberry, tarragon, white wine and seasoned rice vinegars to add zing to cooked vegetables, pasta, soups, salads and cooked meats.

11. Use curry powder and coriander in chicken salads and casseroles and to add a jolt of exotic flavor to soups and stews.

From "Betty Crocker's Living with Cancer Cookbook." Text Copyright 2005 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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