Italian Inspiration – Seasonings Made Simple
NOTE: This post is one of a four part series. Search for “seasonings” and all posts in the series will show up as they become available. The complete guide featuring 4 cuisines (Italian, Mexican, Asian, & Indian) is available for instant download on the products page.
Seasonings Made Simple is quick, handy guide to help give your meals an ethnic flair. Some of the healthiest eating habits in the world are found in the cuisines included in the guide.
Herbs (the dried leaves) and spices (the ground seeds) play an important role in healthy eating. Fresh herbs such as parsley & cilantro are good sources if chlorophyl which aids digestion. Spices like turmeric are known for anti-inflamitory benefits, and anything spicy (garlic, chilies, ginger) will speed up your metabolisim.
Vegetables are the king of foods and combine well with both protiens and grains. They are among the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Beans of all types provide a good source of lean, cholestoral free protien and are easily digestible.
The guide is organized into categories:
Oils: describes typical cooking medium best suited for flavor & typical cooking temperatures.
Sour: this important flavor (often missing in American cuisine) helps stimulate digestion & provide balance to a meal so your body gets the signal that it has been nourished. Add the sour component towards the end of cooking or just before serving to keep it bright & fresh.
Savory: Also known as spicy, boosts metabolisim and keeps things lively!
Herbs & Spices: These are the basics for each cuisine listed. Experiment with them. Generally spices are best added early in cooking & herbs toward the middle to keep their delicate flavor.
Extras: Who doesn’t love extras? Toss these goodies in to add sparkle!
Dairy: Used in moderation, dairy provides richness to your meals.
Nuts: Like extras, nuts add sparkle. They also boost the nutritional value of vegetable dishes by adding a source of protien.
Vegetables: These are classics found in listed cuisines. They will round out a meal and provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Grains: While rice is universal, quinoa (a high protein grain that is a staple of south american cultures) and buckwheat offer a great change of pace and will make your meal really stand out!
So cut up some fresh Vegetables & cook them in an Oil with a Savory element. Season them with Herbs & Spices along with some Nuts or Extras. Serve beside a lean protien such as fish or chicken or over a pile of Grains and presto, Healthy Meals Made Easily! More examples can be found at the end of this guide.
OILS: Olive Oil Butter
SOUR: Lemon Juice Balsamic Vinegar Red Wine Vinegar
SAVORY: Garlic Crushed Red Pepper Paprika
HERBS & SPICES: Basil Parsley Rosemary Marjoram Oregano
EXTRAS: Calamata Olives Sun Dried Tomato Capers White Wine
DAIRY: Romano Mozzarella Ricotta Provolone
NUTS: Pine Nuts
VEGETABLES: Zucchini Eggplant Red Pepper Cauliflower Tomato Carrot Peas Crimini-Mushrooms New red potatoes Romaine Lettuce Spinach Kale Canellinni Beans Kidney Beans Lentils
GRAINS: Pasta; thicker shapes for heavy sauces, thinner shapes for light sauces Arborio Rice (risotto) Polenta
Here are a few general examples to get you started. Remember, Cooking is 1 part recipe and 5 parts inspiration. Let your own spirit shine through.
~Steam Broccoli Rabe (or Blanch in slated water) and then sautee in Olive Oil with a bit of Garlic & Crushed Red Pepper. Top with Pine Nuts. This works great for Kale, Escarole, and Spinach too.
~Sautee Zuchinni in Olive Oil with Garlic. Stir in some Sun-Dried Tomatoes. Serve over cooked pasta such as Rigatoni and top with a dollop of Ricotta cheese seasoned with salt & pepper.
~Sautee Chopped Kale & Crimini Mushrooms in Garlic and Olive Oil until wilted. Season with Crushed Red Pepper and a spalsh of Cider Vinegar. Mix in Cannelinni Beans (rinsed & drained) and heat through. Works good as a soup. Just add Chicken Broth. I prefer Pacific Foods Organic.
The Mediterranean style of eating is world renowned as one of the 5 healthiest on the planet. Focus on lots of fresh vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts. You’ll find some great menu plans over on the products page to help you easily put together a Mediterranian feast!