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Big Dave's Big Secret — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 9, 2012 at 9:40 AMComments: 4 Faves: 0

Big Dave's Big Secret


Alright, it's time for me to come clean. This is about to be a very revealing blog post, and I'm not sure if all of my friends will accept it. It's a different lifestyle choice for sure, but this is something I feel I need to share with the world.

I have a fully-stocked spice cabinet.

Spices for Flavor

Even the most simple of dishes has the potential to be improved with a bit of spice. I really can't think of anything I've cooked at home that hasn't used a variety of spices at some point; from a loaf of bread with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper, to crockpot beer chicken with garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, and a host of other spices. Anything is fair game when flavor is on the line.

Spices for Adventure

A well-spiced dish with the right combination of flavors can take you on an adventure of flavorful wonder. Various flavor profiles from different cuisines around the world rely on the right spice mixes to give a distinct kick. With the right sorts of flavors in your dishes, the taste will take your mouth on a vacation:

Tex-Mex and Mexicali Cuisine

When you think of Mexico and the flavors you'd find there, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne come to mind. They're the signature flavors found in everything from the best Mexican-style meals to the simple taco seasoning packets at the store.

Kick in some fresh (or dried) cilantro and some lime or lemon juice (or lemon salt, if you like) and go surf instead of turf on your proteins, and you've got more of those coastal, California-meets-Mexico type flavors.

Indian Cuisine

Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder. Sound familiar, Tex-Mex? These spices can be adapted to Indian cuisine as well. Kick in some cinnamon, ginger, and curry powder for big Indian flavor. While not a spice, honey can also be a very flavorful addition to Indian-style dishes. Use with tomatoes, a bit of cream and chicken for a great carnivore meal, or go vegetarian like much of India and try this flavor combo with peas, potatoes, and chickpeas. Cilantro can add a nice touch at the end for extra fresh flavor and healthy greenage.

Italian Cuisine

What could be more pleasing than a delicious serving of Italian-style pasta, fish, or another favorite protein of yours? Use spices like oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder for that kick of bold flavor you find in spaghetti and pizza sauces. Dried works alright, but fresh is even better and can give you the same punch of flavor, plus a bit of added health bonus.

Spices for Health

Speaking of health, I'm always hearing about the health benefits of things like garlic, cayenne peppers and chili powder, and greens in general. Whether from grandma, a dietitian, a TV show, or even blogs on this network, it's all good advice to listen to:

Spices are often a bit pricier when you get the name-brands, but at bargain stores like Save-A-Lot, Big Lots, Aldi, and Dollar Tree, you can often get generous shakers of dried and powdered spices for $1 or less. Even store brands like Meijer carry fairly cheap spices, and bulk discount stores can be great for heavily-used spices you run through often.

Once you have the spice cabinet stocked and ready for action, it'll last you a very long time and help you get out of many flavorless situations. Give herbs and spices a try - even if it's as simple as a sprinkle of this and that in your mac 'n' cheese, or as complicated as your own personal garam masala.

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  • Good blog, Dave! I also have a stocked spice cabinet, but I am guilty of only using a few. I love garlic powder, black pepper and olive oil on a nice piece of meat that is about to be grilled. It brings out the flavor like crazy! But your blog has inspired me to try using the other spice I have, creating something new and exciting that will spice up my life.

  • Dave I have a confession as well. My spice cabinet is pretty well stocked too. My favorite? Saffron, there is no other spice like it in the world.

  • I LOVE using spices.

    My lunch today was tofu noodles with summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, spinach and a creamy, spicy curry sauce I made with a spoonful of sour cream and cream cheese for the base with TONS of curry, purred chipotle chilies, minced garlic, sriacha and liquid aminos (basically soy) for flavor.

    Would have been awesome with some of the fresh cilantro we have - wish I would have thought of that this morning! I use cilantro rather than lettuce leaves all the time in sandwiches, burritos and that sort of thing. I've just recently discovered the wonder of fresh chopped parsley in food - it's not just a garnish! It's got this great refreshing flavor!

    Garlic has to be my favorite spice, because it makes pretty much everything taste better, but basil is more special to me. Tastes like summer. :) B.T.M. (Basil, Tomato, Mozzarella) sandwiches have been my vegetarian replacement for the B.L.T.s I miss. I use balsamic reduction rather than mayo to keep the bread moist and add flavor. n.n

  • Wow! Now I want a basil, tomato, and mozzarella (fresh only) sandwich... on toasted ciabatta, with a little spiced olive oil and balsamic drizzled into the bread.

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