Tired of the same-old dinners? With just a few affordable ingredients from your neighborhood supermarket, you can turn any meal into a culinary adventure!
Not this again! It's a familiar yet dreaded lament at the dinner table. No one wants to waste food or time, which are both precious commodities. Let us help you make over your meals with everyday ingredients that can lend an exotic flare.
Trying new cuisines from around the world doesn't have to be complicated. After all, while these dishes might be new to you, it's the food that people in other countries eat every day, so it can't be time consuming or expensive.
Today we're sharing five not-so-exotic types of ingredients that can help turn even your usual fare into something different and delicious.
Herbs are one of the fastest ways to transform a dish. Fresh herbs seem like a luxury item, but they're affordable and versatile. Buy a bunch each week, store in a glass filled with water on the counter, and wash and chop a handful or two at mealtime. Three to keep on hand are cilantro, basil, and parsley. Basil's sweet taste is perfect in Italian and Thai dishes. Parsley adds a fresh finish to any meal. Cilantro's fresh, citrusy flavor brightens up any meal, so sprinkle it on Mexican, Thai and Indian dishes. (Watch this video to see one of our favorite ways to use it!)
Spices are herbs' BFF. While herbs are the flavorful leaves of plants, herbs are seeds, roots, bark or fruits of a plant. Like herbs, they add flavor and intensity without calories or fat. Curry powder is one of our favorites--and we believe it's underappreciated. (Try this Basmati Chicken Rice Pilaf, which uses a mild curry powder.) Not all curries are the same, as they are a blend of spices, including turmeric, cumin and coriander, which is the seed that grows into cilantro. Experiment with different varieties, and shop the bulk bins at your supermarket so you only have to buy a bit at a time.
Salty condiments: Salt adds flavor, but unfortunately sodium is something we should limit in a healthy diet. Rather than shaking on table salt, we prefer to choose salty condiments that do double duty and add depth or richness in addition to saltiness. Miso paste and soy sauce are two of our favorites. Add a spoonful of miso just before serving or a dash of soy sauce any meal for Asian flare and an extra layer of flavor. (This Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry with Jasmine Rice is an easy, flavorful meal.)
Flavorful fats: Just as table salt is a one-hit wonder, so are most oils and fats. Fats add richness to a dish, but they are a dense, caloric food, so make every calorie count. To add Thai or Indian flare to any meal, stir in a spoonful of full-fat coconut milk. Not only will your dish have a tropical undertone, but it will also have incredible creaminess.
Acids: In food and in life, contrast makes things more interesting. A splash of vinegar livens up your salad. A squeeze of lime juice makes fish taste fresher. A wedge of orange highlights the spiciness of cinnamon. Citrus is a widely available (and cheap) way to add tang and contrast to any dish. In sweet or heavy dishes, use the juice and the zest to lighten things up and cut through the richness. (This
Cinnamon-Orange Basmati Rice Pudding use both orange juice and zest.)
Rice: Beyond brown and white, there's a whole world of varieties on the supermarket shelves these days. To make your dinner a little more exciting, reach for jasmine or basmati rice. Basmati rice is a long-grain, fine-textured, aromatic rice that comes in brown and white varieties. A staple in Indian cuisine, it's perfect in savory or sweet dishes. Jasmine rice has a tender, sticky texture with a distinct aroma. It cooks quickly and is the perfect addition to your dinner table.
Get creative with ingredients you know and love already, and you'll soon feel like a world traveler in the kitchen--while still sticking to your healthy eating plan.
These recipes were provided by our sponsor, UNCLE BEN’S®.
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