First off, I think it goes without saying, but this blog will NOT include salt and pepper in this spice list.  Those two are universal and used for nearly all my recipes.  To note though, I use pink Himalayan salt, not table salt in my cooking.  There is a difference, especially where your health is concerned.

I mentioned in my personal story, I was the youngest of 7 kids in my family.  By the time I was born, mom was already 40 yrs. old.  She had been cooking food for the family for many years.  Because there were so many mouths to feed, especially with 5 boys, the meals she created were in LARGE quantities!  So, when I came along, and as I aged, my oldest brothers were on the verge of moving out and mom began to cook less and less.  There were less mouths to feed.  Because of this, I felt like I didn’t get to learn the basic cooking techniques from mom, like my brothers did.

After I got married, I had a lot to learn about cooking.  Spices were a mystery to me too.  I was clueless on how to use them… and still learning.  Yet, I took a few basic cooking classes and did a lot of my own research.  I also tried recipes to just have some fun with cooking.  If it failed, it failed.  Oh well!  I tried, right?  I’m lucky to have a husband that eats it anyway. He’s my best support! ♥

Now my life is consisting of two growing boys, with almost-daily sports activities and a very “on-the-go” lifestyle, so I have to improvise and get creative when I cook.  I also have to cook quickly too.  I have had to create my default ingredients so that I will always have them on hand.  To give my food a flavorful punch, I have come up with my go-to spices, and how I use them.

  1. Garlic Salt

This is one that can be used in so many ways. I love the taste of garlic, and don’t care if I get stinky breath.  (LOL!)  One the rare occasions we have pasta for dinner, the boys can make garlic toast using this salt. Plus, I use it for grilled “cheese” sandwiches or quesadillas on the outside of the bread or tortilla for extra flavor.  Lastly, when I make eggs or potatoes, this is a great spice to add for punch!  This is a go-to and something that is quick and easy.  When I don’t have time to chop garlic or it makes more sense to use the powder/salt instead, I keep it handy! The best thing, I buy it in bulk (usually at the local co-op), so I just refill my glass spice jar and save money by doing so. Do you ever make your own popcorn?  Try coconut oil and garlic salt.  Yum!

  1. Onion Powder

Like garlic, this is a flavor punch!  Having it in a powder form can make it so much faster when making dinner. Other times I have realized that I have used up all of my fresh onions, but don’t have time to run to the store.  Onion powder to save the day!!   I use it in making bone broth, veggie “ranch” dip, and scrambled eggs, egg bake and so much more.  If you have any picky eaters who are not a fan of onions (usually because of the texture), than the powder also comes in handy to give flavor, without the texture concerns.  Sometimes I pre-cook chicken (in a crockpot to save time) and store it in the fridge, especially knowing that we will have to eat quickly during the week.  The chicken will be used in wraps, sandwiches or salads all week.  Onion powder is used in the seasoning every time.

What’s also cool, is how nutritious onions are!  Did you know that they are one of the oldest cultivated crops and contain 20% of your daily value of vitamin C?   (Say what!!?)  The health studies out there are so interesting on how powerful onions truly are.  Read this article on the 8 top health benefits to learn more.  It’s a great article!  If you have a common health issue, you may find that onions have a benefit of being in your diet.

  1. Parsley flakes

I love fresh parsley.  I even grow it in my garden every summer.  I pot the unused plants and try to keep it inside during the winter as well.  Yet, I don’t always have fresh parsley on hand, so dried comes in handy too!  It stores wonderfully and adds a fresh herb taste to many of our favorite meals.  Like the onion powder, I add it to scrambled eggs, veggie dip and to chicken bone broth.

The other cool thing… it’s loaded with health benefits!  Ever wonder why it’s served on the side of a plate at a restaurant?  It has wonderful benefits for your digestion and bad breath.  So next time, eat that sprig of parsley!  Check out this article on the list of benefits.

  1. Chili Powder

All my boys (including my husband) love Mexican style foods.  If they could, they’d eat tacos and enchiladas daily, I swear!  Chili powder gives the food a kick without being super spicy.  I use it in making chili, shredded crockpot meat, on diced baked sweet potatoes, a veggie breakfast hash and even used to season steaks on occasion.

  1. Cumin

One recipe my mom did pass down to me was for her iconic chili.  It was one of our most loved dishes of hers.  It was thick, slightly spicy and VERY filling.  It is loaded with kidney beans, ground beef and tomato sauces that are spiced up with seasoning!  When I started making the recipe, I didn’t realize just how impactful cumin was to a recipe like chili.  It brought the recipe to a whole new level!  She even had handwritten notes on her recipe that she wrote “use a lot!” next to where cumin was listed. LOL!  I realized that it was what made chili so good!

I also use it in my Chicken, Rice and Black Bean soup recipe.  For me, I add it to all my Mexican-flavored recipes. It’s a spice that is “besties” with my chili powder.  They are a great combo!

  1. Cilantro

For me, there is something refreshing and cleansing about cilantro. I don’t know what it is, but I love it. I often use it fresh, but also add it as a dried seasoning to taco and enchiladas.  (Check out this zucchini enchilada recipe I found – so simple and yummy.  One thing I had to learn as I explored cilantro is that it doesn’t have to only be for Mexican dishes.  I now top my eggs and salads with it.  I also put it in my brown rice too.

One cool thing that I learned about cilantro is its powerful healing properties.  When I got my amalgam fillings replaced, I ate extra cilantro to help my body rid itself of any remaining heavy metals.  Check out this article about how cilantro can be used in this way.  You will even see that there have been animal studies showing it helps lower blood sugars too.

Probably like you who is reading this, I’m a busy, BUSY parent and business woman.  I don’t have much time to plan for meals.  I have to work smarter, not harder when it comes to cooking.  Many times, I reach for my “go to” foods and spices.  I use them in a large variety of ways that can make quick and easy meals that my family will enjoy.

What spices do you find yourself always using the most?  How can you continue to diversify them in your cooking?  What new spice are you trying to incorporate?

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