Yay! It’s the first day of the rest of your life! Ready to make it as delicious as possible?
Flavor-boosting isn’t just a hobby of mine; it’s an obsession. I’ve never really understood how some folks can choke down meal after meal of bland, unseasoned protein and vegetables—especially given that it’s often dead-simple to amp up the flavor profile of, well, EVERYTHING with just a few simple, wholesome ingredients.
The start of the New Year (and, for many of you, a new Whole30) is the perfect opportunity to stock your kitchen with spice blends and sauces that can instantly elevate any meal from ho-hum to DAD-GUM! (Ugh. Sorry—that was corny, and we all know that corn ain’t Paleo.)
First Up: Spices!
To be sustainable, Paleo eating has to be tasty, and spices go a long way toward perking up our palates. That’s why I love visiting my local spice purveyors, where I can follow my nose and stock up on curry powders, red chile pepper flakes, Chinese five spice, cumin, cinnamon—you name it. Then, when I get home, it’s mix-and-match time.
Longtime Nomsters know that my hands-down favorite spice blend is a flavored salt of my own creation: Magic Mushroom Powder. It’s revelatory, yo. (But a word of caution: It’s a salt blend that’s meant to be used just like salt. Season appropriately, and don’t overdo it!)
As one newspaper wrote: “It’s a spice blend with a psychedelic-sounding name, and while it has no hallucinogenic powers, it truly is magic, adding much-desired umami to everything it touches.” Still, man cannot live on Magic Mushroom Powder alone. So check out these other Whole30-friendly spice blends that I love:
- My own Tabil Spice Blend (an exotic Tunisian rub that tastes good on everything)!
- Smitten Kitchen’s Homemade Harissa! (This is more of a spice paste than a dry spice, but it still counts!)
- 101 Cookbooks’ Salad Booster!
- Melissa Joulwan’s Ras el Hanout!
- Serious Eats’ Cajun Spice Blend!
- The Kitchn’s Za’atar Seasoning Blend!
- Mark Sisson’s Spice Rubs For Your Holiday Roasts!
- Paleo Parents’ comprehensive tutorial on herbs and spices—and how to make their five favorite spice blends!
Next up: Sauces!
Feeling more saucy than spicy? I don’t blame you. After all, as Grimod de la Reyniére said, “A well-made sauce will make even an elephant or a grandfather palatable.” You won’t find me cooking up a pachyderm or a senior citizen, but here are some homemade sauces that can transform even the most boring piece of grilled protein into something crave-worthy:
- Whole30 Sriracha (note: red jalapeños and Fresno peppers may be challenging to find at this time of year, so feel free to substitute a mixture of spicy peppers and bell peppers)
- Tonnato Sauce
- Paleo Mayonnaise
- Umami Gravy
- Leon’s Caper and Anchovy Miracle Sauce
- Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce
Need even more saucy ideas? Go take a gander at Stupid Easy Paleo’s Ultimate Paleo Sauce Boss Round Up, featuring 50 Paleo sauces!
Whew—that’s a lot of recipes. But don’t get overwhelmed. Although I’m a firm believer in cooking our own food, I know it’s not always possible when Real Life gets in the way. So if making your own sauces isn’t in the cards this month, you can still enjoy insanely tasty flavor boosters by purchasing them. Just make sure you’re carefully reading product labels and stocking up with stuff that’s made with high-quality ingredients, like Tessemae’s all natural dressings and sauces. There are a bunch of Tessemae’s dressings that are Whole30-approved, and they’re fantastically delicious to boot.
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my Webby Award-Winning iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).133