It’s the time of year where the days are shorter, the temperatures are icier and all you crave is hot, hearty comfort food, just like Mom used to make. While you may crave dishes like buttery mashed potatoes, rich beef stew and creamy cups of hot cocoa, you probably can’t indulge in these treats every day. Instead of adding more fat, sugar or salt to your cooking to boost flavor, opt for savory spices to create the perfect winter meal.
Turmeric, the bright yellow spice favored in many Indian dishes, has a deep, earthy flavor and is also a natural antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent. It is used as a homeopathic remedy for upset stomachs, headaches, arthritis and other pain. Studies show it may even slow the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Use turmeric to turn an ordinary chicken supper into a spicy winter feast. Mix 2 cups of plain yogurt with turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, salt, pepper, one minced garlic clove and the juice of one lemon. Set aside half of the mixture and refrigerate. Coat four boneless, skinless chicken breasts evenly with the remaining mixture, cover and refrigerate for one hour. Scrape off as much of the yogurt marinade as you can, then pan-fry or broil the chicken until cooked. Serve with the other half of the yogurt mixture, grilled vegetables and whole wheat couscous.
Make a side dish the center of attention by sprinkling a generous helping of garlic pepper seasoning over your favorite vegetables. Saute or roast cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes in a little olive oil, salt and garlic pepper. Serve immediately when the vegetables are fork-tender.
Cloves add a strong, aromatic flavor to many dishes and drinks popular around the holiday season. Brew up a batch of hot apple cider, and the wonderful smell will attract people from miles around! Stud one apple and one orange with whole cloves, then add them to a medium pot containing apple cider, brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 to 20 minutes. Discard the apple and orange, then ladle the cider into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
What is your favorite spice to jazz up your comfort food?