To me, flavour = good food. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved eating foods that made me think “wow, what is IN that?!” In my opinion, spices are the key to delicious plant-based cooking. Unfortunately, vegan proteins just don’t offer a ton of flavour on their own – this means that having a well-stocked spice rack is super important to me!
Spices don’t have to cost a ton of money – instead of buying a new jar of each spice every time I run out, I buy spices in bulk (team Bulk Barn!!) and have a cute spice rack with labelled jars that I refill each time they run low.
My spice rack is front and centre on my counter, sitting right next to my stove so the spices are ready to be used in every dish I make.
In my mind, the spices I use belong to three categories:
- Vital & Versatile – the spices I absolutely have to have on hand and the ones I use for the biggest variety of dishes
- Packed with Flavour – the ones I use to get that ‘wow’ factor
- Herbs! – pretty self-explanatory, but I’m a HUGE fan of dried and fresh herbs alike, so they get their own category
Vital & Versatile
Cumin: literally my favourite spice. I use this in all of my curries, in chili, in hummus, in bean salads…the list goes on. I use cumin powder and cumin seeds, depending on what I’m cooking.
Turmeric: a little of this guy often goes a long way! It’s amazing for curries, tofu scrambles, and also for vegan cheeses! I go through it like crazy.
Garlic Powder: I am obsessed with garlic and I don’t really ever make dishes without it. Garlic powder is probably my most versatile spice – it goes into salads, sauces, stews, curries, etc…the list goes on!
Cinnamon: great in baking, but also wonderful in stews, curries, and drinks. Cinnamon is something you’ll likely find in most kitchens. It’s definitely a staple and for good reason – it’s versatile, fragrant, and yummy!
Paprika: this spice has a super mild flavour (unless you’re using smoked paprika) so it can work well in a ton of different dishes. It’s also great as a colourful garnish!
Mustard Powder: this is a spice I only recently added to my collection, but I’ve found it super useful in salad dressings and in vegan cheeses.
Packed with Flavour
Garam Masala: a delicious spice blend that ends up in many of my curries and soups. It’s got a very strong flavour, so be careful you don’t over-spice with it!
Coriander: all the people out there who can’t stand cilantro would never know that this spice comes from the polarizing herb. Its flavour adds an awesome dynamic to lots of dishes – it goes super well with cumin!
Fennel Seeds: another newer addition to my spice collection…I realized that these seeds add a wonderful underlying sweetness to a dish and I’ve started using them often, especially in curries!
Ginger: I rarely use the dried version of this spice, mainly because I’m in love with the flavour of fresh ginger. So if you can take the extra minute or two to grate or chop some fresh ginger root, I’d recommend it a thousand times over using powdered ginger. But I always have dried ginger on hand to use in a pinch!
Cayenne: deliciously spicy, this pal only needs to be used in small quantities for you to know it’s there! I use it to give my cooking a kick when I don’t have any fresh chiles on hand!
Chili Powder: I actually don’t use this spice very often, but I still love it and find it important to have. I obviously use it in chili… and I use it whenever I cook Mexican food.
Basil: as dried herbs go, this isn’t my favourite. Fresh basil, on the other hand, is a necessity for me. I’m growing some on my balcony right now…send good vibes to help it grow!!
Thyme: hands down, my favourite herb. No salad dressing is complete without thyme in my opinion. It’s also amazing in potatoes, shepherd’s pie, and pasta sauces.
Oregano: I love oregano in a lot of different dishes. Next to chili powder, oregano is the most important spice in my chili recipe. It also plays a huge part in Greek and Italian food.
Rosemary: this herb has a very strong flavour, so I don’t use it in as many recipes. I love roasting veggies with rosemary, especially potatoes! It also goes well in gravy, but fresh is best for this one.
Bay Leaves: if you’re a soup person, make sure you have bay leaves! They add a ton of flavour if you leave them to simmer in a broth. Just watch that you take them out before you serve… I’ve bitten into one too many bay leaves and it is NOT fun.
Like I said, I love to pack my food with flavour. I’m down to talk spices anytime, so comment or write me a note to tell me about your favourite ones to cook with!
xo – M