photo credit: Alaskan Dude
You’ve by now no doubt checked out all you can to find recipes to fill your 4 Hour Body cravings. Hopefully I’ve been able to prove to you that you can make delicious meals on this relatively limited food list (it’s really not that limited – it just doesn’t let you eat the crap your body can’t use anyway). I’m sure you’ve noticed something about the recipes: they usually have some type of delicious herb or spice.
Keep in mind, too, that it’s not all for the flavor. A lot of herbs also have great health benefits besides being delicious!
So get your grocery list out and mark down each one you don’t have yet. They’ll make great additions to your culinary repertoire!
Taking your food from “eh” to “YAY!!”
There are a couple really easy things you can put in your pantry right away to spruce up your meals.
Yes, Rachael Ray fans and non-fans alike have been switching from regular vegetable oil to extra virgin olive oil. Personally, I’ve been using EVOO exclusively for a couple years. The biggest reason is that it’s way healthier than most of your other oils (especially the cheap ones). It adds an amazing, rich flavor to any dish you use it in. I still need to try macadamia oil. I’ve heard good things about coconut oil, but it’s loaded with saturated fat so be careful.
This one’s kind of obvious, so if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon, do it at your earliest convenience. Salsa comes in so many varieties and spices up everything from chicken to eggs to fish. If you sign up for my newsletter, one of the recipes you get is my favorite homemade salsa!
Sriracha sauce and other hot sauces
If you’ve been to Asian restaurants, you’ve probably seen some sriracha sauce. It’s red chili paste, and typically found in a squeeze bottle with a chicken on it. It’s delicious. I eat it on eggs, beef, chicken – basically anything I might eat salsa on. The difference is whether my mood is Asian or Mexican. My favorite hot sauces are Cholula and Tapatío.
Nearly any and all mustards are allowed. It generally has 0-5 calories per serving and rarely has sugar. It’s my favorite “free” food in the entire world. I have spicy brown and Dijon in my fridge as we speak.
A note on sauces: Not all sauces are created equal. I use things like soy sauce, teriyaki and Worcestershire sauce, but I do it sparingly. It’s important to read labels, because you’ll find that sugar is a very common ingredient. I have yet to find an approved BBQ sauce, and most ketchup will be right out.
Now for the dry stuff
Even though it’s dry, it’s definitely not boring! (Well, that was a worse joke than I thought…) Every 4-Hour pantry should have the following spices in stock at all times:
Drink it in your coffee every day (just a tad – 1/2 tsp will do you fine). It also makes an exciting and interesting addition to chicken, pork, lentils, or the occasional vegetable dish.
Is there any other spice that is like cumin? It goes amazing with most meats and is particularly spectacular in hamburgers. I also like to put it in my lentils or beans while they cook.
Seasoned Salt and Garlic Salt
Seasoned salt is just a bit different than regular salt in that it’s got a couple other things in it. Check the labels because sometimes sugar is one of those things. Paprika is another, as well as garlic powder.
Chili pepper powders
Use these in more than just your favorite chilies. I like to use red chili, cayenne, and ancho.
This gets its own section. When you make kimchi, this is the pepper you need. It’s not crushed red pepper, but it is a type of red pepper flakes. It has a distinct flavor that is amazing in eggs, beans, veggies, and soups. And of course Korean dishes. It can be hard to find, so here’s a photo of my bag to compare to.
Add it to your lentils or beans as they cook out and thank me later.
Getting your herb on…
Every Italian-influenced meal needs oregano. It’s great in eggs and on chicken. Get it fresh if you can, but dried is OK if you can’t.
This herb often gets over-looked. I put it in a salad last weekend, and my brother-in-law wanted to know what “that freshy stuff” was that made the salad so delicious. Any time I want to use a fresh, Mexican-type feel in my food I turn to cilantro. It’s also incredible in Asian-inspired dishes, especially Thai food.
My favorite herb to use with pork, and maybe one of the easiest to grow in pots to have fresh all the time. I even had a rosemary Christmas “tree” one year! I absolutely love it cut fresh, rubbed between my fingers, and baked or pan-fried with some pork chops. I’m even toying with the idea of steeping it in my yerba mate when I drink it hot.
I usually use thyme with stuff that I also put oregano in. It gives it a bit of a dark, earthy flavor and really enhances chicken or pork.
Sage is a dark horse that has recently made its way to the front of my spice rack. It’s got a similar earthy flavor but also a vague sweetness that might be good in tea. It’s specifically great on pork and chicken.
If you grow no other herb at your house or apartment, grow some basil. You can put it in soup, chop it up in your eggs, bake it with chicken, put it in a burger – the possibilities are endless. Whenever I make Asian dishes, I’ll use basil to add to the potpourri of scents that waft into the nostril.
I’m giving them their own category because they’re so delicious and versatile! They’re easily my favorite set of spices to use on any – literally any – type of 4HB food. Any one or two from this list will spice your meals up 200%! In my pantry right now I have:
Check out Amazon or go to your local middle-eastern supermarket to find a whole assortment of delicious spices that will make your taste buds tingle!
Now it’s your turn
You can make any number of delicious recipe with a few of these ingredients, most of which are available at any supermarket. You can do it without loading up on the sodium too! So get on out there and stock up your pantry! I bet you can probably find some decent spice racks online too.
What is your favorite herb or spice? What goes into every special meal you make? What do you use that most people might not know about?