Spice up your cooking!

There are so many simple ways to enhance the flavor of foods and shake up the monotony of meal prepping. Below are some of my favorite ways to bump up the flavor of practically anything: meat, poultry, fish, meat alternatives, or veggies. The instructions are the same for all recipes: mince finely if needed (with a knife, blender, or mortar and pestle), combine, and toss with the food to achieve an even coating. In addition to adding flavor, herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric (to name a few) may have additional health benefits such as reducing exercise-induced inflammation!

Spice Mixes

Using a spice mix is a great way to quickly create depth of flavor in almost anything you sear, sauté, grill, or roast. Pre-made spice mixes can be inexpensive and very convenient; some of my favorites are McCormick’s grinder Lemon-Pepper, Garlic-Pepper, and Italian Herb, as well as Trader Joe’s “Everyday”, “21 Seasoning Salute”, and “Everything but the Bagel” seasonings. Penzey’s is another great source for quality spices and spice mixes. Below are three of my favorite homemade spice mixes, which can be made in large batches and stored for up to a year!

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*Store in freezer.

Marinades

As a general rule of thumb, the longer you marinate something, the more powerful the flavor of the marinade will be. With fish, it only takes about an hour to flavor; marinating further may change the texture, especially if there is an acid in the marinade (e.g. vinegar, citrus). For meats that are thicker, marinate for at least 12 hours and for up to 36 hours (larger meat = longer marinating time). There may even be health benefits to marinades – research shows that marinating meats with rosemary before grilling can help prevent the formation of cancer-causing compounds (called heterocyclic amines)! If cooking on a stovetop, be sure to use low to medium heat to keep from burning the marinade.

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If you like to keep it simple, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the classic, tried-and-true seasoning of salt and pepper! The key is to be sure that the product is evenly coated with a small amount of oil before seasoning and to roast at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Use this handy guide to learn the best way to roast and season vegetables of all shapes and sizes – and remember, you can taste the raw veggies to ensure they have enough seasoning before roasting. Obviously, that can’t be done with raw meats, but guidelines for roasting times and temperatures of different meats can be found here.
Do these sound too complicated?

We want to see your creations! Be sure to tag @USRowing in your creatively seasoned dishes and include the hashtag #EatSleepRowRepeat. Your recipe may be featured on our social media pages!

This article was originally written by the USOC Sports Nutrition Team and updated by Liz Fusco, MS, RDN, Performance Dietitian for USRowing. Liz can be reached at lfusco@usrowing.org.

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