5 Ingredients I Can’t Live Without

With there being so many ingredients out there, I love these 5 especially.  Keep a variety of each one on hand to create magical meals!  There is such fun in utilizing ingredients in many different ways and cooking methods.  I’ve excluded the simple pantry staples such as spices, flour, sugar, oils – the ones you normally think of. 

  1. Nuts
    • A very healthy snack and so many applications
    • Use as a crunchy topping, contrast of textures, add protein to a dish
    • Make a sauce with soaked nuts, perfect to make vegan sauces and cheeses (flavor with your favorite spices)
  2. Fresh herbs – my favorites are rosemary, thyme, sage
    • Herbs can brighten up any dish and take it to the next level; use in food or drinks to create unique combinations; simply having the smell in the kitchen or refrigerator is like a breath of fresh air
  3. Low sodium broth
    • This ingredient is so versatile because I can make a quick sauce, soup, to thin a dish out, add flavors; I especially like using this instead of water for grains and rice
    • Other ideas- use to reheat dishes and add moisture (instead of water), deglaze hot pans to keep things from sticking, when making white sauces or cream sauces use some broth to cut back on fat
  4. Beans
    • A great source of protein and great vegetarian/vegan meal option; so many to choose from with all different applications
    • Besides making great mexican food, other options are hummus, sandwich spread or dip, pot pies, in cold salads
    • They are so creamy and can easily be whipped into a recipe
  5. Cheeses
    • Snack attack, melty gooiness, sharp, ages, creamy, moldy – so many to choose from, there’s an abundance of different cheeses
    • Very unique flavors, shapes, colors from regions all over the world
    • Create a fabulous charcuterie board

Photo Credit:

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Photo by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

Photo by Süheyl Burak on Unsplash

Photo by Kevin Doran on Unsplash

National Grilled Cheese Day

National Grilled Cheese Day April 12th – I’ve been celebrating now 4 years with different breads and cheeses.  I usually serve this with the classic tomato soup or a different flavored soup.  A very cozy comforting lunch or dinner.  

I’ve made sandwiches with whole wheat bread, sourdough, colby and pepper jack cheeses, and brie.  Along with different fillings and sauces such as caramelized onions, balsamic leek jam, garlic herb butter, and spinach.  Another option is to set up a grilled cheese sandwich bar with a variety of breads, cheeses, spreads, vegetables, toppings, butter, etc.  This is really fun for a small party where you can cook the sandwiches on a griddle, large skillet, or in the oven. 

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Southwestern Pasta Salad

Great summertime cold pasta salad full of veggies and protein. I made this for a Cinco de Mayo party and it was a great hit! Packed with tomatoes, corn, onion, cilantro, black beans, and cheese. Wonderful for any summer gathering or party! I also want to try adding crunchy, colorful bell peppers.

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Light Pimento Cheese Spread

This colorful red-orange hue colorful mixture is perfect to make and store in the fridge for awhile.  I use it for quick lunches or as a cracker spread for snacks and if I have guests over.  The flavor components include: garlic, black pepper, and creamy cream cheese!  It’s definitely a go-to quick meal.

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Lentil Tacos

These tacos are perfect for vegetarians, hearty like regular taco meat! I like using corn tortillas or Mission Artisan Multi-Grain tortillas because they are lower in sodium and calories. Along with having fiber and whole grains, also being mindful of using low sodium cheeses. Adaptability wise, they are able to transform into being a vegetarian or vegan meal. Change up the type of broth used (either veggie or meat based) and option to use dairy or vegan dairy options! 

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Mozzarella Quiche

I make this on the weekends and then I have a snack or meals for the week.  I’ve made this with regular milk or soymilk.  With using unsweetened soymilk, the flavor is comparable and still tasty, without the sweetness that regular soymilk can have! Another note, I love mozzarella cheese since this is what I grew up eating, plus it’s great for heart health with naturally less fat.

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