My Clean Eating Journey, a Salt Fat Acid Heat Cabinet, and Free Printable Labels

My Clean Eating Journey, a Salt Fat Acid Heat Cabinet, and Free Printable Labels

Cooking is about not allowing yourself to be intimidated and laughing through the really bad attempts. There’s an entire show on Netflix that celebrates bad baking- you don’t have to NAIL IT you just have to try.

Watch in Real-Time:

I organized and built my spice cabinet Live for friends follow along. Come join me in my kitchen, as we tackle my spice cabinet and have fun doing it! 🥳

NAILED IT!

It’s hard for me to imagine what food would taste like TODAY without salt, fat, acid, or heat. However, there was a time when I barely knew how important salt was or even how to work a stove.

Glass Jars with Wood Lids filled with Salt Flakes, Sea Salt, and Coarse Salt

Not only do I now know how to work a gas range, but my cabinet holds more than one salt and a ton of spices.

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THE SALT

Why add salt?

Let's talk about salt for a second. It’s an essential ingredient for any dish. No, not just sodium but real salt. If you’re afraid of adding too much salt then at least you’re using it. If you think salt is bad for you, then chances are you aren't doing much cooking. Salt is one of the first things on my mind anytime I start a meal. When you are making your own food it doesn't have any added sodium. The only ingredients are the ones you add to it. This was one of the first things I had to learn. Once I started using salt, I started to understand it. It’s still pretty funny when a chef says just a pinch and it’s half the bowl. But I can relate. Himalayan Salt, Kosher Salt, Flakey Salt, Fine Grain Salt, Sea Salt. We need iodine, but salt is much bigger than your average table salt. It’s ALL a winner in my book. Every salt I keep in my cabinet creates a different tasting dish.

Here are a few of my favorite salts:

  • Redmonds Ancient Salt
  • Davids Kosher
  • Maldon Sea Salt

If you aren’t up on your salt, spices, or have a clue what clean eating is, then you have come to the right space. The reason I chose to title this post SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT is simply because I believe these are the fundamentals of cooking. If you can learn to be comfortable with salt, fat, acid, and heat you'll be set. I can't think of a meal I cook today, that doesn't include something from each category. It's an incredible title for a Netflix show and book. Kind of wish I would have thought of it myself.

Let's grind! (spice joke) You’ll get it soon.

(If you’re here for the freebie just scroll down to the bottom!)

Just as salt has such a vast range so does spice. Do you remember a time when you thought salt and pepper were the only two things you could use to flavor a meal? Possibly this is still where you’re at today. Thats ok, that was me once too. I joke around with my husband (Ben) because he married me for a lot of reasons but one of them was certainly not my cooking. That would have made me simply irresistible!

It's true though, the best dish I ever made was ramen noodles. Yes, the bag kind. I even brought them to Hawaii with us, because I couldn't live without them. They are so bad for you but they tasted so good. So I thought. I loaded those noodles up with the seasoning salt it came with and butter. So much freaking butter. The only other ingredient I knew had something to do with flavoring our food.

Nope, he didn't marry me for my gourmet meals but little did he know I would find such a love for cooking over the next 13 years. Wow, I think I just aged myself. Guys, we will be married 13 years this May. I love that man.

If you are doing the math, that's roughly 7 years of bad meals and bad luck!

A little comical. If that isn't true love, then I don't know what is!

Little did I know what hurdles were up ahead…

To help you understand how my love for cooking began, I’ll have to scroll back to 2013-2014.

2014 was an epic year for me, but 2013 was one of the hardest years Ben and I had ever experienced together. The events that occurred that year lead to us not just talking about the things we wanted but doing them. Have you ever been there? I'm sure so many of you have. No time like the present.

Sometimes these mega moments in life can quickly be passed over but other times what we sprinted after stays with us forever. Not only did it stick but it changed the way I view food and in the process ignited a deep love for cooking.

So imagine this... End of 2013, I'm a mama of two babies under 4 at the time. Not sure what the heck I wanted in life but knew it wasn't feeling like crap every day. Order and Bliss wasn’t even a thought and I had some baby weight from 2 years ago to lose.

The unexpected…

In June of that year, my husband had to have emergency eye surgery. One day he called me and said that all he could see out of his left eye was wavy lines. Can you imagine? We were at the doctor’s office within the hour. A few hours later, the doctors told us he was within days of losing full vision in his left eye. He would need surgery in the morning, and no it couldn't wait. It was a bit of an unexplainable thing. They knew that his retina was detaching just not sure how it could have happened without a major trauma. The doctor’s compared it to the trauma one would experience in a car accident. It takes a lot of force to detach a retina, yet his was detaching. Of course, we were scared but we had faith that they found it in time and he would be ok. He had scleral buckling surgery the next morning and then the recovery began.

Barely two months later, bad luck struck us again. My husband still wasn’t allowed to drive yet and emotions were still very raw.

One day I woke to pain and some stuff I will spare you the gory details of. Never in my life had I experienced what I saw that day. It scared me. I called my doctor and after a little googling, I thought I was experiencing a miscarriage. To this day I’m not sure if I did or did not miscarry. My doctor said it could’ve been but it was too early to know for sure. Instead, within a few days, I found out and had removed severe pre-cancer cells from my cervix. I was 25 at the time. Two days after my procedure, I developed a blood clot and had to have a second emergency procedure. As if that wasn’t enough, at that same appointment, my doctor told me I may not be able to carry another baby to term. You could say I felt pretty lost. It was a hard time for us but I certainly wasn't done having babies or just going to give up. I knew my body needed more from me. I knew I needed more for myself and my family. It’s not always easy for us to see and sometimes it takes a little vision scare and pre-cancer to get your ass moving. Do you feel me?

We were lucky to be alive and weren’t going to just talk about what we wanted, we were going to go after it. Life is too short. Life is fleeting. What we experienced could have gone an entirely different direction but thankfully God said no. You will both not only survive this but you will thrive after this. And thrive we did.

Within 4 months we...

  • Went to Vegas
  • Planned a big 2nd birthday party for our daughter and my niece
  • Went to Disneyland
  • Designed the pool we’d only been dreaming about
  • Joined a CrossFit gym (the idea alone intimidated me to my core)
  • Started juicing
  • Talked about baby number three ( Ben wasn’t on board just yet)
  • And so much more…

One Crossfit class and I was hooked

That year in Nov of 2013 I joined a free Crossfit class and never looked back. I was hooked! The competitor in me found her happy place. Why was I so scared to even try it? I have no idea. I would have missed out on SO much. Every WOD (workout of the day) was about improving my time, my reps, my strength, my distance, and my grit. The stronger I got the more I learned about my body. After weeks of consistent workouts, It was becoming hard to recover after my work outs. I slowly started to learn that my body needed more to push through these brutal workouts and insanely sore muscles. The juicing although good wasn’t enough.

Every day was a challenge, for both me and my body. I wanted to quit. I think at the time I figured I could just work out like crazy and eat whatever the heck I wanted. Unfortunately, something happens the closer we get to the ripe age of 30. The body isn't so kind anymore if you aren't fueling it with the proper nutrition. That brings me back to the days when I would down a massive shrimp burrito every day. It's insane now but it didn't seem like a big deal then. I was missing that 20-year-old metabolism and it was becoming more apparent every day. I needed to make some major life changes.

A game-changing piece for me…

When you get up around 5 am and work out for an hour, a grocery store sounds pretty good. No one at my house was up yet, so an hour walking around the grocery store was no biggie. This was the year I discovered the grocery store, Sprouts. I learned so much just walking around Sprouts. I paid a lot more attention to brands and why they chose to stock them. I started to recognize how certain brands that were staples in our home weren't even found on their shelves. How could that be? I just kept buying and trying. Try everything once, right? I discovered, brussels sprouts, almond milk, squash, plantains, coconut aminos, Adobo seasoning, and many other things. These new foods began to create new nutritional habits. So much of what I bought couldn't be stored in a freezer or cooked in a microwave.

Food alternatives for clean eating: Cow’s milk: Almond milk Potato chips: Plantians Soy sauce: Coconut Aminos All purpose seasoning with added junk: Adobo Seasoning White rice: Brown rice Milk chocolate: 70%+ Dark chocolate White potatoes: Sweet potatoes Freezer waffles: Homemade gluten free waffles Sweets: Smoothies Coffee creamer with dairy: Coconut/Almond milk You can see how I began to replace typical items with healthier choices.

Paleo lifestyle

Fast forward to the beginning of 2014 and my Crossfit gym announces a Paleo challenge. Paleo what... I think that's a dinosaur or a prehistoric bird, right? For real. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Well, wouldn't you know this was a huge motivator for me? If you’re challenging me to do something and it’s safe enough… I'll probably do it. This was not only a challenge but it was exciting. There were over 100 of us signed up. We were then split into teams and given a coach who had already been eating this way. It was incredibly motivating.

I could write about the Paleo challenge for days. I learned so much about my body, about how weight can be gained and lost at the same time. How important food, (not processed or frozen) is and how the right ingredients have the power to make us feel not a day over 4! Toddler energy! Yippee!!! Combined with exercise and an insane amount of discipline anything is possible for people to reach their goals. You can do it!

Paleo Challenge Before & After Progress Photos

These goals were different for everyone. Some people wanted to lose upwards of 100 lbs and others just wanted to get stronger and leaner. My goal was to heal my stomach issues and gain more energy. In the first few days of the challenge, some people ended up food cheating or mistakenly eating something that wasn't part of the challenge. We paid for those with a cheat WOD and it was brutal.

I remember a time I grabbed the kid's almond milk over mine (theirs had sugar added to it) I was so worried I messed everything up. I was that committed/disciplined to my new Paleo lifestyle. For me, it was so much more than just a challenge. After that first week of detoxing my body, I started to feel different. My years of stomach pains seemed to be dissipating. Guys, I’d been experiencing stomach/digestive issues since I caught the H. pylori bacteria on my honeymoon in 2008. I was 20 at the time. This bacteria sat in my system and wreaked havoc on my stomach lining for over 5 months before my doctor at the time was able to find it. Technology has come a long way since then. It took them so long to find my H. pylori because they had to test my blood for that exact bacteria. I think now they can find it in a breath test. Crazy right? I endured months of damage to my stomach lining. I had a colonoscopy, a scope test, and never felt well. I walked around with dots under my eyes from throwing up so much. I lost count of how many times the doctor’s office made me take a pregnancy test. HA! We may have been newlyweds but I was sick more than I wasn’t.

How our first baby was conceived…

Since I'm the queen of going on a tangent. A little humor for you guys. Back then, I also had no idea how antibiotics affected birth control. So at the age of 20, our first baby was convinced on said antibiotics and a mix of birth control. So, I didn't exactly plan to start having babies so young but I couldn't imagine life today without our Trav Trav! He's now 11.

Another thing to point out is that my first pregnancy was the worst I've ever had. I was still very sick, sick the entire time. Our baby was born under emergency circumstances prematurely (4 weeks early) with me suffering from pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is one of the scariest things a new mom could have to go through. It causes our blood pressure to rise, and shows proteins in our urine. My case was extreme. At the end of my pregnancy, my baby was safer outside of my body than inside of it. I gained so much weight (over 40 lbs) and wasn't in control of my body at all. If our baby wasn’t born early, he would have been pretty big. At 4 weeks premature he was just over 6 lbs. He spent 9 days in the NICU for his lungs to develop.

Between sickness and terrible food choices, I never felt good.

My point to all of this is that my body was broken for a very long time. Between sickness and terrible food choices, I never felt good. Some things I did to my body and others were out of my control. It wasn’t until the Paleo challenge that I finally started to feel good.

The way the Paleo diet is designed forces us to have to make everything we eat which also forces us to learn how to cook. It focuses on only the food we could've hunted or gather millions of years ago. Obviously, I'm not out hunting my own game but it does challenge us to choose differently. Nothing to microwave or use the included package. It opens us up to an entirely new world. It changes our bodies from the inside out. It helps us eliminate the foods that are processed and full of added sugars. It helps us to detox what was built up for days, months, or even years. It’s truly incredible. It is never too late to start making better choices for ourselves and our family. Paleo is a gigantic leap but even the smallest leap can make a world of difference to our minds and bodies. Baby steps, friends!

Do you know how to fry an egg?

I was listening to the radio the other day, and the female DJ said how even at her age of 40+ she only just learned how to cook an egg. She wasn't alone either. There were so many others admitting that they had no idea what to do in a kitchen without a microwave. That was me years ago as well. I was incredibly intimated by everything in the kitchen...until I just began to try. It's amazing what happens when we try something that intimidates us. It's as if the skies open up and you’re enriched in something you’ve never seen before- something NEW! Yet it's not necessarily new, humans always ate only what they could catch or gather.

How things changed for me…

  • I don't just love food, I appreciate it.
  • I don’t just use spice, I study and experiment with flavors.
  • I don’t just love cooking, it's a part of me.
  • I don’t just eat clean, it’s a choice I have to make every day.

If I can go from cooking ramen noodles and thinking I'm as good as Chef Gordon Ramsay. To searching his videos and studying why he does certain things... then you can too.

By the way, Gordon Ramsay has this burger recipe on YouTube that he does in under ten minutes and it’s a great starter video. I personally don't think Ramsay burns the onions but you be the judge!

Most people I have conversations with about cooking are afraid to grill but truth be told, I never use a grill. We don’t even own one. I would like to one day, but it just hasn't been a big priority. Oh, and a smoker. I would love to have a smoker one day as well. I cook almost everything in my ALL-Clad stainless steel pans or in the oven. Currently, we don’t even have a microwave in our home and I haven’t missed it for over a year now. When we first designed our new kitchen, I dedicated an entire space for a microwave. I never thought it would be possible to live without a microwave. I’m still shocked. We may still get one in the future but again, right now it's not a high priority. You can make cooking work with only what you have.

One of my favorite sayings in any movie comes from Ratatouille, “Anyone can cook.” I truly believe this. The movie is inspiring, not because it's about a rat cooking but it's about believing in the impossible. Ratatouille is one of our favorite family movies and I think my kids appreciate it because of their knowledge of cooking.

We live in a world where everything is so easy.

Learning how to fuel our bodies with the right food, spices, fat and ingredients is everything. We live in a world where everything is so easy. If you want a gourmet meal, it could be ready in under an hour. If you want a cheeseburger, 30 seconds. The viral videos on Instagram and TikTok although entertaining are a little frustrating if you try to do them at home. It may be disappointing to find that a snap of a finger isn't reality. A turn of an imaginary wand isn't going to magically cook an entire meal or organize an entire kitchen. That would be cool but it's just not reality. The real time spent on those videos, would shock you. Good things- good food, take time and preparation. It takes me over an hour to cook every meal I make. Which understandably is difficult for people to find the time for. I get it, same here. Choosing to cook for my family means having to give up other things. There are days when I don’t want to cook. I have to dig deep to get through it. If I had items in my house that made it easy not to cook, I probably wouldn't. BUT, you know what… every time I make a meal for my family I’m so glad I did. I not only feel accomplished but I also don't have to endure hours of stomach pains.

A tip for choosing better food at home…

Buy only the good stuff. You can only cook and eat what you have available in your home. You buy junk, you’ll eat junk. You stock your freezer full of frozen burritos instead of berries. You’ll undoubtedly eat the burritos. It's a practice and a choice. I understand that its hard for people to buy the more expensive items but I have noticed that if you’re making what you eat, its actually really affordable. Theres a big difference from a burrito made at home with fresh affordable ingredients then anything previously frozen. It’ll taste better too if you make it.

Sacrifices must be made to change our ingrained eating habits…

The biggest draw back to clean eating is the cost factor. You will be spending more money on groceries if that’s the only way you look at it. The way I choose to look at it, is as a whole. Yes, your grocery bill will go up but your dinning out bill will go down. Yes, you may be replacing ingredients sooner because they typically come in smaller packaging but you’ll enjoy learning and experimenting with new things. You may be spending more time in the kitchen, but less time at the doctor. You will have to make your own coffee, but you’ll save money. You may have to give up things you love, but you will find new favorites in the process. You may feel like total crap at first, but it will pass. If you stick with it, after weeks of clean eating and exercising you will be heading to the store to buy that outfit you’d only dreamed of wearing. Thats when you know its worth it, but it takes time and comittment.

Stock up on the items you love to cook with

If cooking and eating cleaner is something you want to learn, it's important to have the right tools available to you. Cooking wouldn't be half as fun, if I had to search for everything I needed first. This brings me to the heat part of my cabinet.

My food would suck without spice. Everything would taste bland and lifeless and I would wonder why I spent {wasted} an hour of my life on it.

You have to be willing to experiment with spice.

THE HEAT

The best way I learn about a new spice is through experimenting and smelling it. Once you start to understand spices and how they work in combination with other spices it changes everything. I hate how most spice jars restrict you from touching the spice and seeing it. That's the best part. Take off the weird plastic cap and really smell them and then imagine how good your food will taste. Be careful sniffing the cinnamon. Spice is everything. It's the reason why we don’t mind paying more for food at a fancy restaurant. You better believe those chefs are seasoning their food. And you guessed it, adding a lot of salt.

If I see a new spice I haven't tried, you better believe I'm buying it.

I'm not a hoarder in any area of life except spices. If I see a new spice I haven't tried, you better believe I'm buying it. To me, it's as good as a candy store. No… better. I have no restraint, and I won't apologize for it. I cycle my spices by seasons (ha, that works both ways I guess) as some do with their clothing. I also can barely keep my jars full long enough to take a picture. Totally justified.

Hey, if you use it… it's ok to have it.

Organized Spice Jar Cabinet with Free Printable Labels

My Custom Spice Jar Labels: FREE PRINTABLE

I know there are a ton of spice jar labels out there but I wanted to create something that celebrated the quality that can only be found in a great organic spice. Thrive has made it so easy to experience the best flavoring your food has to offer for not a lot of money. Each bag cost me around $3. I can just refill the glass jars I have and not have to worry. Worth it. They have a massive collection. Spice yeah!

Links:

Also, I’m breaking down every spice and how I personally like to use them.

The SPICE

There are so many benefits to adding spice into your diet. Lowering your blood pressure, fighting digestive issues, decreasing inflammation, and heart health. Not only that, but they help build your palette and your tolerance. If you don't like a lot of heat... just add a little. Not none, but a little. Slowly you’ll be able to add more spice without noticing it.

Chili Powder

  • Chili of course
  • Seasoning beef or ground turkey for tacos

Paprika

  • Everything. I’m obsessed with Paprika
  • I love the extra little kick it gives on veggies and eggs. So good.

Smoked Paprika

  • Even better than paprika. For real. The smoke flavor is wonderful on meat, chicken, vegetables, and a hard-boiled egg. Smoked goodness.

Cajun Seasoning

Sea Salt, Organic Spices, Organic Dehydrated Onion, Organic Dehydrated Garlic, Paprika, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Ground Mustard, Organic Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Organic Safflower Oil, Organic Rice Concentrate, Natural Smoke Flavor.

  • Give me all the Cajun Seasoning. I can't keep this jar full. As a family we already love spice but with the combination of flavors its quite literally the perfect blend.

Cardamon

  • This is a great spice to have in your collection. Baking, breakfast, smoothies, cookies. Combine it in most dishes you use cinnamon.

Cinnamon

  • What's not to love about Cinnamon. Not a waffle or pancake gets made in my house without it. It's also a great addition to sweet potatoes and oatmeal. The list goes on and on.

  • We recently made frosting and used a little Sugar Cookie Mix, which is Cinnamon and Maple Sugar and it was mouth-watering.

Everything Bagel Spice Blend

Sesame Seed, Dehydrated Onion, Sea Salt, Poppy Seed, Dehydrated Garlic, Ground Black Pepper.

  • Tuna. So good in tuna and of course on bagels and sandwiches!

Chinese Five-Spice

Fennel, Cinnamon, Star Anise, White Pepper, Cloves.

-This spice is a hidden gem. When you first smell it you may be turned off by the licorice scent. Don’t let that fool you though, it’s delicious. Once you add a little salt and vinegar the flavors burst. You can also taste the White Pepper which is one of my favorites.

  • Taco or chili. It helps delete the tomato paste flavor.

Ground Ginger

  • Asian cuisine and I like adding it to taco chili for an entirely new flavor.

Curry Powder

Organic Turmeric Root, Organic Coriander Seed, Organic Cumin Seed, Sea Salt, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Fenugreek Seed, Organic Cayenne Pepper, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cardamon, Organic Cloves, Organic Nutmeg.

-Hello, for curry but also anytime I’m making chicken or stew. I have to admit I was a little intimated by this spice in the beginning but now I love it. It adds such a unique kick and I find myself reaching for it often. I love any combination spice with Cinnamon but the Nutmeg and Coriander really stand out. It’s also pretty cool how it turns the chicken yellow!

  • I recently tried curry powder with soy sauce in a burger and it was BOMB. See, always experimenting.

Crushed Red Pepper

  • Not an everyday spice for me, but I like adding it to chili, and anytime I want our meal to have an extra kick.

Taco Seasoning

Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic Spices, Organic Paprika, Organic Dehydrated Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Dehydrated Onion, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Ancho Chile Powder, Organic Rice Concentrate, Organic Cayenne.

  • Without a doubt the addition of Ancho Chile in this mix makes it incredible. We love using this blend for Taco Tuesday and Fajita Fridays. Also, one of my favorite ways to make a homemade spicy ranch dressing. My mouth is watering.

Za’atar

Organic Spices, Organic Sesame Seed, Sea Salt, Organic Sumac.

  • I was pleasantly surprised by this spice mixture. I first discovered this spice blend on Thrive Market but the combination of the Sumac was so intriguing. It didn’t disappoint.

Ground Cumin

  • I’m such a fan of cumin. I make these turkey muffins and cumin is the spice you taste the most. It’s not spicy but it’s tangy in the best way. Add too much though, and it can overpower your dish.

Turmeric

  • I add this spice for its health benefits. It’s strong on its own but great in combination with other spices and added in to smoothies.

THE HERBS

Onion Powder

  • Don’t get me wrong, onion powder has its place but I would always choose fresh onions first. I love to combine onion powder with other complimentary spices. Onion powder is more of a backup spice for me. It works great in dishes that need to sit and cook.

Garlic Powder

  • I rely on garlic powder a lot. Even if I use fresh garlic, I still tend to use garlic powder to amp up the taste. I especially turn to garlic powder for chicken, beef, and any type of stir fry.

Italian Seasoning

Organic Oregano, Organic Basil, Organic Marjoram, Organic Sage, Organic Garlic.

  • This spice is strong but smells so fresh. You can add it to any red sauce or as a pizza topping. I don't typically reach for this spice daily. It takes a certain meal.

Basil

  • Pretty much just pizza. A perfect topping if you ask me.

Oregano

  • Pizza again. If you make a pizza, add Oregano. If you heat a frozen pizza, add Oregano.

Dill Weed

  • Give me all the dill and anything that taste like a pickle. Homemade dressings. Roasted sweet potatoes. Tuna. It all works. This is another jar I have a hard time keeping full.

All-Purpose Seasoning

Organic Dehydrated Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Ground Mustard Seed, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Powder, Organic Acacia Gum, Organic Rosemary, Organic Basil, Citric Acid, Organic Lemon Juice Powder.

  • The name says a lot. It serves many purposes. I tend to use it most on chicken and vegetables, great on squash and asparagus.

Adobo Seasoning

Pink Himalayan Salt, Garlic, Onion, Black Pepper, Oregano, Turmeric.

  • My number one vegetable seasoning- hands down. You will never see my spice cabinet without Adobo. It won’t happen. Ever. It's the one spice I tell my friends to buy after they taste my cooking. It makes a huge difference because of its blend and heavy garlic/herb flavor. Amazing on chicken. Amazing on everything.

Sage

  • I find myself reaching for Sage mostly for sausage and breakfast items.

Thyme

  • Thyme isn't an everyday herb for me but with the right combinations it can be a great add in. I like to mix onions, butter, thyme and garlic, especially on potatoes.

Rosemary

  • Its a heavier scented herb. You have to be prepared to really taste it. In the right dish its great. Chicken and eggs all the way. Especially fried eggs with butter.

Bay Leaves

  • I add Bay Leaves into dishes that have to cook for hours. Especially stocks and anything I make in my dutch oven. The scent is strong but in a pleasant way.

Coriander

-Coriander is incredible. I truly had no idea what I was missing until I tried it. It smells amazing and its become one of my go to spices. Its great with chicken and pasta. Whenever I add vinegar to a dish with coriander the aroma is insane.

Herbes De Provence

Organic Basil, Organic Thyme, Organic Rosemary, Organic Lavender, Organic Marjoram, Organic Fennel Seed, Organic Parsley, Organic Anise Seed.

  • This delectable herb looks and smells like flowers. I first discovered this herb on a show I watched about smoking meat. I love its lavender appearance and the way it makes chicken taste. I gave a package to my mother-in-law and she loved it too. You can smell this herb mixture down the block.

Parsley

  • Beef, potatoes, soups, tuna.

The SEEDS

Sesame Seeds

  • These are great to add at the end of a stir fry, in pasta, or for a great little crunch in a salad.

  • We love making chicken lettuce wraps and these little seeds gives the dish that perfect crunch.

Coriander seeds

  • Indian dishes especially curries. However, the seeds give off this cilantro flavoring which is crazy to me. So, they are especially good in guacamole with a little elbow grease.

THE ACID and THE FATS

You will also notice the cooking oils and bottles of vinegar I keep in my cabinet and on my counter. I’m a bit picky about my oils and vinegars. I cook daily with Avocado oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and usually White Wine Vinegar but I experiment with many others. I love the Spectrum brand for specialty oils that are hard to find such as peanut oil and sesame. The quality of their oils is just better than most I've tried.

Before I begin any meal, I decide on the fat I’ll use. Typically I reach for Avocado Oil for high heat and EVOO for low heat cooking or roasting in the oven.

In the bamboo lazy-susan on my counter:

  • Avocado Oil (I use this everyday)
  • EVOO
  • White Wine Vinegar

In my cabinet:

  • Sesame Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

2020 pandemic life takeaway

There’s one major cooking takeaway I got from our new norm aka 2020 pandemic life.

We don’t have to rely on others to cook for us and our family.

We can do it. Don’t get me wrong, taking the time for a date night or getting food when you’re out and about, makes total sense. What I mean is relying on someone to cook for us and our family more than we do. Does this sound familiar?

As hard as it was at times, we only ordered in one thing during the entire 2020 year. Can you guess what it was? Of course, it was pizza. Sure, I made pizza at home a few times but Barros is still one of our favorites, and kids need to experience pizza. Mom’s gluten-free cauliflower pizza doesn't always satisfy the craving. It's ok to get food when you really need too and you certainly shouldn’t feel bad about it. A good goal to set for you and your family is just to order in or take out less. Once every month not once or twice a week.

Learning how to cook doesn’t happen overnight…

Truly understanding food takes time. Learning how to cook not only takes time but a ton of practice as well. It takes more time than I realistically have. But it’s important and I make it work. With the right fuel, our bodies will always thank us for our hard work.

You have to be willing to fail more times than you succeed.

Cooking has a way of making us feel accomplished. It’s pure joy seeing the people we love eating the food we made for them. And don’t worry they’ll eat the not-so-great stuff too. We’re way harder on ourselves than the food people are willing to consume. That’s a fact.

You may not be able to cook for your family 5 or 6 days a week but maybe you could start with one or two days a week. Maybe you already cook so for you it's about finding the right ingredients to make a real change for your body both inside and out.

Even 7 years later I'm still learning. Cooking for our family isn't about perfection. I still screw up a sauce, burn the brussel sprouts or even forget to pre-heat the oven. It's not about plating the perfect meal or being flawless in the kitchen. Just be willing to try. Set aside a little time to plan a few meals a week or a little extra time to cook dinner at home.

You’ll soon find yourself laughing through your screw-ups and celebrating your culinary wins.

I never actually thought cooking was fun until I began to do it.

Crank up those jams, dance it off a little, and find your inner Remy (the little Rat from Ratatouille) because yes YOU can cook, anyone can!

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