Spice Up Your Life (Literally!)
The single most problematic issue for anyone interested in cooking their way thin is: “How do I make plain food taste great?”
Take a piece of chicken, for instance. Cook it plain and taste it. It’s, well, very plain. And after you chew two or three times, then you’re really left with nothingness instead of flavor.
That’s too bad, because a few simple tricks with spices and herbs can really get you far. In other words, it can really take you out of your routine and into a new, exciting world of deliciousness.
Take my spice combo trick, for example. You see, every cuisine in the world has its own flavor profiles, and its own staple spices. Applying these staple spices to your plain chicken would change things dramatically.
Consider these typical spice combinations:
Italian = Oregano, garlic, and lemon
French = Dijon mustard, French tarragon, and garlic
Mexican = Chili powder, cumin, and cilantro
Indian = Curry powder, cardamom, and mint
So on and so forth…
Truth be told, these combinations are so dramatic, yet easy to recreate, that you could cook the same piece of chicken using the same technique, and end up with a completely different dish.
The plain chicken breasts (above) have been marinated with the 4 spice combinations, then cooked separately. That shows you how different they can turn out.
So here is the exact way you need to do it:
- Know your spices
This is not about becoming a chef overnight. We’re just talking about acquiring a bit of knowledge and experience, here. I just want you to taste your spices, just so you know if you like them, and in which quantities you need to use them. Put a bit of the powder or a seed on your finger, and give it a taste. Does it taste spicy? Mild? Is it potent? Aromatic? Do you like it? What do you think this would pair with? Which quantity would you use?
2. Marinate your chicken
Grab a mixing bowl, throw the chicken in enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the meat, and one of the spice combinations above. Marinate overnight, or at least a couple of hours if you’re in a hurry.
This is what worked for me (feel free to adjust to your liking):
Italian = 4 tbsp oregano, 3 cloves garlic, 1lemon zest and ½ lemon juice, salt and pepper, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
French = 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp minced tarragon, 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Mexican = 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tbsp cumin, 3 tbsp chopped cilantro, salt and pepper, 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil.
Indian = 1 tbs Curry powder, ½ tbsp cardamom, 3 tbsp mint, salt and pepper, 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil.
Marinating is the action of letting an ingredient soak in a seasoned, often acidic liquid before cooking. A marinade can last a few seconds or a few days, depending on what you’re trying to do. The meat tissues start breaking down, absorb the flavors of the marinade, and sometimes tenderize a bit.
- Grill or sauté
Turn on your grill, or heat up a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear (make a golden brown crust on each side) the chicken breast under high heat, then lower the heat and finish cooking until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken breast reads 165 degrees F.
Make sure you let the meat rest for half its cooking time. And then enjoy your meal with a side of your choice.
There are 101 delicious ways to burn in my Eat More, Burn More cookbook. And combining the right spices is definitely one of them. The tastier your fat-burning chicken is, the more you’ll want to eat it. And the more weight you’ll lose.
Eat More Burn More, is what I always say.