Healthy Handful: five kitchen helpers I can’t live without

As I was unpacking a toiletries bag from my third trip this past month, I had to smile when I found a bottle of cayenne pepper nestled between my facial cleanser and perfume. Since I never know what fare I’m going to find on the road (or in the skies), I’m a firm believer in traveling with some basic staples to help certain foods along. These are also the standard kitchen stand-by’s that play a supporting, yet crucial, role in preparing the main stars of my kitchen, whether it’s fruit or vegetable, fish or fowl, linguine or legumes. I was too hard-pressed to identify just five, so I’ve settled on five groupings — partners that can quickly add pizzazz to any food palette needing some flair.

1) Cayenne pepper + Coarse sea salt. The pepper is known for its fiery zest and medicinal qualities, while the sea salt is known for its bright, pure, clean flavor thought to be due in part to trace minerals not found in table salt.

2) Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) + Balsamic vinegar. EVOO is considered healthful because of its high content of monounsaturated fat and polyphenols, while the dark, complex balsamic vinegar is ideal for salad dressings and marinades (or simply paired with EVOO for a rustic bread dipping sauce).

3. Garlic + Onion. Two long-known medicinal foods that also add flavor to any meal.

4) Lime juice + Organic broth. Lime juice adds a kick to everything from Mexican and Thai food to simple salad dressings, while organic broth can moisten and flavor a wide array of meat, vegetable and rice dishes.

5) Ginger + Honey. Pickled, stewed, candied, powdered or fresh, the ginger root touts a thousand culinary and medicinal uses (great for nausea and morning sickness), while honey sweetens beverages, baked goods, even natural beauty and skin care remedies.

What are five kitchen supporting stars you can’t live without?

Author by Kristi Anderson