When it comes to creating delicious home meals, healthy ingredients and methods can go a long way towards success – but for genuinely unforgettable dishes there is one key ingredient that chefs and experienced home chefs keep: an irreplaceable flavour enhancer!
These delicious last-minute flavour enhancers are versatile, providing a quick way to brighten up savoury dishes or enhance sweet ones with something a bit extra decadent.
Cinnamon is inseparable from our food culture, from cinnamon rolls to pumpkin-spiced coffee. While cinnamon may appear as simply another piece of tree bark to the uninitiated eye, its power lies in transforming any dish or beverage into something entirely new.
Cassia cinnamon can be found at grocery stores as a dark red-brown powder and contains high levels of coumarin, which in large doses, may lead to liver damage. Natural cinnamon contains lower concentrations of coumarin and boasts more delicate flavours.
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the body and limit fat peroxidation while also offering anti-inflammatory benefits that could potentially prevent neurodegenerative disorders, heart disease and cancer. But, unfortunately, human studies remain limited – more research must be completed before definitive answers can be provided regarding whether cinnamon really prevents Alzheimer’s and related brain-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and HIV.
Root has long been recognized for its health-giving benefits, including anti-inflammation, natural blood thinning properties and helping fight cancer.
Rhizomes, underground stems known as knotted stalks, contain volatile oils and pungent phenol compounds such as gingerols and schools, giving ginger its unique taste and aroma. Health care professionals typically suggest ginger to ease nausea due to motion sickness, pregnancy or chemotherapy treatments, and reduce aches and pains such as arthritis or menstrual cramps.
Add slices or diced ginger to tea or lemonade for an uplifting beverage, or boil pieces of fresh root in hot water to create refreshing ginger water – great for soothing digestive distress and helping with weight management. A 2018 study demonstrated how ginger extract decreased pro-inflammatory molecules production, potentially helping slow ageing by reducing free radical damage (the spice’s ursolic acid may even prevent cancer cells from multiplying!). Test tube studies indicate school may inhibit tumour growth as well as promote cell death in specific cancers.
When drizzled on whole-grain pancakes and waffles, maple syrup adds sweetness and health benefits, providing more than just an indulgent treat. As a natural alternative to refined sugars, maple syrup offers numerous health advantages over its processed counterparts.
Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, providing 35% of the daily value in just one tablespoon. Furthermore, its presence of riboflavin helps keep blood cells active while supporting protein metabolism to release energy for energy release.
Maple syrup contains potent antioxidant compounds like polyphenolics, gallic acid and proanthocyanidins which have anti-inflammatory properties. These anti-oxidants may help protect against certain diseases and decrease heart disease risk as well as Alzheimer’s risk. You can add maple syrup into a variety of recipes using it as a topping or salad dressing base – you could even drizzle some over chicken, pork or turkey!
Shallots are versatile vegetables with an intriguing onion-y flavor. From raw, salad and dressings, and cooked in sauces or soups – to garnishing fish and chicken dishes and easy preparation methods like frying, sauteing or roasting – shallots make an essential ingredient in any cook’s pantry, offering subtle sweetness with their mild bite as an antibacterial, antidiabetic and fibrinolytic agent.
Shallots resemble onions but are covered with a thin papery skin for easier peeling and have an elongated shape with narrowed ends. You’ll find them all year-round in grocery store produce sections; four varieties exist: French red, pink banana and gray (commonly known as griselles). If unable to locate a shallot in store, white or yellow onions work as suitable alternatives when making recipes that call for these special vegetables.