Spice It Up!

Make mealtime magic, spark your standbys, and relish your recipes.
Published March 16, 2016

If you’ve spent any time browsing through the articles in our Food section you know that you don’t need lots of fat, sugar—or SmartPointsTM values—to make a meal come alive. Still, it’s easy to fall back on the same-old, same-old dishes: Chicken and broccoli on Monday, pasta and salad on Tuesday, pork stir-fry on Wednesday… you get the picture. 

Those standbys are  just fine—they’re easy, reliable, and good—but they'd be even better with a twist of tastes, maybe a new herb or spice. 
A good starting place: Sizzle chopped or minced fresh ginger, onion, and/or garlic in a pan with cooking spray or a little oil or butter. Aromatics like these add fragrance and flavour with scant or no fat. Acids such as mustards, lemon or lime juice, and wine will also wake up your palate—and expand your flavour palette! Mix and match 0 or 1 SmartPoints flavour enhancers and you'll have multiplied your options for creating mouthwatering meals. 

Try your hand at these quick, easy, and versatile ideas, and you’ll have a lineup of meal-making marinades, dips, sauces, or spice rubs. All are a cinch to make.

Tuscan tang 
Mix 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. This garlicky sauce makes a delicious marinade for chicken and red meat. Add a dollop to meats or steamed vegetables for extra flavour.

Double pepper purée 
1 roasted red pepper, a quarter of an onion, and ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes and salt. Try this mellow, spicy sauce on fish and chicken.

Moroccan spice 
Mix 1 tablespoon each cumin and cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of cayenne. Rub on chicken, fish, or meat before grilling.

Shortcut savoury 
Mix 1 crushed bouillon cube with 2 teaspoons lemon juice; rub on fish or chicken before grilling.

Aromatic herb 
Mince equal parts herbs (such as dill, basil, cilantro, oregano, tarragon, sage, thyme or rosemary) and aromatics (chives, leeks, shallots, onions). A squeeze of lemon or lime juice will brighten the flavour. Or, add a dash of hot pepper sauce for extra spiciness. Sprinkle on meats or mix into vegetables.

My oh mayo! 
Spice up low-fat mayo or plain yogurt with one or more of the pantry staples below. Spread it on sandwiches, grilled meats, fish, chicken, or vegetables. Thin it out with water and—voila!—you have a zesty dressing. 

  • Soy sauce and scallions
  • Wasabi 
  • Saffron and garlic
  • Roasted red pepper and parsley
  • Cajun spice mix and lemon juice
  • Capers and horseradish
  • Mustard and Worcestershire sauce
  • Basil and garlic
  • Dill and tarragon (great with chicken!)
  • Parmesan, extra-sharp cheddar, blue, or feta cheese. (These cheeses are very pungent so you need very little to spice up your food — about 1 teaspoon per 2 tablespoons of mayo or yogurt.

Rescue bored taste buds! 

Try our handy search function: Enter up to three ingredients in the search bar on the My Day page to turn up a bunch of recipes featuring those ingredients. For instance, chicken, ginger, rice yields this great recipe for Ginger-Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry with Rice.The secret spice-it-up ingredient? Chili paste! 6 SmartPoints values per serving.