The 8 condiments I can't live without

There are few worse things than boring food. You know you’ve been there. You’re TRYING to eat healthy, you buy all the vegetables, and then when you go to cook them, they taste lackluster (gasp), uninteresting (snooze), and bland (oh, my!).

This is a problem for many reasons, but most importantly consider this: it's money wasted. You’re either spending hundreds of dollars on food that isn’t pleasurable to eat (how sad), or you’re so bored with this food that you end up throwing it away (even more sad). Not to mention, this can potentially RUIN your entire experience of healthy food. Then when faced with a choice of healthy-supporting food or health-damaging food, you’ll almost always choose the latter.

Interested in taking the yuck out of healthy food? Keep reading...

Healthy food does not have to be complicated, hard to make, or boring. Healthy food is quite the opposite. Simple food is the best food, especially when it comes to batch cooking. Batch cooking is the process of setting aside time once a week to prepare simple, mix-and-match dishes that enable you to feel nourished during even the busiest week. One of the best ways you can bring variety and pleasure to your batch cooked food: condiments.

Condiments are almost as important as the main ingredients. They can make – or break – your entire meal. They help transform simple foods into new flavors without making things complicated. They are your go to secret ingredients that you can rely on again and again to create nourishing, exciting, delicious food with minimal effort. They are, in essence, the best thing ever.

Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need an entire cabinet full of 500 condiments. Even the world's top chefs rely on their tried and true most used pantry items in their home kitchen. By focusing on the condiments that are most delicious to you, you’ll prepare foods that are satiating, even more nourishing, and more exciting. In turn, you’ll save money, cabinet space, and all that time spent figuring out which flavors to add.

So if you want your home-cooked food to be more delicious (which is basically anyone with a pulse), then look no further, girl, I got your back! Here are my top 8 condiments I literally cannot live without.

  1. TAHINI
    • What it is: made from ground sesame seeds; it hails from the Mediterranean (it’s that nutty flavor in hummus and baba ghanoush).
    • Why: this flavor profile makes everything creamy and nutty, without actually adding dairy or nuts; sesame seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats, so adding this makes food taste good, and helps your body do what it needs to do to be healthy.
    • Uses: drizzle on its own over cooked veggies, salad, or cooked animal protein; add to hummus; or blend into a creamy dressing with lemon juice, garlic, and herbs.
  2. HOT SAUCE
    • What it is: depending on the brand, this is a sauce or paste made from chili peppers and some spices; my favorites are Sriracha and Frank’s (check for hidden sugars, as brands add this to offset the heat).
    • Why: this is the best way to add major flavor with little effort.
    • Uses: on anything savory, literally it’s that good.
  3. DIJON MUSTARD
    • What it is: ground mustard seeds and vinegar (check for hidden sugars, as brands often add this to offset spiciness).
    • Why: I love the subtle spice in the back of my mouth, without being as bold as
    • Uses: great as a simple dip for cooked chicken, burgers, or sausage; also a great addition to dressings in a blender or jar to help bind oil and vinegar.
  4. GIMASIO
    • What it is: a mixture of sesame seeds, seaweed flakes, and sea salt.
    • Why: this adds a great deal of flavor AND texture to the top of any savory dish.
    • Uses: over cooked grains, salads, and eggs.
  5. HIGH QUALITY OIL
    • What it is: FAT IS GOOD FOR US! Look for cold-pressed olive oils, unrefined virgin coconut oils, unrefined palm oil, cold-pressed avocado oil, and oil from your favorite nuts and seeds (pumpkin seed oil, flax oil, walnut oil, etc.).
    • Why: this is essential to brain function and how we break down the rest of our foods; and the higher the quality, the better the taste, making food that much more enticing.
    • Uses: great for dressings AND cooking with heat.
  6. VINEGAR
    • What it is: a highly acidic liquid in a variety of flavors – apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, brown rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc.
    • Why: adds balance and flavor to dishes – if something is too salty, a splash of vinegar will help balance it out.
    • Uses: in salad dressings or sauces, use 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar to make a hot lemon-water tonic, finish braised vegetables.
  7. RAW KRAUT
    • What it is: raw, unpasteurized vegetables, most often cabbage but also can be carrots, beets, cauliflower, or any other vegetable; look for this in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, often by the produce or eggs.
    • Why: the raw fermentation contains tons of healthy bacteria, which, when consumed, helps populate the digestive tract with good bacteria that will help break down food.
    • Uses: add as a garnish on top of salads, eggs, or any meal!
  8. TAMARI
    • What it is: made from fermented soy beans, this is the gluten-free version of soy sauce (soy sauce always has added wheat). If you are allergic to soy, try coconut aminos, which has a very similar salty and umami flavor.
    • Why: lots of flavor for little effort, great way to add saltiness without adding salt.
    • Uses: stir fries, combine with tahini to create an Asian dressing, add to nut butter with hot sauce to make a spicy Asian dipping sauce.

Now I want to hear from YOU! What are your favorite kitchen condiments? How do you keep your food from getting totally boring? Share your ideas so we can help each other cook more! I can’t wait to hear from you.

Happy & healthy,
Michelle