Personally, I love the taste of simple food sprinkle with a little somethin’. More often than not, I opt to add a bit of flavoring after the cooking or prep of the food is done so I can get a nice spicy, sweet, or salty hit followed by the pure and simple taste of what I’m eating. Here are some of my favorite toppings and how I use them….
Oh cinnamon, good ole’ cinnamon! It pairs so nicely with sweet or savory flavors, is warming to the body, has acclaimed medicinal qualities- and is delicious to boot! I love to sprinkle (or dump) my ground cinnamon on:
- Apples, bananas, or other fruit- normally accompanied by some kind of spread (tahini alert!)
- Hot cereal (rice, quinoa, GF oatmeal, millet, etc)
- Cold cereal (puffed rice or millet) with non-dairy milk
- In a fruit smoothie
Maple sugar is my newest addiction. It’s dehydrated maple syrup granulates, and is often used to replace sugar in baking. I haven’t actually done that- it gets spendy. Speaking of spendy, maple sugar is very expensive- however a little goes a long way in adding flavor to:
- Any hot grain cereal
- Cold cereal
- I bet it would be good on fruit
Paprika is a spice milder than chili powder but it still gives great color and a nice bite to any food. It is really delicious to sprinkle on:
- Cooked sweet potato
- Nuts, roast them with the paprika and you’ve got an addition!
- Leftover soup
- Anything else that could use a mild spice hit
Salt should not be forgotten! It’s gotten a bad wrap because of its damaging effect on health when eaten in excess. Well, yeah! You’d get way too much sodium if you were eating all fast food, prepackaged dinners, packaged snack foods, and pre-made seasoning and sauces. But when moderately used in a whole foods vegan (gluten-free) diet, it is really great. Now, I used to be a salt freak- I heaped it on everything. Everything. I couldn’t taste my food, only salt.
Then I got freaked out by all the “salt is bad for you” stuff and broke the habit, cleaning my taste spuds and awakening my senses to pure food. Salt is now a lovely addition to any food- and when a dish is deemed “perfectly salted” by my family I don’t enjoy it as much because it tastes salty to me. I honestly enjoy the taste of pure and simple food, just lightly seasoned with herbs or spices. However, I still love a little salt “hit” when I eat, so I cook little to no salt into my food (soups, sauces, stir-frys, etc) and then sprinkle on a little salt, with some black pepper or paprika, as the case may be, at the table. When I take a bite I have a bit of salt hit my tongue accompanied by the pure taste of my food. Delicious. Does that make any sense?
Black Pepper– freshly ground has the best flavor. I used to hate the taste of anything remotely spicy, including black pepper, but I am now a convert. I don’t use too much, just a light dusting on certain foods. I love it on anything that needs a light spicing up. Try this: cooked beans, warmed or not, with a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, and green onion. Yum!
Chopped green onion, chive, parsley, or cilantro is great to add color and flavor to any food- grains, beans, and especially Italian food. I also enjoy them added to wraps and on soups- heck, anything! Though I like to chop mine fresh each time, if you’re short on time, feel free to have a little bowl or jar of pre-chopped toppings to throw on your food. You won’t be sorry.