22 Flavorful Ingredients R.D.s Love for Big Flavor, Fast

Flavorful Ingredients R.D.s Love for Big Flavor, Fast

by Sue Jones
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Muffuletta mix

“As a lifelong cooked-bell-pepper hater, I never thought I’d be obsessed with this New Orleans Italian-style olive-pepper-carrot mix in oil. But my mom left a jar of it at our house by accident, and my husband couldn’t stop eating it. Once I tried it, I couldn’t stop either. I add it to my salads, eggs, sandwiches, even cooked dinners—it’s perfect with chicken! Pick some up at an Italian grocery store, or in the Italian section of large supermarkets. Spoon it over everything.” —Abby Langer, R.D.

Try it: That Pickle Guy Classic Olive Muffalata, $15, amazon.com

Garam masala

“Growing up in India, spices were an integral part of the cuisine. I use a combination of individual spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and bay leaves) to create unique flavor profiles for different dishes. I also make a unique blend of these spices, called garam masala, that adds a wonderful aroma and flavor to my dishes while minimizing added salt and sugar.” —Los Angeles–based registered dietitian nutritionist Vandana Sheth, R.D.N., Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes

Homemade salsa

“One of my go-to flavor enhancers is my mom’s salsa recipe. Not only does it remind me of home, but the flavors are complex, and the spice definitely wakes you up. I use it with eggs, ham and cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, or for a chips and dip situation in the afternoon. When I need something heartier, I broil tortilla chips with refried beans and shredded cheese, then add sour cream and the salsa on top. It’s divine!” —Certified intuitive eating counselor Carolina Guízar, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., founder of Eathority and cofounder of Latinx Health Collective

Lemon zest

“Lemon zest is my go-to ingredient to add a punch of ultra-bright, citrusy flavor. I find it to be even more ‘lemony’ than the juice of the lemon, and I add it to just about everything—the usual suspects like salad dressings and marinades, but also tomato sauces and salsas, or as a finishing touch on grilled meat. You’ll need a microplane for easy zesting, and of course, a stash of fresh lemons.” —Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and assistant professor and director of the undergraduate nutrition program at Saint Louis University

Green chile sauce

“Green chile is one of my go-to favorite sauces to smother foods in for a burst of flavor and a rich, spicy flare. Common in New Mexico and Colorado, it is best added to burritos, eggs, and veggies, poured over chips, or—my personal favorite—used to smother a hot sandwich. Made with green chiles and a blend of spices, it is authentic yumminess anyone will love. Two of my favorite products are both local to Colorado: Santiago’s Authentic Green Chile Sauce with Pork ($8, Instacart) and Stinkin’ Good Green Chile Sauce ($5, Instacart).” —Shannon Hughes, R.D., physician assistant, intuitive eating coach, and founder of the nutrition and weight-inclusive wellness group The Lifestyle Nutrition RD

Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

“My go-to seasoning blend is Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel, which includes dried minced garlic and onion, white and black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sea salt flakes. It’s the perfect mix of salty, garlicky, and nutty flavors, with a bit of crunch, that goes well with many foods. I quickly started using it as a rub for salmon, seasoning for roasted veggies, and garnish for avocado and peanut butter toast. Lately, I’m loving it as a topping on sourdough starter pancakes!” —Maxine C. Yeung, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., creator of The Wellness Whisk

Cumin and saffron

“I take full advantage of my pantry of spices—they add tons of flavor to my favorite meals! I especially love cumin and saffron. Cumin goes great in my rice meals, in addition to saffron. I also love cooking my proteins with saffron, which is full of aroma, and adds a beautiful color to any meal. Want a table full of taste, aroma and color? These two are cooking essentials!” —Yasi Ansari, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and assistant director of performance nutrition for U.C. Berkeley Athletics

Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos

“Coconut aminos are derived from fermented coconut tree sap, and may contain negligible amounts of minerals like potassium and magnesium. I use Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos ($10, Amazon) in just about any recipe where soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos could be used. In terms of the flavor profile, coconut aminos have a similar umami with sweet notes. I add them to garlic, onion, and chili pepper when making veggies, and also marinate seafood with them, along with ginger and dill. I love coconut aminos because they’re a lower sodium, flavorful option that can take a dish to the next level with one tablespoon.” —Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition, Good Morning America nutrition expert, and author of The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life

Nutritional yeast

“Nutritional yeast is a food-grade inactive form of yeast that can be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, or unfortified with the naturally occurring nutrient profile. The fortified versions of nutritional yeast are loaded with B vitamins—specifically B12, a nutrient that is very important for vegans and vegetarians. Both are a good source of protein as well as trace minerals. I put Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning ($8, Amazon) on everything, from popcorn to salad dressing to baked potatoes. The cheesy flavor is fantastic, and it can be used in any dish that calls for cheese.”—Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., C.D.N

Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce

“I love chili garlic sauce! It packs a great amount of heat and delivers more flavor than traditional hot sauces. It always puts the final touch on my favorite marinades and stir-fry sauces. It is also super-versatile. I love to add it to rice or mix it with other condiments to make regular foods a little less mundane. For instance, I mix it with soy sauce to enjoy with sushi. I also enjoy it combined with mayo to have on a sandwich. I really like Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce ($3, Amazon Fresh).”—Kimmie Singh, M.S., R.D. Body Positive Dietitian


“I love using tahini in both sweet and savory recipes. Tahini is a blend of sesame seeds and provides a nutty flavor profile to recipes. I love adding them to date-based energy bites for a sweet and energizing snack, as well as to savory recipes like hummus. Tahini is a versatile ingredient, so I like to experiment with it in curries, dips, and roasted veggies.” —Nazima Qureshi, R.D., M.P.H., registered dietitian and Muslimah Nutrition Expert

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