Why It’s Important To Try New Ingredients When You’re Cooking

Cooking is something special. Or at least, it should be. Although for some it’s a chore that just has to be done every day – multiple times a day in some cases – for others, it’s a joy, and when you get to that realization, it’s a wonderful thing. 

But to really make cooking something special you need to know that it’s not just about following recipes – you need to turn it into an adventure that allows you to really explore the different flavors you’ve got available, to think about different textures, and to basically tantalize the senses. 

How can you do all that? One of the easiest ways is to try – and experiment with – new ingredients when you’re cooking, and the more willing you are to do that, the more benefits you’ll get out of it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at why it’s important to try new ingredients when you’re cooking. 

Expanding Your Culinary Horizons 

Think about this for a moment: when you’re cooking, you’re limited to just a handful of ingredients every time. Now, as much as you might like those ingredients (they could even be your favorites), what would the outcome be? The outcome would be that all your meals taste – and probably look – exactly the same. How uninspiring is that? Yes, it’s good to be predictable at times, but all the time? That’s not a lot of fun for you or anyone you might be cooking for. 

Now, contrast that idea with having a pantry stocked with an array of exciting, exotic spices, fresh herbs, a variety of vegetables, and all kinds of different meats just waiting to be tried out and combined in thousands of different ways. Doesn’t that sound better? Wouldn’t that be amazing? You would have endless possibilities, and your meals would always be exciting and different. 

Of course, it probably isn’t all that likely that you’ll have an endless supply of fresh ingredients in the quantities we’re talking about, but if you can end up somewhere in the middle of these ideas, you’ll still have plenty to experiment with, especially if you commit to trying new ingredients two or three times a week (or whatever your budget can accommodate). 

Get All The Health Benefits 

Although the main reason for trying new ingredients when you’re cooking is probably going to be centered around flavor and perhaps creativity (which we’ll get to shortly), it’s also worth noting that there are some major health benefits that come with some food types, and if you can incorporate a range of healthy and diverse ingredients into your food, you’ll get to experience and benefit from a lot of them. 

A great example is nutrient-rich leafy greens like kale or spinach – incorporating these into your cooking means you can significantly boost how many essential vitamins and minerals you’re consuming (including vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and iron). These nutrients are absolutely crucial when it comes to staying healthy as they support bone health, boost your immune system, and even help to produce more red blood cells. 

That’s just one example, but there are plenty more. When you experiment with brand-new ingredients that you wouldn’t normally include in your cooking, such as plant-based proteins like lentils and tofu or quinoa, you’ll end up with an excellent alternative to animal-based proteins that give you the benefits of being lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, making them much better for your heart – if you never even tried them, you might not realize you can make them taste great and benefit your health at the same time. It’s always worth a shot. 

Then there’s the fact that despite what you might think, healthy food can be tasty too. What do we mean? Well, by incorporating aromatic herbs and spices like turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, and ginger into your food, you’re not only making it taste a lot more interesting, but you’re giving yourself a chance to be healthy too – surprise! Take turmeric, for example. Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Then there’s ginger, which is known to be good for digestion. Or what about the health benefits of jalapenos? As well as giving your food a hot and spicy kick, jalapenos can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and potentially aid in weight loss, all thanks to the fact that they contain capsaicin. 

By changing up your ingredient selection and including a lot more that you wouldn’t normally do, you can make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrients and ensure your long-term health is taken care of. 

Being More Creative 

You’ll find a lot of people suggesting that cooking is a kind of art form, and if you want to push that idea further, your kitchen (or wherever it happens to be that you cook) is your canvas. So what are your art supplies? What’s on your palette? That’s the ingredients, and if you want a stunning final result, you’ll need plenty of diversity and interesting things to cook with – using the same old things is going to mean your art is just a bit boring and certainly won’t stand out or be much to be proud of. 

The great thing about using more and more different ingredients is that each one brings something unique to the table – it could be the bold, smoky notes of chipotle peppers, or the tangy sweetness of fresh figs, or just about anything else in the world… but whatever it is, the flavor profile you add is going to (perhaps literally) spice things up for you and spark even more creativity as time goes on. In other words, you can absolutely, one hundred percent break free from the standard culinary conventions you might have been sticking to all this time (for what reason? It’s a good question!) and really let your imagination run free using new ingredients and perhaps even new cooking methods to make those ingredients shine as well. 

On top of this, using these different ingredients, some of which you might never have used before, could mean that you have to think outside the box a little more and push yourself out of your comfort zone – you can explore ideas from different cultures and make fusion food, for example, which will be unique and, hopefully, delicious too. 

There’s Joy Linked To Discovery

It’s good to find joy in life as much as you can, and that means looking at the little things as well as the big ones. In this case, those little things could definitely be new and exciting ingredients. You could stumble on a new fruit you’ve never tried before at a farmers’ market, or you might step into a specialty store and get to sample some items before choosing a range to take back home with you. It’s all about the hunt and the fun of finding new things, so don’t be afraid to do it. True, you might come away empty-handed, and the samples you try might not be all that tasty, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. 

It’s important to remember that the joy of discovery – that thing we already know is a great way to get more out of life – isn’t just about finding new ingredients; it’s really about the entire experience, from beginning to end. So from the very first moment you get some inspiration from a new set of ingredients (or even just one flavor) to the moment you serve the dish that came from those ideas, the entire thing is all about learning and exploring, and you’ll get a lot out of it if you think about things in that way. 

And something else to think about is that the joy of discovery isn’t just limited to the kitchen (or shouldn’t be, anyway). It can actually spill over into every part of your life, making everything so much better for you and your loved ones. You’ll get a much better and deeper appreciation for the world around you, and that’s priceless. The fact that it can all come from what might seem like a simple hunt for tasty new ingredients is astonishing, but it’s true nonetheless. 

Better For Your Budget 

You might think that trying all these new foods will be expensive, and that your budget is going to suffer as a result, but it could be the opposite – it might be that one of the reasons it’s so important to try new ingredients when you’re cooking is that you can save money – sometimes, at least. 

If you start looking at the prices of things in the grocery store, you might discover that some items are a lot cheaper than the ones you’re currently using – and they’re new. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re still buying quality food that tastes good, but what if those cheaper ingredients added something great to your cooking and saved you money at the same time? 

One way to try this out is to go to the store with a very strict budget in mind and only buy items that fit within it. You might have to do some compromising on what you would normally buy, and that’s when you’ll end up with new ideas and creative thoughts about putting these ingredients together. Trying this idea could be the best thing you’ve ever done in terms of your food and your bank balance. 

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