Shake up your kitchen with Chef Jamie Gwen / by Jasmine Tate

6 tips to spice up cooking routines

Photo courtesy of United Way, OC

Photo courtesy of United Way, OC

Part 3 of a women empowerment series hosted by United Way of Orange County gathered a diverse set of women over what Shari Battle described as the cocktail of interventions - food, health and shopping. Local, Global and Me, presented by Bank of America, is an annual initiative of Women United that joins women in the spirit of service, philanthropy, personal and professional development.

The evening began with appetizers, shopping and wine sipping followed by a cooking demonstration with Celebrity Chef and Radio Host Jamie Gwen and ended with a panel discussion on health.

Chef Jamie is known for her passion for food. In addition to publishing seven cookbooks she has also appeared on Food Network, Martha Stewart, Master Chef, Cutthroat Kitchen and more.

Those in attendance consumed food for thought, food for taste and several ways to enhance future meals on their plates including these six tips to spice up your kitchen.

Photo courtesy of United Way, OC

Photo courtesy of United Way, OC

1. Replace iodized salt with sea salt or Himalayan Sea Salt.

According to the Chef because iodized salt is too fine, it’s often overused. Cooking with the alternatives have health benefits and allow for more careful seasoning. She encouraged guests to find the salt they love and cook with it often.

Pro Tip: Discover your favorite salt(s) by hosting a salt tasting gathering complete with bread, olive oil and various salts.

2. Add tasting spoons to your prep station.

This practice will change the way you cook and the quality of the food you serve according to Chef Jamie. She advises those preparing meals to avoid serving food they haven’t tasted and approved.

3. Remove spices from storage near refrigerators, microwaves and stoves.

Although this tip may lead to reorganization, Chef Jamie assured guests that doing so would preserve the shelf life of spices leading to food with enhanced flavoring.

4. Update spices after six months to a year.

For optimal flavor in your food keep fresh spices. Implementing this practice often prevents cooks from stocking their pantries or spice racks with ingredients that won’t be used.

Pro Tips: Stock up on the spices used most frequently, shop as needed for others and share with family and friends.

5. Stop buying salted butter.

Did you know the butter in your refrigerator could have been sitting in a warehouse up to a year before making it to your grocery store? Chef Jamie advises using unsalted butter and adding your favorite salt to taste.

6. Add cinnamon, ginger and turmeric to your shopping list and common recipes.

With a double dose of approval from Chef Jamie and Dr. Mahtab Jafari, a professor and vice Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, this tip is known to provide benefits beyond enhancing food. According to Dr. Jafari’s research studies these spices can also expand your life and health span.

What spices in your kitchen do you use most often? Share below.

Check out a recap of the first session of the series on branding here. For more information on Orange County United Way, Women United or ways to get involved contact Amanda Hastings or visit

hugs & handshakes,

Jasmine C. Tate