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Spice It Up


IN 2003, STACEY HAWKINS weighed almost 300 pounds. Overburdened with stress and tired of feeling mentally and physically out of shape, she decided to make changes in her diet. “I realized that the secret to making great-tasting, good food that didn’t leave me feeling bored, fat and frustrated was flavor,” Hawkins says.

After identifying the chemicals, preservatives and artificial ingredients used in most flavor enhancers, she created her own flavoring blends of herbs and spices. “One day, one of my friends told me she’d offer me 10 bucks for a bag of ‘the garlic stuff,’” she recalls. “Before I knew it, my product line had been born.”

Now 100 pounds lighter, the “Motivational Chef” offers her line of spices and seasoning mixes as a way for people to enjoy food more and feel better about themselves. Based in Newburgh, her preservative-free spice blends are designed to be used with fresh vegetables and meats to make even the simplest dishes delicious. Products include flavoring mixes like Toasted Sesame Ginger Blend, Kickin’ Cajun Seasoning, Cinnamon Chipotle BBQ Dust, Tasty Thai Blend and many more.

Hawkins, a CIA-trained chef and author of five cookbooks, encourages people to break out of “food boredom” by trying simple recipes and adding novel or unique flavors. To save time in the kitchen, she suggests taking 15 minutes to plan meals ahead of time. “Dinner can often be made in 20 minutes—but not if you don’t have a plan,” she says. Hawkins recommends working out a weekly schedule. “If you know Tuesday night is a late night, then you need to plan a meal that allows you to throw everything in the crockpot in the morning, so dinner will be ready when you come home.”

Spice mixes, flavorings, oils, cookbooks and other products are available at staceyhawkins.com.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!