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Monday, October 2, 2023

The Spice of Life

“Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor,” is a proverbial saying by the late 18th-century English poet William Cowper. However, in the case of Ryan Alarie, spices are his life and that spice comes in different varieties.

Alarie is owner and creator of RA Seasonings, signature spices that add flavor to your meals while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to Alarie, spices contain a high level of both salt and sugar in addition to preservatives such as silicon dioxide, modified cornstarch, MSG and maltodextrin. These chemicals can harm the body, especially the kidneys and the liver. Alarie is extremely cautious when ingesting anything with high levels of sodium, sugar and added chemicals. 

Alarie says that his family has a history of polycystic kidney disease and that in 2015 he donated one of his kidneys to his cousin in order to save his life. Since that time, he has had to switch up his diet and be more conscientious as to what he was putting in his body. “I worked in the fitness industry for a long time and was already health-conscious. I did not necessarily look out for salt and sugar at that time, but once I donated a kidney, I paid a lot more attention to it – so I can last a long time and not have to go on a transplant list myself,” he said.

RA Seasonings is all natural, low sodium, sugar-Free, gluten free, dairy free/vegan and is made from 100% herbs & spices. The product is fresher than store-bought brands, therefore it tastes better. “We specialize in bringing you bold fresh flavors to season your food with, but allowing you to eat and live a healthy lifestyle,” Alarie said.

Alarie likes to cook and has a passion for food. “I started by growing fresh herbs and vegetables in my home garden. I experimented for months to create seasonings that were full of flavor without all the sodium and fillers packed into other seasoning brands.” He says that he sources herbs from Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and California. “It’s based on availability, and things [herbs] grow better in different states, and our growth season in Arizona is not necessarily year-round. For example, there is not a commercial garlic farm in Arizona – that’s one of our biggest ingredients that we use. And we source Hatch chile from New Mexico.”

Currently RA Seasonings has 17 different blends and they release new flavors all the time. The newest is All Natural Greek, which contains garlic, onion, black pepper, dill, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, lemon granules, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon and sea salt. The most amount of sodium added to RA Seasonings is 60 mg, which is 3% of Recommended Daily Values based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Alarie explains that he taste-tests his spice blends to make sure that they work with food pairings. “I know flavor profiles and experiment a lot.  I have tried lots of things that don’t work. Recently, I tried a pesto that I thought was going to be dynamite and it didn’t hit the mark. We do four different versions and narrow it down to two. We want to see which one tastes better on the food, because when you cook, the spices could change the profile with food. I do a blind test – then my wife [tries it] and other people in the culinary field.”

And, which is his favorite so far? “The Zesty Garlic – it contains garlic, onion, lemon, lime, orange, black pepper and sea salt,” Alarie said.

Editor’s Note – For the holidays, if you like all things pumpkin, you may want to try the Pumpkin Pie. It contains pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, clove, and monk fruit. There is no salt or sugar added. Alarie tells us that he has added the Pumpkin Pie in a few cocktail recipes he created such as Pumpkin Martinis and coffee with Kahlua. Also, sprinkle the Pumpkin Pie spice on those baked sweet potatoes to add a bit of spice to your Thanksgiving dinner.

RA Seasonings can be found at farmer’s markets throughout Arizona, or can be ordered online at raseasonings.com.

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