silver, copper, or brass with pantry ingredients. Or my recipe for hair conditioner. Or the time I made my own deodorant. But not sore throat remedies. That one left a mark. Anyway, in furtherance of what one reader called my "anti-cool" status, I also enjoy studying nutrition and food science. I'm fascinated by health and healthy eating and do my best to avoid processed foods and chemicals. I said do my best. I'm not perfect, and I don't believe in boycotting fast food or major food corporations because theses companies have helped out many a harried mom put food on the table. And I certainly wouldn't push away a Citrus Kissed Thumbprint. Still, almost everything I make is from scratch because it's good for you and, at least for me, fun.
Also fun? Health food stores. Love them. I'm always more than willing to drop cash on the random bottle of subterranean purple rock salt that is fair trade and harvested by garden gnomes. But, since not everyone reads nutritional studies for fun, Andrea asked me to divulge my favorite random health food ingredients that I consider indispensable. Indispensable because, yeah, I'll admit that some of the stuff I buy goes on the never again list the second I get home and take a taste.
Of course I have quite a few products I love, but these are my favorites, the ones I buy repeatedly, and the ones you can easily fine online or in most health food stores and, in some cases, supermarkets and super-stores. They are what I use most often in my kitchen to build recipes and meals. They help make healthy food taste yummy.
My Favorite FourI don't know if you use table salt to season your food, but if you do, I recommend you give Real Salt a try. Table salt is loaded with chemicals, including dextrose, a form of sugar. Weird, right? Real Salt, on the other hand, is harvested in Utah and loaded only with 50+ trace minerals, including iodine. The taste is clean and mild.
For an all around seasoning mix, I use Herbamare. It's pretty much a blend of organic vegetables and herbs. I use it on anything that needs a kick, like salads or vegetables.
For salad dressings or recipes that call for vinegar, I will often use Dr. Bragg's apple cider vinegar. Actually, that's not true. I have a new favorite for salad dressings, so for now I add apple cider vinegar to my water. Sound crazy? It's actually a well known, well studied way to improve digestion and slow the release of sugar in the blood stream, which protects against diabetes and may promote weight loss. I add two teaspoons to a tall glass of water, but if you find it a bit sour (it's like lemon water) I know people who add a teaspoon or so of honey, too.
Up next is Nutritional Yeast, only my favorite thing, ever. It's a deactivated yeast that started off as a nutritional supplement decades ago. (It's high in B vitamins so vegetarians often use it.) But, because of its nutty/cheesy flavor, it morphed into a seasoning of sorts. I sprinkle it on salads, use it in dressings, add it to sauces, and--best yet--sprinkle it liberally on stove-popped popcorn. If you make your popcorn in the microwave, don't tell me. You'll crush me.
Here is a recipe for salad dressing using three out of four of the above ingredients from the book Becoming Vegan.
Just 2 tablespoons of this dressing provides 3.8g of omega-3 fatty acids (your days supply and then some) along with 40% of your B12 for the day. This creamy dressing is packed with riboflavin and other B vitamins - plus it's very tasty.
Liquid Gold Salad Dressing
1/2 c. flax seed oil
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. lemon juice
2 T balsamic or raspberry vinegar ( I use apple cider vinegar)
1/4 c. Bragg liquid Aminos or tamari
1/4 to 1/2 c. Red Star Nutritional Yeast Support Formula Nutritional Yeast
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. ground cumin
Blend until smooth. Dressing can be kept in a jar with a lid, refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 cups.
per T: calories - 78, protein - 1g, carb - 2g, fat - 7g, dietary fiber -0 .4g, sodium - 180mg
My Love of CoconutCoconut is one of those flavors that you love or scrape off your tongue with a scouring pad. I once had a reader say she hated coconut so much she could taste it even if it was the 38th ingredient listed. I get that, because I feel the same way about root beer, licorice, and anise. GAG.
But I don't feel that way about coconut. It's a healthy fat and a metabolism booster. I'm trying to coconut oil as my cooking fat, but it's expensive. I do not use it in salad dressings because it remains solid at room temperature. The brand I like the best is Nutiva. The flavor is mild and doesn't impart a coconut taste to your food, which is important when you're making tomato sauce.
I just today tried coconut flour. I had no idea it was so high in fiber and protein, and gluten free to boot.
Of course, I love young coconuts. Not the ones with the brown husk. The white ones you crack open with a cleaver. I blend the water and meat with a frozen banana and two cups of frozen pineapple. It's like a tropical drink, but full of electrolytes and minerals. Coconut water is great for keeping hydrated, and with this weather we're having, they'll have a permanent place in my fridge for a few months.
Coconut vinegar is my new love. It's very mild, like a champagne vinegar. It does not taste like coconut, but instead has a buttery flavor that does I don't even know what to avocados, but it's amazing. That's my favorite way to use it, by the way. I mash an avocado, sprinkle it with coconut vinegar, and use red pepper strips as edible spoons. It's perfect for the crazy heat we've been having!
Here is a recipe for gluten free coconut muffins that uses two out of four of the above ingredients.
Super Quick, Gluten Free, Coconut MuffinsAre you still there? I know. I told you found this stuff interesting! Well, if you made it this far, Andrea will reward you with a little something on point, I imagine. Good luck, and good health! :)
2 tablespoons coconut oil1/4 cup honey, or maple syrup (or mix them up)
1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 cup sifted coconut flour1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons dried shredded (or flakes) coconut
Preheat oven to 350 or 400 degrees F. Grease 6 muffin tins with additional coconut oil. Set aside.
In a small bowl beat eggs, coconut oil, and salt together. Combine coconut flour and baking powder together and whisk into batter until smooth.
Fill prepared muffin cups half-way with batter and sprinkle coconut on top. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.