Kelly and I seem to be on a bit of a wellness kick this week! I’ve taken to spending more time than usual in the kitchen lately and have been playing around with a few new (to me) ingredients in my recipes and snacks. These five have been pretty epic for various reasons and most definitely worthy of sharing with you.
1) Coconut Oil
I’ve been reading about the benefits of coconut oil for ages. The first recommendation came to me from a friend who suggested I use it directly on my face, mixed into my regular face cream. It makes a great body cream and lip balm, too. But forget its topical uses – I’ve been playing with it in the kitchen. Coconut oil has a higher smoking temperature than olive oil, making it a great oil to use for frying and other cooking at high temperatures. It can also be used a replacement for butter or shortening in your baking at a 1:1 ratio.
I’ve tended to use coconut oil in recipes where I think the subtle flavours will compliment the ingredients. Some ideas: in curries, on top of popcorn, as your oil when you make pancakes or french toast… the possibilities are endless!
2) Sea Salt
More natural? Yes. Less processed? That too. Less sodium? NO! I know sodium levels are of grave concern to many people, but we all love a bit of salt to augment flavours in the food we eat. I’ve been turning to sea salt lately for both the taste and the texture. The coarser grain packs a bigger punch and with all of the different varieties of sea salt, I really taste a difference in my food. I realize how pretentious this may come across, but so be it :) My favorites are grey sea salt the Himalayan pink sea salt.
Have I spoken about how I’ve banished nut butters from my home? I can’t think of many things I love more than peanut butter and almond butter, but moderation is a struggle. Sometimes it simply has to be all or nothing! After months of missing peanut butter in my life, I read about PB2. PB2 is made by slow-roasting peanuts and pressing them to remove 90% of the fat. What’s left is a powder made of peanuts. So maybe this isn’t the most natural, whole food I’ve ever eaten, but it is most definitely a less fattening way of eating one of my favorite things. Add a bit of water or almond milk and make a paste and dip your celery sticks and apple slices in it like you normally would with a nut butter. Add the powder to your oatmeal or your smoothie for all of the flavour but not all the fat.
4) Truffle Honey
I’ve tried a few brands of truffle honey and let me tell you: there is nothing more decadent. I first ate truffle honey with woody-flavoured cheeses like manchego and old cheddars, but most recently I had it on a multi-grain toast with ricotta, toasted walnuts and arugula and was blown away. Some other uses to serve as some food for thought: glaze a chicken breast, drizzle over prosciutto, creamy polenta or a baked sweet potato. One of the best ideas I’ve come across but have yet to try: add a few drops to a pizza slice with mushrooms.
5) Nutritional Yeast
Of all the ingredients on this list, nutritional yeast is probably my favorite. Nutritional yeast is anything but what you’d imagine. It is an inactive yeast (i.e. your food won’t grow or froth from its addition) that is sold in flake form. It is packed with vitamin B12 and is a complete protein that is great for people who are vegan or dairy-free. I’d describe it as having a cheesy or savoury flavour that lends well as both a staple ingredient in recipes and cooking or as a topping. I’ve been using it on popcorn, steamed veggies (especially broccoli and cauliflower), scrambled eggs, pasta and have used it to add a creamy texture to my soups without adding the cream. If you’ve tried the incredible miso gravy at Fresh restaurants in Toronto, the secret ingredient is nutritional yeast! I buy mine at bulk barn, but it’s widely available at health food stores, too.