Following is a list of ingredients that I commonly use in my cooking, along with links to recipes they are featured in.
(If you are wondering why there are gaps, it is because I lost patience with this page - after spending five hours on it - and have decided to move onto another one. Will continue it later)
(see here for more on my view of sweeteners)
Rapadura sugar: Derived from sugar cane, rapadura sugar is the most minimally processed sugar we have today. It has not been heat treated (as has only been subject to dehydration), bleached or chemically modified. It is low GI, so is suitable in moderation for people with diabetes, contains many vitamins and minerals and has a great caramel flavour.
Stevia: This sweetener is some ridiculous amount times sweeter than sugar, however, contains no energy (kilojoules). Stevia is a green herb, so you can imagine that the white, crystallised, stevia powder that you find commercially is a far cry from it’s natural form. Green stevia powder, is obviously preferable, but a lot harder to access. The benefit of stevia is that it does not strain your organs like processed sugar does, but is still not a chemical derived from the artificial land of laboratories.
Dates: These little babies may turn some people off by the mere sight of them, but well hidden amongst other ingredients they pack a sweet, sweet punch. Dates are extremely high in both types of fiber, as well as many vitamins and minerals including potassium and magnesium.
Molasses: Also derived from sugar cane, molasses is what is left after the sugar is extracted. The darker the molasses, the more minerals the syrup still contains. Molasses is supposed to be good for digestion and is high in potassium, magnesium and copper.
Maple syrup: The sap extracted from maple trees. Maple syrup is high in calcium, zinc and manganese. Maple syrup is classed as a raw food as it has not received any heat treatment.
Coconut oil: Being mostly made up of saturated fatty acids, coconut oil is quite controversial. But are saturated fats as bad as they are portrayed in the media and by (most) health professionals? There has been a lot of research conducted on coconut oil (which you can source here), of which most has been favourable. My belief is that it is important to look at the size/length of the fatty acid chain, rather than how saturated/unsaturated it is. Coconut oil (like most saturated fats) is a short-chain fatty acid. Short chain fats are easy to digest, so should not induce weight gain, are imperative for the immune system, assists with vitamin absorption among other benefits. Coconut oil does, obviously, have a very distinct taste so I reserve it specifically for baking/sweets or asian dishes.
Ghee: Read my post on how to prepare ghee, and all will be enlightened.
Spelt Flour: Is an ancient species of wheat, that has not undergone the same genetic modification that common wheat has been subjected to. Therefore, the advantage of using spelt is that it is a lot more easily tolerated than wheat while still having similar properties, so is an easy substitution. Spelt is not suitable for people with coeliac disease, as contains gluten. See my recipe for spelt pasta here.
Almond meal: Although not technically a flour, I use almond meal a lot in baking and sweet goodies.
Agar agar: Derived from some species of red algae, agar is an effective vegetarian substitute for gelatine. I prefer to avoid gelatine, and after many failed attempts have used agar agar in many of my recipes. To learn how to use agar see here.
Himalayan pink salt: Salt in it’s natural form ranges from pale pink to deep red in colour. The deeper the salt’s colouring, the higher the level of minerals present, including calcium, potassium and magnesium. Himalayan salt is supposed to be the purest form of salt available today, due to it’s low exposure to pollutants and chemicals.
Murray River Pink Salt: The Murray River is situated in South Australia, opening out in the Indian Ocean (so is still classed as a sea salt). From an early age, we all learn about the grave impact salinity has on Australia’s natural environment. Therefore, by using Murray River salt, in some small way we are also helping reduce salinity in Australia. Murray River salt is also minimally processed, so contains high levels of naturally occurring minerals.
Kefir: A culture containing a mixture of both yeasts and bacteria. Kefir ‘grains’ are the live form of the culture (you can also buy powdered), and are used by adding to milk or cream. Many of the health issues which arise today are attributed to an unhealthy gut and inability to properly digest nutrients. The advantages of using kefir is that you are increasing your ingestion of healthy bacteria and therefore helping to restore balance in your intestine. Also, kefir is supposed to improve immunity, and as it produces lactase in the fermentation process, it may be a useful option for people with lactose intolerance. See how to use kefir grains here.