Kitchen and Pantry Staples: because there are certain things no kitchen should have to live without when people are trying to be healthy!
As a health coach, I am asked quite often what ingredients I cook with and include in my smoothies, as well as which brands I trust. Everybody is different, so experiment to see which ingredients, flavors, and brands work best for your taste buds! Here are some of my favorite kitchen staples and why.
All my savory dishes are cooked in olive oil, and I love adding it to salads! When looking for olive oil, I try to make sure it is organic, cold pressed and extra virgin. Kasandrino’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my favorite because all their oil is sourced from organic farms in Greece. Some olive oils are blended with vegetable oil, or falsely label the origin, so be sure to read labels thoroughly.
When purchasing nut butter, I always stick with unsweetened and unsalted. I love Nuttzo because their nut butters are a blend of nuts and seeds which provides you with endless nutrients. Another brand I love is Artisana because they make a variety of raw nut butters – my favorites are the almond butter and coconut butter. No matter what brand you buy, opt for a jar that has nothing but nuts or seeds, and preferably raw.
Unsweetened Plant-Based Milk
I incorporate plant-based milks into my diet daily between coffee, smoothies, and baking. My favorites are Silk Unsweetened Cashew-Almond Milk or Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. These are great dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, and soy-free milk alternatives.
Unsweetened Plant-Based Yogurt
I love So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut Yogurt, Forager Unsweetened Cashewgurt, or Kite Hill Unsweetened Plain Almond Milk Yogurt. Since all these dairy yogurt alternatives have different nut bases, experiment to see which you enjoy the most! They all have different purposes for me. Some are perfect recipe thickeners, smoothie additives, or great in a bowl with fresh fruit! Unsweetened varieties are my favorite because you can always add fruit, maple syrup, or toppings if you desire later.
Black Seed Oil
I try to incorporate black seed oil into my routine daily. Black Seed Oil has properties known for immune stimulation, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-asthmatic, antimicrobial and anti-parasitic. I will either take a tablespoon with maple syrup or add it to my smoothies. I also apply it to my skin and hair weekly to keep my skin healthy and moisturized, and my hair strong and shiny. My favorite brand is Namaseed because it is organic and cold pressed. Be sure to read your labels!
High-Quality Protein Powder
I always have Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate and Vanilla protein on hand. I’ve been hooked on adding the chocolate flavor to coffee, and I also love making chocolate mousse or adding it to baked goods for added flavor and a protein punch. For all my fruity and creamy recipes, I use the vanilla flavor to thicken and accentuate the vanilla taste. They are also great just mixed with a cup of almond milk to refuel on the go!
These little seeds contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and fiber. I have been incorporating chia seeds into my diet ever since I read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall! Chia seeds form a gel when combined with liquid, and they are also great to add to any drink, smoothie, or dish to amp up the nutrients.
I always must have this lifesaver in the house! I love cooking sweeter dishes and baked goods with coconut oil as much as I love putting it on my skin and in my hair. A brand I love is Carrington Farms because it is organic, virgin, and non-GMO verified.
I love adding ground flax seeds to almost everything I make in the kitchen! Smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods, homemade protein bars… you name it. Flax seeds can also act as a great vegan egg alternative by combining 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Carrington Farms is a reliable brand that sells certified organic cold milled flaxseeds.
I make sure to always have fresh lemons in my refrigerator! I add lemon to my tea, morning and night, as well as for flavoring when cooking. Lemon juice is acidic, which is alkaline and detoxifying to the body. When possible, look for organic lemons.
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is great for digestion, immune boosting, and balancing blood sugar. I try to incorporate ACV into my diet daily. I add it to my tea and salad dressings. Since it has an acquired taste, it might be best for some people to start adding it slowly mixed with maple syrup. Braggs is my favorite; just make sure it is “raw unfiltered with the ‘Mother.’”
I am a firm believer that cinnamon makes everything taste better. I add it to my tea, coffee, smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods – just about everything. Cinnamon is great to stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol. Try to find a certified organic, ground cinnamon powder – I use the brand Simply Organic for most spices and herbs.
Chocolate is healthy! Raw cacao is a superfood high in antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. Be sure you get a raw and organic cacao powder – I like Navitas Organics. I also love to top smoothies and oatmeal with cacao nibs, and I use cacao butter to make homemade chocolate.
There is no hiding that avocado is one of my favorite foods. Avocado is a great source of fiber, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Whether its homemade guacamole or an avocado chocolate mousse, I incorporate avocado whenever I can. I love to use it as a smoothie thickener and to give some more texture to salads. I also love using avocado oil for salad dressings and adding the final drizzle before serving a dish. A reliable brand I have found is Primal Kitchen Cold Pressed California Avocado Oil.
This anti-inflammatory powerhouse should always be on hand! I love adding it to stir-fry’s, soups, and tea. I like the brand Simply Organic; just be sure to look for a brand that displays sourcing and is organic.