I often get asked about what staple pantry items I keep in my own kitchen and what condiments I use and recommend. So, here I’ve put together a list with my top 10 favourite healthy pantry items, many of which I use daily! I’ll go into what’s good about them, why I love them and how I like to use them.
ACV is one of my favourite kitchen essentials and one I often recommend. I use it all the time for homemade dressings and vinaigrettes and also take it as a supplement mixed with water, as it is bursting with health promoting benefits. Apple cider vinegar contains beneficial acids (namely malic and acetic acid) that not only help improve our intestinal flora (good gut bacteria), but also support our immune system, and have anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that can help keep excess candida yeast at bay. Apple cider vinegar is also known to help break down mucus throughout the body and has a cleansing effect – hence why it is commonly taken during a detox. This too makes apple cider vinegar your new best friend whenever you’re fighting a blocked nose or sinus infection and you want to beat naturally! I like to take 1-2 tbsp diluted in a bit of water first thing in the morning or throughout the day. If you struggle with the taste (which isn’t one I would call pleasant, sorry) try mixing it with sparkling water instead as this somehow makes it a tad easier to drink. For a sore throat, simply garge a tablespoon or two for a minute or so a 2-3 times a day.
2. Raw Garlic
Garlic is one of the most amazing superfood around and has antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial properties. It is perfect for beating the common cold and has been a trusty side kick of mine during flu season for years now! It is especially great during pregnancy when you have limited options. It is a cornerstone in many cuisines, is versatile and full of health benefits – especially when eaten raw. I’m not a big fan of chewing raw garlic but cut it into smaller bits and swallow to minimise odour and taste. I also love adding raw garlic to my salad vinaigrettes, hummus and raw nut pates and highly recommend this fab garlic press.
3. Dulse Flakes
Dulse is a sea vegetable and the flakes are an amazing source of iodine and other minerals that adds great flavour to salads that isn’t too overpowering in taste. Dulse helps support a healthy thyroid function and therefore a healthy metabolism, and is great for the digestive system as well as gut, brain and liver function – making a sprinkle of dulse an amazing and easy way to enrich the nutritional value of a meal.
Wholegrain and dijon mustard are my two favourite types of mustard and I love how small amounts add so much flavour. I use them mostly to make up my own dressings, marinades and vinaigrettes. I recently found out that mustard seeds are actually part of the brassica family – and therefore related to vegetables like broccoli, cabbages and sprouts. Mustard seeds are like most other brassica’s rich in a variety of powerful antioxidants that help protect and promote healthy cells all round. And best of all, they’re free from the overload of sugar and sodium found in most commercial dressings and marinades.
Stevia is a super sweet herb and it is the best and healthiest sugar substitute around. It does not have any effects on our blood sugar levels, but I do, however, find that it has a slightly funky aftertaste (some people don’t notice this), which means I tend to use it in very limited amounts and often in combination with other natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup, raw honey and dates. That said, you’ll always find this gem in my kitchen pantry. My favourite use? To add a drop or two to one of my vegetable green smoothies if they need an extra touch of sweetness. I don’t tend to add much fruit to my smoothies so a drop or two of stevia and a lemon does the trick!
Chlorophyll is the green pigment in green vegetables. It is great for alkalising the body and also works as an internal deodoriser. It comes in liquid and powder form and I tend to go for the liquid (with a delicious mint flavour) as I quite like the taste and find it easy to add a few tablespoons to a large bottle of water to sip. I don’t always take this but it is a great way to get an extra health boosting food into your day, though this is in no way a substitute for eating green vegetables. Actual foods are always best!
Coconut is all the rage right now, and has been for quite a while! I love how heat stable and versatile it is, making it perfect for cooking, frying and baking as well as being an essential ingredient in most raw desserts. Best of all, it is super nutritious and also something I like adding to my smoothies and porridge for extra creaminess. Coconut oil is said to help reduce cravings, aid a healthy metabolism and is also amazing for the skin. I tend to keep a tub in the kitchen as well as a tub in my bathroom that I use as a moisturiser. Its that good!
8. Activated Nuts
Almonds & brazil nuts are among my personal favourites when it comes to nuts. They are satisfying, healthy and full of nutrients and fibre. Brazil nuts are especially high in the mineral selenium. In fact, just three brazil nuts a day provides your daily requirement of selenium, which is essential for a healthy metabolism and energy production. Almonds are versatile and full of beauty nutrients, such as biotin and vitamin E, and taste especially great when activated (or sprouted), which makes them easier to digest. They are also a great source of plant based calcium, great for making nut milk and gluten/grain free baking when ground into a flour. Activating you nuts is so easy and so worth it. For all the details on how to activate your nuts and why its good – read this post.
Nutrient rich, full of readily available protein… Nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins (some brands includes B12 as well), trace minerals and is a bioavailable source of complete protein, which contains all 18 amino acids. It is naturally free of dairy, soy, gluten and sugar, and contains no animal products. B vitamins help balance the myriad systems of the body, support healthy energy production, and can help decrease PMS, mood changes and irritability. B vitamins can also improve skin, nails and hair and is great for memory and brain function. And it has a naturally cheesy taste, which is the secret behind any vegan mac ‘n cheese sauce. It is easy to get creative with this ingredient and if you haven’t yet tried, go hunt down a tub asap. Its cheap, and so tasty.
Forget croutons. Toasted pumpkin seeds make the best salad topping ever! Toast them yourself on a hot pan or in the oven with a sprinkle of salt (optional). Then store them in a mason jar, ready to sprinkle on your next salad.