Tag: gluten-free pantry

How To Stock A Healthy Pantry: 11 Sweet Treat Staples & Baking Basics (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

Nom nom seductive raw chocolate fudge...one of my many yummy sweet treats!

Nom nom seductive raw chocolate fudge…one of my many yummy sweet treats!

When we think of “eating healthy,” images of carrot sticks and rice cakes often come to mind.

I hope that through reading this blog, you’ve come to expand your view of healthy food and how delicious, fun and exciting it can be!

One of the philosophies that shapes my approach to eating, cooking, and baking is the concept of “upgrading and crowding out.” By eating more of the good stuff that nourishes, energizes and heals us, we naturally have less room for the stuff that doesn’t.

In today’s post I want to share some of the staples we always have on hand for all of the sweet treat recipes I prepare (that my hubby loves oh so much!).

As I mentioned in my previous post about my top 10 (gluten-free, dairy-free) pantry essentials, don’t feel like you have to go out and get ALL of these tomorrow.

Just try one at a time – maybe pick a recipe that sounds good that you’ve never made before using that ingredient and see how you like it! You won’t know until you try 🙂

My Top 11 Gluten-free, Dairy-free Sweet Treat Staples & Baking Basics

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Medjool Dates

Why I Love Them: They’re loaded with “keep it movin’ & fill-you-up” fiber as well as dozens of healing, protective, anti-aging, anti-cancer vitamins and minerals (click here for the full scoop on their health benefits!). Not to be confused with “Deglet” dates, which are waxier in texture, Medjool dates are more versatile and flavorful. Dates have become my primary way to sweeten most recipes, as they give sweets a caramel-like texture and flavor…and I LOVE caramel anything. Deglet dates (the ones you’re most likely familiar with) don’t have the same caramelizing effect.

How I Use Them: First and foremost, make sure you remove the pit! All Medjool dates have pits, so squeeze them open, and take it out before using or eating them. I use dates in a lot of recipes: caramel apple dip, healthy donut holes, homemade fudgesicles, dairy-free cheesecakes, chocolate avocado mousse, and almost every smoothie.

One of my favorite snacks is to take a date, split it in half and stuff it with almond butter or peanut butter. You don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t tried this little bite of caramel bliss!

Where to Find Them: I get a big container of Medjool dates from BJs Wholesale Club, as I’ve found that to be cheapest route to go. Trader Joe’s sells them at a pretty decent price, too. You can also get a good deal on them from Nuts.com (worth ordering something JUST to get the super cool, catchy and creative packaging they use!). Most grocery stores carry them, too – some in the dried fruit section and other stores in the produce section.

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Cacao Powder

Why I Love It: It has more antioxidants than any other food…and gives many of my desserts their chocolate taste! Cacao powder isn’t treated by heat (and therefore damaged) like the more familiar cocoa powder, so its supercharged, health-boosting, disease-fighting antioxidant properties remain intact. Buy it raw and, ideally, organic.

How I Use It: Great in raw or cooked desserts. Try my hubby’s favorite Peanut Butter Cup smoothie or Chocolate-Covered Strawberry smoothie, Chocolate Avocado Mousse, Fudgesicles, Divine Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip, No-Bake Chocolate Fudge, Homemade Rolos, or 2-minute peanut butter chocolate ice cream.

Where to Find It: Wegmans, Whole Foods, and any natural food store like MOMs Organic Market. We get ours online through Amazon Prime. I’ve found that it’s cheaper to buy it on Amazon or Vitacost instead of at the store, unless it’s on sale. This is another product that Home Goods has sometimes, so check out their pantry section the next time you’re there to see if they have it.

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Flaxseed/Flaxseed Meal

Why I Love Them: Known for their anti-inflammatory, disease-preventing, and fat-fighting (AKA GBOMBS!) properties, flaxseeds keep our brain, heart, and joints healthy due to their Omega-3 fatty acid content. Since our body doesn’t produce Omega-3 fatty acids on its own, we need to make sure we’re incorporating them into our diet. Flaxseeds have a nutty flavor and are loaded with fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar (a key to staying energized!), keeps us feeling fuller, and promotes healthy digestion. Flaxseeds are also a great anti-PMS food because of the lignans they contain, which help balance our hormones.

If you buy the whole seeds make sure you grind the seeds before eating them or they will pass through your body undigested.

How I Use Them: You can create something called a flax egg and use it as a substitute for whole eggs in certain recipes. I put a couple of teaspoons of flaxseeds in my morning smoothies, including this seasonal Pumpkin Pie Smoothie and Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie Shake and use it in other sweet treat recipes, including Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Walnut Brownies, and No-Bake Fig Newton Bites. Remember, all of these recipes are also gluten-free and dairy-free!

Where to Find Them: Most of the major grocery stores, every health food store, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Wegmans all sell flaxseed. I’ve also had luck finding them in the food section of Home GoodsAmazon, Vitacost and Nuts.com are always options as well!

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Raw Nuts (especially Walnuts, Almonds & Cashews)

Why I Love Them: Dr. Joel Fuhrman, one of the most respected nutrition experts in the world, classifies nuts as one of his GBOMBS foods (the second “S” stands for seeds and nuts) for their anti-inflammatory, anti-fat storage, disease-fighting compounds. They are a great source of heart, brain & joint health-supporting fats and contain fiber and protein to keep us feeling full and satisfied. Buy them raw/unroasted because they take on different flavor when roasted that changes the taste of a dish (especially cashews) .

How I Use Them: In a LOT of recipes! You can toss a few teaspoons in to your morning smoothie, sprinkle them on top of a salad or a jar of overnight oats, toast them and add them to sautéed vegetables or greens. If you have trouble digesting nuts, try soaking them in water overnight before adding them in to dishes, as that makes them easier to digest.

Here are links to recipes on the blog that uses each kind of nuts:

Cashews: These are one of my MAIN sources of making desserts, smoothies, and even cheesecake taste creamy, decadent and satisfying without using dairy! The key is buying raw cashews and usually soaking them in water overnight. Try these recipes: My FAVE parmesan cheese substitute – Paleo Parmesan Cheese, Caramel Apple Dip, Dairy-Free Nacho Cheese Sauce, Mini-Cheesecakes (DECADENT alert!), and Peaches ‘n Cream Smoothie.

Walnuts: Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Homemade Donut Holes, Simply Amazing Chocolate Walnut Brownies, Upgrade Kale Waldorf Salad, Zucchini Basil Pesto, and No-Bake Fig Newton Bites.

Almonds: Quinoa Almond & Apple Potluck Salad, Garlicky Lemon Green Beans, Ooey Gooey Berry Peach Crisp, Dairy-Free Cheesecake Crust, Donut Holes and Fig-Newton Bites.

Where to Find Them: All grocery stores sell them, but Trader Joe’s and Nuts.com appear to sell them cheapest. Wegmans also sells big containers of raw nuts, and I just got a giant container of raw cashews there that will last awhile! I store all of my seeds and nuts in glass jars in the fridge to prevent the oils in them from going bad.

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100% Pure Maple Syrup (Grade B)

Why I Love It: We’re not talking about the super processed Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima stuff you grew up pouring on pancakes. Those maple-flavored syrups contain lots of highly processed sugar called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other chemical additives as well…basically not real food ingredients. 100% pure maple syrup has a darker color and richer flavor but also has some minerals and antioxidants intact. Keep in mind that it’s still sugar, which is something we should limit our intake of, but on a scale of “good, better, best,” it’s a better choice than pure white table sugar. Click here for the full scoop on maple syrup from Authority Nutrition.

How I Use It: In addition to raw honey, we use maple syrup as our primary sweetener in sweet and savory recipes. It has turned a Brussels sprouts hater into a lover with this recipe, and I’ve used it to sweeten everything from decadent chocolate mousse and Peanut Butter Bliss balls to the sweet and tangy dressing for my favorite kale salad.

Where to Find It: Every grocery store sells 100% maple syrup, but I’ve had to look a little harder to find the good Grade B kind, which is deepest in color and flavor and best for baking. I usually buy a 32-ounce jar at MOMs for about $14 (see picture above!). It lasts for several months, so I don’t mind spending the money. Trader Joe’s also sells Grade B syrup.

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Coconut Milk (Unsweetened, Canned)

Why I Love It: Since cutting out dairy, I’ve had to find alternatives to cow’s milk, and this stuff is a great option. Coconut milk is rich, creamy, and incredibly satisfying. It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned by the body as fuel. MCTs are especially beneficial because bile acids (which we usually need to break down fats) aren’t needed to digest them.

How I Use It: In SO many recipes from one of YOUR favorite recipes, the Set-It-And-Forget-It Comfort Food Casserole, to fudgesicles, frittatas, dairy-free cheesecakes, and coconut whipped cream. Coconut milk gives food a really deep, rich flavor and adds a nice creamy texture to any dish. We always have a few cans in our pantry!

Where to Find It: Every grocery store sells coconut milk, and you can find it at stores likes Target, too. It’s usually in the international foods aisle or in the natural foods section. Buy the canned stuff (not the coconut milk in the refrigerated section of the store). The best brand to buy is Native Forest because their cans are BPA-free. BPA is a chemical found in the lining of canned foods that makes its way into the food, so whenever you buy canned goods look for the words “BPA-free.” Also, buy the full fat kind. You can always thin it out yourself with water if you prefer it thinner. Check out this post by Chris Kresser for more info on coconut milk…even how to make it yourself!

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Shredded Coconut AND Coconut Flakes (Unsweetened)

Why I Love It: I should start by saying I used to HATE coconut. Yup, whenever I got those little Almond Joys or Mounds in my trick-or-treat bag as a kid, into the trash they went. It’s only been in the past 3-4 years or so that I’ve taken to coconut in all forms, but I use it in lots of recipes. See the info in the coconut milk blurb above, but also know that shredded, unsweetened coconut is a healthy, natural sweetener to use in recipes because it won’t spike your blood sugar like white sugar will. Coconut also contains high amounts of two fatty acids that have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-septic and anti-fungal properties.

How I Use It: Simple ways to use shredded or flaked coconut are to toss it in with some homemade trail mix, onto your overnight oats, or into your morning smoothie, or even toast it and toss it onto a salad. I use shredded coconut in my kid-friendly healthy donut holes and Caribbean island breeze smoothie.

Where to Find It: The brand I recommend is “Let’s Do Organic.” You can find it at Wegmans, Whole Foods, MOMs Organic Market, any natural food store, or online at Amazon, Vitacost, and Nuts.com. They sell shredded coconut at every grocery store (usually in the baking aisle or health food aisle) and also at places like Target – just make sure you buy the unsweetened kind!

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Raw Almond Butter (Creamy, Unsalted)

Why I Love It: This has been a staple in our pantry for years, and we always keep several jars on hand. Almonds are a great source of protein, healthy fats (food for our brain, skin, heart, and joints!), as well as several other vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin E, and manganese. It’s best to buy almond butter in its RAW form, which means it hasn’t been heat-treated to high temps and is closest to its natural form (AKA blended almonds).

How I Use It: I love this stuff! I’ll add a tablespoon to my morning smoothies for some creaminess, use it in my Gluten-free Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, No-bake Chocolate-covered Cookie Dough Bites, Healthy Donut Holes, Berry Quick Overnight Oats, and Raw Almond Butter Cups. To avoid the oil-dripping-over-the-sides-headache when you first open it, store the jar upside down when you first bring it home. When you’re ready to use it, open the jar and stir – the oil will already be partially blended, which will save you from a giant mess!

Where to Find It: By far, the BEST place to buy raw almond butter at the lowest price is Trader Joe’s. About a year ago, I got word that they were discontinuing it and switching manufacturers…and subsequently bought 8 jars of it, thinking they would be my last. Fortunately, they didn’t discontinue it! Yay! Trader Joe’s raw almond butter sells for $3-$7 less PER JAR than almost any other raw almond butter out there. In other words, it’s worth the trip to TJs to get this stuff.

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Rolled Oats

Why I Love Them: Oats are most known for their high fiber content and its ability to help remove cholesterol from our digestive system that would otherwise end up in our bloodstream. The fiber content in oats also helps stabilize blood sugar, which directly translates into how energized we are (stable blood sugar = stable energy). Oats also contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that give our body the nutrients it needs. For all of those reasons, oats have been tied to healthier hearts, reduced risk of disease like diabetes and cancer, and more stable energy. For information about all of the health benefits of oats, click here.

How I Use Them: I use oats most commonly in breakfast foods like these berry and pumpkin pie overnight oats as well as to thicken drinks like this PB&J smoothie, make a crust for this berry peach crisp, or in these decadent Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

Where to Find Them: I buy a big bag of gluten-free rolled oats at Trader Joe’s and they last me a long time. Oats have a high likelihood of being “cross-contaminated” by wheat because of where they’re processed, so be careful when selecting oats if you’re sensitive or allergic to wheat. You can find rolled oats (NOT instant or quick oats) at any grocery store or online at Amazon or Vitacost.

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Coconut Flour

Why I Love It: Since we cook and bake without using gluten (found in traditional white and wheat flours), this stuff really comes in handy. Not only is coconut flour gluten-free, it’s also a good source of dietary fiber, safe for diabetics (won’t spike your blood sugar!), high in healthy fats and packed with protein. For even more info about why you should get to know this ingredient, check out this article from Food Matters about the Health Benefits of Baking with Coconut Flour.

How I Use It: In baking recipes. It’s NOT a 1:1 substitution for regular flour, so be sure to follow recipes when you start using it. Most paleo recipes (i.e., no beans, grains, dairy, or refined foods) use it as the primary baking flour in addition to almond flour (another great choice for your pantry!). I used it in these Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes, these decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Balls and in a pumpkin muffin recipe I will be posting later this week!

Where to Find it: This stuff is popping up at more stores each day. Trader Joe’s sells organic coconut flour for $2.99/bag, so that’s where I’ve been getting mine. Whole Foods, Wegmans and MOMs or Roots will carry it, as will any natural food store. I’ve started seeing it in the more mainstream grocery stores in the gluten-free aisle. You can also order it online at Amazon, Vitacost, or Nuts.com. I’m also a big fan of having almond flour on hand, so check out those same places to buy almond flour.

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Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Why I Love Them: These are one of the most “processed” foods we keep around the house. I like them because they’re 1) allergy-friendly (no wheat/gluten, dairy, peanuts, soy, eggs, tree nuts), 2) not genetically modified, and 3) don’t have artificial anything. The only ingredients are unsweetened chocolate and cane sugar (yay for 2 ingredients!) vs. Nestle morsels, which contain Sugar, Chocolate Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors. I’m all about “upgrading” recipes and finding better alternatives to common foods that we love.

How I Use Them: I might use them in a recipe once a month – again, sparingly – but it’s nice to have an option when a recipe calls for chocolate chips 🙂 I used them in just about every recipe featured in my 5 Favorite Sweet Treats post as well as in Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Balls, No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites, the Easiest Chocolate Chip Cookies You’ll Ever Make, AND in one of the best recipes I’ve ever made – Mini Deliciously Dairy-Free Cheesecakes!

Where to Find Them: In the gluten-free or baking section of Wegmans, Target, MOMs and Whole Foods. I’ve found them cheapest at Wegmans or at MOMs if they are on sale or I have a coupon. Use this link on their website to find which stores sell them near you.

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How to Stock a Healthy Pantry: My Top 10 Everyday Essentials! {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free}

This post has been a long time coming, so I’m super excited to finally publish it!

A few of you have asked if I could put together a list of pantry items that I always have on hand and use frequently in recipes.

I’m going to be doing this a few times over the next few weeks starting off with two rounds of Everyday Essentials as well as Baking Basics, Smoothie Staples, and Herb & Spice It Up. All of these items will be gluten-free and dairy-free because that’s how I cook, and when I eat that way, my body feels its best and my skin glows 🙂

I could just give you a simple list of 10 items, but one of my goals is to get back to WHY eating these things is so good for us, rather than just “telling” you what to buy, so for each item, I’ll share:

  1. Why I love it
  2. How I use it (including all the recipes I’ve posted using that ingredient)
  3. Where you can find it

You don’t have to go out and buy all of these things tomorrow. Maybe add one or two a week to your grocery list and work up to having most or all of them on hand.

Remember, the health journey is a marathon, not a sprint!

I would love to hear your feedback about this post, so please take a moment to comment if you find this to be helpful!

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Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Why I Love It: I dedicated an entire post to ACV, so you can head over there to learn all the details about why I love this ingredient so much. In general, it supports healthy digestion, clear skin, and knocks out just about any incoming cold. My dad calls it “the concoction” and uses this detox drink at the first sign of a sniffle.

How I Use It: I use it as a staple ingredient in this salad dressing and this one, as a “splash” to cut the bitterness of sautéed greens like kale, collards, spinach or just drink it with a straw in a detox drink. One of my college professors now swears by the ACV detox drink for her family. I had the privilege of doing lots of research with her as an undergrad and she really encouraged me to pursue my passion for nutrition.

Where to Find It: The kind you buy is VERY important. You want to buy Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with “The Mother.” It has all the tummy-friendly enzymes in it that we want that the heat-treated, pasteurized versions of ACV lack. Most grocery stores sell Bragg’s ACV these days (I saw it at Safeway the other day), but I find it cheapest at MOMs Organic Market. You can also find it at Whole Foods, Wegmans, any natural food store, Health Food Online from Wholesome Hub or online at Vitacost and Amazon.

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Tahini

Why I Love It: Tahini is basically just a fancy name for sesame seed butter. It’s one of the main ingredients in hummus and makes salad dressings creamy. It’s a rich source of key minerals and healthy fats that our body needs to maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, and it’s higher in protein than most nuts. Check out this article about the top 10 reasons to add tahini to your diet.

How I Use It: Whenever we want to make a creamy salad dressing, we use tahini. It’s one of the key ingredients in our favorite kale salad and in this beautifying detox salad. You also use it to make hummus.

Where to Find It: You can usually find it in the international aisle at your grocery store. Otherwise, check out an ethnic grocery store near you or go to Wegmans, MOMs or Whole Foods. They all carry it. It’s also available online (like everything else these days!), so check out Amazon or Vitacost. We get ours from a little Mediterranean Café in Towson called Cedar Cafe because it’s cheapest there AND tastes the best (the one in the picture above).

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Tamari

Why I Love It: It’s a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, so it typically does not contain wheat. Check out another blogger’s post about the differences between soy sauce and tamari. Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, barley and rye that is often found in condiments, so if you’re eating gluten-free, you can still have the flavor of soy sauce by using tamari. Even if you don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance, you may find that you have fewer issues with bloating and other digestive annoyances when you remove gluten. Check out this blog post from one of the world’s top nutrition experts about going gluten-free. To avoid soy AND gluten, you can also use Coconut Aminos instead of tamari (surprisingly, they don’t taste like coconut!).

How I Use It: Whenever you would usually use soy sauce. We use it in salad dressings (including our favorite kale salad) along with these other recipes: Beautifying Detox Salad, The Ultimate “Noocho” Cheese Sauce!, and in these walnut tacos. We also use it whenever we make stir fries, so stay tuned for a simple stir fry recipe in the next 2 weeks!

Where to Find It: In the Asian food section of the grocery store, sometimes in the international aisle. Every grocery store I’ve been to sells it. If you opt for coconut aminos instead, you can find them at any natural food/health food store, Wegmans, Whole Foods, or online at Vitacost or Amazon.

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Coconut Oil

Why I Love It: For years, it has gotten a bad rap because of its high saturated fat content, but coconut oil contains a different kind of fatty acid that your body is more likely to burn as energy (without spiking your blood sugar) vs. store as fat like most other oils. It also has a higher smoke point and is heat stable, so it’s a better option for cooking (we use it instead of olive oil, which is more delicate and heat-sensitive). Not only that, but the lauric acid in coconut oil can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, helping to prevent infections and illness. Check out this post about coconut oil’s benefits from Kimberly Snyder, one of my favorite nutritionists.

How I Use It: Coconut oil is one of the most versatile items in our pantry. Whether I’m using it to saute or roast vegetables, make a crumble topping for a fruit crisp, glazed roasted peaches, firm up seductive raw chocolate fudge, create a chocolate shell for raw cookie dough bites OR moisturize my skin or lips, coconut oil is a must-have in our kitchen (and bathroom!). Read this article from Wellness Mama about 101 uses for coconut oil.

Where to Find It: We buy ours either online at Vitacost or Amazon OR wait for the sales at Whole Foods or MOMs Organic Market. I’ve also had some great coconut oil finds at Home Goods in their pantry section. Most grocery stores sell it these days, and I’ve even seen it at BJs Wholesale Club, so check out any of the stores above or your wholesale club for the best deal on coconut oil! Look for organic, unrefined, extra virgin, cold-pressed as keywords for the highest quality coconut oil.

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Raw Honey

Why I Love It: Raw honey is not treated by heat (which is why it is solid vs. runny and amber-colored), so it contains lots of health-promoting, illness-preventing, beauty-boosting nutrients that the commercial bottled bear honey lacks. In addition, locally produced raw honey often contains little bits of local pollen that can actually help with your seasonal allergies!

How I Use It: From salad dressings and cupcakes to raspberry lime popsicles, chia jams, and honey mustard sauce, we use this ingredient a lot! I try to use it most often in raw (uncooked) preparations because exposing it to high heat destroys a lot of the enzymes. I just find that I like the taste of raw honey better than the bottled bear stuff, so it’s become my go-to for honey in general. Here is a link to all my recipes that use raw honey.

Where to Find It: You can find raw honey at any natural food store, Wegmans, Whole Foods, MOMs and sometimes at farmer’s markets as well as online. This is the kind we buy (pictured above).

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Vegetable Broth

Why I Love It: It’s a great way to add flavor to food and is something we always have on hand in the fall, since we like to make soup, especially when we have veggies to use up and nothing else to do with them. It’s versatile and flavorful.

How I Use It: I use it as the base for most soups (can’t wait to share soup recipes this fall and winter!). I also use it as an oil-free way to sauté or cook down vegetables on the stove. You can use it as an alternative to butter or oil but need to add enough to prevent your food from sticking to the pan, so add as you go. I also add a few splashes of it in with greens (kale, Swiss Chard, spinach) when I’m sautéing them on the stovetop to help them cook down.

Where to Find It: UPDATE! I’ve found that it is SO much easier and A LOT cheaper to make my own vegetable broth from vegetable scraps I would have otherwise thrown away. Check out the simple process here for how to make your own vegetable broth.

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Lemons/Bottled Lemon Juice (Santa Cruz)

Why I Love It: In an ideal world, I would buy 5 pounds of lemons every week and squeeze out the juice as I go, since I use it in so many recipes. But, sometimes convenience prevails, and that is definitely the case with bottled lemon juice, which is always always in our fridge.

**I used to buy the lemon juice in the green bottle AKA “Real Lemon” but it turns out there are way more ingredients in it than just lemon juice, so I stopped buying it. It’s not the same as squeezing juice from a lemon, so opt for the Santa Cruz bottled kind instead if you’re making a recipe that calls for fresh lemons (or use the whole lemon!).

How I Use It: Mixed in with slightly warm water and a pinch of cayenne to get things moving in my morning detox drink, in smoothies (it helps break down oxalates in greens like kale, which get in the way of calcium absorption), and in everything from salad dressings and frosting to creamy, dairy-free cheesecakes and homemade pesto.

Where to Find It: In the bottled juice section of specialty food stores like Wegmans, MOMs, Whole Foods, and other natural food stores. Or just buy whole lemons. Every grocery store sells those!

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Nutritional Yeast

Why I Love It: Aside from its pretty awful name (can we opt to change it to “Nooch”?), this stuff is great. Since removing things like cheese, milk and cream from my diet, this ingredient, which is loaded with energy-boosting B vitamins, has been a lifesaver for me when I want to give foods a cheesy taste without using cheese. I wrote an entire blog post dedicated to nutritional yeast, so check that out for the 411.

How I Use It: Sprinkle it on popcorn, use it to make the BEST paleo parmesan cheese substitute (coming from someone who used to buy parm cheese by the family-sized container), noocho cheese sauce, pesto, and one of my favorite beauty detox salads.

Where to Find It: Every health food store sells this stuff, as do Whole Foods and Wegmans. You can also find it online at Vitacost or Amazon. I bought it the first time in a jar (above) and now I just get refills from the bulk foods section at MOMs Organic Market. It’s super cheap!

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Beans

Why I Love It: Beans are one of Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS foods, making them one of the top anti-fat, anti-cancer foods we can eat. They are full of soluble fiber that keeps us energized and full for a long time (lentils fill me up longer than any other food!). According to one of my favorite nutrition experts, they “act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety (fullness) and helps to prevent food cravings.”

While it’s best (and cheapest!) to cook dried beans yourself, this is another situation when convenience wins out, so we usually opt for the Eden Organics line of canned beans. We always have black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, and pinto beans on hand. Eden’s Aduki beans tend to be more easily digested than other beans, so they’re a good one to start with if you don’t eat a lot of beans now.

How I Use It: We put beans in lots of recipes! From soups, salads, and burgers to no-bake cookie dough bites (seriously!) and burrito bowls, beans are a staple at our house. Change up your beans and try different ones each week. Here is a link to all of my bean recipes.

Where to Find It: You can buy dried beans at any grocery store. We buy the canned Eden Organics beans at Wegmans, MOMs, or Whole Foods, but Amazon now sells them in their Amazon Pantry section, so check that out if you don’t live or work near a store that sells them. If you buy another brand of canned beans, make sure the cans don’t contain the chemical BPA (should say “BPA-free” on the label).

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Dijon Mustard

Why I Love It: I have to start by saying I used to HATE mustard. Well, I was so picky I actually didn’t eat any condiments until college (truth be told!). Unlike other condiments that tend to be loaded with chemicals and sugar, mustard tends to have a very simple and short ingredient list, and there are lots of varieties depending on your taste. I like Dijon the best.

How I Use It: It’s a great ingredient to have on hand for making your own simple salad dressings. You can combine it with lemon juice, olive oil and whatever herbs and spices you like for a tasty, healthy dressing that beats a bottle of store-bought dressing any day! I used it in this kale waldorf salad, crunchy chicken tenders, and easy honey mustard sauce.

Where to Find It: In the condiment aisle of the grocery store. We like the Organicville brand, which you can find at Wegmans, Whole Foods, MOMs, Fresh Market or a health food store. You might also be able to find it in the organic section of your grocery store.

So, what did you think? Was this helpful? Useful? Drop me a line and let me know!

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