Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The List of 5.

And just like that, this month has flown by me too fast to even know what just happened! Holy not-enough-hours-in-the-day Batman, how is it already so close to the end of the year! I mean Halloween is pretty much directly around the corner (even though I can't see it through all the Christmas decorations that seem to be covering all stores) and I don't have so much as an inkling as to what to dress up as! Suggestions are welcome my friends in the comment section - let's keep them PG as that is how I will roll out this fine Halloween. In other news..... the kitty we found in July has FINALLY been named! Allow me to reintroduce Puma, named for her scratching skillz that killz:

So its a picture of a picture... but look at how cute the picture of the picture is!

How freaking adorable is this cat? I am so happy we found her (even though I am a dog person 100% lol). Ahywho... moving along as this is billed as a foodie blog, not a crazy cat lady blog... Or is it? 

It's a foodie blog, don't worry. And to prove it this particular post is dedicated to the 5 kitchen staples I as a vegan caterer MUST have at all times in my kitchen. I have had a lot of people ask me questions about what ingredients I use, and why I use them. It is time to talk ingredient shop, and get your pantries stocked with some healthy goodness. 

#1) Coconut Oil/Coconut Butter/Coconut Milk
image credit: google image search

Coconut is imperative to my overall happiness. Its health properties make me smile (and make my skin glow as it is beneficial to skin care as well!). Cooking with coconut oil is so important for overall health. Most oils you find in the supermarket (olive, sunflower, safflower, canola... etc) breakdown under the high heat you are cooking with, and create toxic compounds that in the end are harmful to your body. Coconut oil is the only oil that can truly hold up under high heat. Whether I'm cooking up a stir-fry, caramelizing onions, or other stove top delight I try to use coconut oil whenever possible. Some of you might not love the taste of coconut, so to keep the taste from permeating the dish use a little in your pan to start with, and then add in a little water as you cook to prevent sticking. I HIGHLY recommend you look into making the switch. For more awesome coconut oil info check out what this doctor has to say:

#2) Nutritional Yeast
image credit: google image search

I cannot live without nutritional yeast in my kitchens, professional and at home (this is partly because the manfriend eats this stuff like mana from heaven). For me as a vegan chef nutritional yeast is my best friend when making vegan cheeze. The nutty natural flavor lends itself magically to the land of vegan cheeze. It is also a fantastic snack option packed with TONS of nutrients. A favorite snack in my home is a piece of multigrain whole wheat toast, a little vegan butter, and then topped with nutritional yeast. If you have kids that you are trying to feed more B vitamins to this is your meal ticket, literally. I truly believe whether you are vegan or not, this is something you will need in your kitchen if you are looking to cook healthy. Here's a little more information about this amazing yeast written by an amazing woman who has been working in the natural food/health industry for 25 years:

#3) Quinoa
image credit: google image search
Quinoa has been getting a lot of press right now for its superfood ways, and I could not be happier about that if I tried. This amazing little seed (often called a grain by mistake) has a high protein content, high iron content, high in B vitamins, and the list goes on! The fantastic thing about protein found in quinoa is that the protein is considered a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids). This is an important fact for vegans and vegetarians, as the media seems to like to tell us that we will never get all our protein without meat. *Suckers, we know better* I love eating quinoa as a breakfast option (cooking it in almond milk and stirring in cinnamon and maple syrup), as a lunch option in a salad, or as a side at dinner (you can cook it in veggie broth and use curry powder for an extra kick). It is the most versatile ingredient in my kitchen, and I love finding ways to use it! I often chose quinoa over rice and other grain options. For more fun facts about why you should have this in your kitchen here's more info from Whole Foods:

#4) Ground Flax Seed
image credit: google image search
How do you cook without eggs? How do you cook without using a egg replacer powder that has gluten in it? -> Ground Flax Seed!!!! Oh my goodness I would be lost without these seeds. I sing their praises daily in my kitchen. I find that subbing eggs out with ground flax seed not only helps me keep my baked goods vegan, but also helps add a fluffy texture and keeps things moist. Let's be honest, when presented with a dry brownie and a gooey brownie the latter wins every time hands down. Flax seed helps us vegan folks keep our baked goods light years ahead of the lardy dairy/egg filled stuff. Plus flax seed is jammed full of nutritional value. So not only will your cookies taste like fluffy gooey joy, there is also a little health benefit. Win-win-win. These little seeds are a great source of omega-3s and fiber! Just be sure you ground them up when using them otherwise they are so small they will just pass through you, and you will miss out on the health benefits. I also like to add a tablespoon or so to smoothies for an extra health boost. Whole Foods has a great write up on flax seed for additional nutritional info:

#5) Any Sweetener thats better than White Sugar
image credit: google image search

So this last pantry staple is open to! However, I think we can all agree that refined white sugar is not something we want to use often in our baking (or at all if we can help it!). It isn't great to the figure or high in health quality, so we need to brainstorm outside of the box. My favorite sweetener substitute is Powdered Maple Sugar or Maple Syrup. There are tons of options out there, but maple seems to be the best option for my kitchen. I love the taste it creates when baking, and have been known to use syrup in stir-fry sauce for a sweet and spicy mix. (Here's a good link to all the kinds of natural sweeteners out there:   Maple syrup/sugar contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and other fantastic vitamins that make it light years better for you than regular sugar. So why not toss out that fairly terrible refined stuff, and opt for a healthy alternative??

Stay tuned to lear how some of the above listed ingredients help make these Pumpkin Pie Donuts :)

1 comment:

  1. How about dressing up as a stapler? Always a big hit at the Halloween parties.

    BTW, thanks for all the good info! Quinoa rules!!!