5 Healthiest Kitchen Basics
You want to know the 5 healthiest kitchen basics that you need in your cupboards and fridge so that you can make your daily meals taste delicious, and be nutritious. There’s no better way to ramp up your nutrition than by storing and using superfood add-ons regularly. No food can be healthier than vegetables, but I am not including vegetables on this list except for bonus marks because they count as fresh produce and not dry goods. This list will focus on the healthiest kitchen staples that are considered dry good, though at least one of them needs to be refrigerated. Consider your cravings cured if you include these super duper foods in your daily diet. Not to mention, your health will sore! Here goes:
Your health will soar if you include flax seeds - whole or ground - in your regular eating routine. In order to do this you need to have them in your pantry at all times. I prefer the whole seed because the oils remain in tact and do not go rancid, as the powder is prone to do. You can always grind it yourself to make a vegan egg white substitute or use it in baking to hold your breads, loaf and cookies together. Flax seeds are a natural source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids- great for pain, heart health, menstrual health and breast tenderness. They are are also rich in anti-cancer lignans, a misunderstood source of weak estrogen mimickers that block harmful estrogens from hurting your hormone sensitive tissues. A typical serving size for ground flax seeds is 1 tablespoon (7 grams). Just one tablespoon provides a good amount of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of some vitamins and minerals. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds contains the following 37 Calories. Add them to smoothies, eggs, salads, noodles, cereal. They up the nutritional content of any meal, with very few calories. Great for women’s and men’s health, irregular periods, hot flashes, breast cancer and prostate enlargement. Also great for mental acuity and regularity. I cannot say enough about these bad girls.
Raw Cocoa/Cacao Powder
You can do a lot with a this miracle food. Raw cacao is a potent source of trace minerals like chromium which modulate blood sugar and hunger patterns. Raw cacao powder also has more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal per 2 tablespoons, with only 60 calories and a whopping 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of fat, and over 60 percent of your daily iron and magnesium needs. Cacao is also rich in over 300 compounds including: iron, zinc, copper, calcium, sulphur and magnesium. In addition, cacao also contains the chemicals phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide, a blissful brain neurotransmitter that binds to cannabinoid receptors - which means, yes you can actually fall in love with chocolate, and when cacao is around. Cacao has also been shown to increase cognitive performance, response time and memory. Normally companies will add caffeine, and the stimulant aspect increases when the cacao is cooked. For the best results buy the raw untreated cacao, which contains some but less of the stimulating theobromine phytochemicals. You can purchase the whole seeds or the broken nibs, and use them in trailmix, homemade granola recipes, in yogurt, or instead of chips in baking. They offer a satisfying creamy bitter flavor that fixes a chocolate craving fast. The powder is also excellent to add to smoothies, baking or drink as a hot or chilled beverage.
This naturally fermented bean paste pulls its weight as an enhancer of as flavor, texture and body in soup, sauces and dips. The only way to consume it is raw from organic non-GMO soybeans , which is an absolute MUST in terms of the total health benefits of soy for cancer protection. Miso is a source of copper, manganese, vitamin K, protein, and zinc. The fermentation process means that miso is rich in enzymes. Miso is considered to be high in salt with 1 tsp having 214 mg of sodium but let’s keep it in perspective as 1 tsp of salt has 2325 mg of sodium, so miso is less than 10% less salty than salt making it an excellent option for adding a good salty flavor without adding the sodium.. I add miso to homemade peanut dip and soup stocks. Keep miso in the refrigerator, buy the mellow, light and yellow varieties for a milder flavor when starting out. And NEVER boil miso. Miso makes an amazing instant soup but always add it to hot water or chicken broth once they have been removed from the heat. Chop up some mushrooms and scallions, and nori strips, and you have yourself a unique instant soup, better than the sushi restaurant.
Think of it as vegetables from the sea, these miraculous sea greens are superb for offering additional vitamins, minerals and flavor to cooked and raw dishes. There are many varieties of seaweeds such as nori, kelp, dulse, hihiki and arame. They go well with asian and macrobiotic flavors such as ginger, mushrooms, eggs, soy sauce, ginger, vinegars and other fermented foods. Nori can double as a bread and wrap up a raw burrito, instead of using a wheat wrap, eaten as chips, or cut up and added to miso soup. Dulse can be substituted for bacon or potato chips. Hijiki and arame make excellent seaweed salads. Kep and khombu can be cut into 1 inch x 1 inch squares and added to water for soup stock, homemade beans, pasta water and removed later. It leaves behind a salty flavor and minerals. But is it healthy? YES!! It’s low in calories. Red seaweed has the most protein with up to 50 grams per 3.5 ounces of nori. Seaweed is a rich source of several vitamins, including vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and B vitamins. A polysaccharide or medicinal starch called fucoidans, have antiviral activity and can induce cell death in human colon cancer cells; human studies have suggested that they decrease the rate of sugar absorption after eating. Like kale and other leafy greens, seaweed also contains vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting and for making bone enhancing Vitamin K2. Seaweed also contains agar, carrageenans (it’s not a bad thing), and other polysaccharides act as prebiotics, which may be of benefit to the bacteria (microbiota) in the large intestine. Hooray for better gut healthy and more nutrient absorption! Seaweeds are also protective against radiation as they contain iodine. Bluegreen algae like spirulina and chlorella count too. I love a complete greens in my daily shakes! .
Hemp seeds or hearts (hulled inside)
I love seeds, especially flax and hemp as they have so much diversity in smoothies, cereals, breads, deserts, and even sprinkled on salads and main dishes. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one serving (1 T) of hemp seeds has a whopping 166 calories but 9.47 g is protein, 14.62 g is fat - mostly the good kinds, 2.6 g of carbohydrates (including 1.2 g of fiber and 0.45 g of sugar). The micronutrients listed are 21 mg of calcium. 2.38 mg of iron. 210 mg of magnesium. 495 mg of phosphorus. These seeds pack nutritional and caloric density but do not shy away from them as these are the types of calories we need to increase metabolism, muscle building, and brain boosting. Hemp hearts are also soft and buttery. Now that hemp farming is legalized expect to see much more hemp flour, hemp protein and hemp seeds on the market. Hemp is the non-THC producing species of the cannabis plant, so it could have mild relaxation benefits due to its CBD endocannabinoid benefits though it is not possible to induce an altered state from eating this superfood.
Other seeds are phenomenal as basics as well - instead of pepper add the powerful immune boosting black seeds to your spice cupboard. You can also get nutritional boosts as well as flavor enhancement from sesame, cumin, cardamon, fennel seeds. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds also offer minerals, protein, fiber and omegas.
But the list above are my faves. If you invest in these 4 kitchen basics then it’s easy to make healthy and flavorful recipes. All you need to do is become familiar with new healthier ingredients step by step in order to transform your kitchen into a healthier place for you and your family. When the staples are in your cupboard and your fridge it’s much easier to make better choices, and see your health skyrocket!
You know yourself best, so if you are allergic or sensitive to any foods in this list, then obviously they are not for you - but we are confident this list is an awesome way to enhance the heath of your household immediately!! For more self-care and direct access to our doctors and health coaches, tune into our weekly Virtual Health Club to receive real-time coaching on all self-care issues important to you!