This is a list of things I like to keep on hand. They may seem expensive when you buy them, but when used properly there is no price I am willing to put on the difference between authentic ingredients and imitation garbage. For example, I will never spend money on the cheap fake liquid vanilla flavoring that comes in those plastic brown bottles. Instead, I buy vanilla beans so I see and TASTE where the flavor is coming from.
Salt– I recommend using Natural Ancient Sea Salt, Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt. However, there are tons of varieties out there and you should give a different one a try next time you re-up. While doing so, you want to stay away from solid white salts due to processing, usually having things added like dextrose which is a sugar, and silica aluminate which is aluminum and oxygen. Fore more, clickHERE
Pepper– Fresh Cracked! The key to fresh ground pepper is quality peppercorns and a decent grinder. This is one of those staples where you’re going to pay for the taste. We learned our lesson after buying peppercorns on sale for 70 cents and when we used them, they were tasteless. There are tons of varieties and colors. To learn more, click HERE
Cumin– Second widest used spice next to black pepper, it is a wonderful addition to many dishes. Has an almost licorice taste to it
Cinnamon– Nice note for sweets but is inching its way into more and more savory dishes; try a dash in your tea
Clove- Use sparingly and you’ll love this spice. Try a hint in a citrus dressing; their warm and sweet flavors compliment citrus well
Allspice- Has a range of medicinal benefits. It’s used in jamaican jerk and curry rubs. Add a pinch to your pancake or waffle mix
Curry powder– Is a mix of many spices and is yellow tinted from Turmeric. Spices have natural healing properties unto themselves, but curry is like the multi-vitamin of the spice world. It can vary by region, chef and household, but generally contains Cinnamon, Cardamom, Anise, Chili Powder, Corriander, Cumin, Mustard, Peppercorn and more. You can buy pre-made curry powder or get the ingredients and make your own and have spices left to use independently. Either way, your spice collection will continue to grow because seasoning to taste is a very personal path. Eventually you can make your own curry or tandoori and many other traditional powder rubs. Click HERE for more info
Garlic and Onion Powder– Using fresh garlic and onion is a must, but the powder adds a more concentrated taste which can be easily mixed into a sauce, stew or soup. Also, when you’re seasoning to taste, maybe a dish needs more of a garlic or onion taste. If you don’t want to saute up garlic or onions at the end of the meal, use powder. Make sure you’re getting natural garlic and not additives. NEVER USE GARLIC OR ONION SALT!
Nutritional Yeast- “Nutch” or “Nooch” as its nicknamed, has an almost cheesy taste and can be sprinkled about anywhere. There is at least two brands that have been fortified with the B12 vitamin: Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula and Twinlab SuperRich Yeast Plus. We get our B12 from not only Nutritional Yeast but also a B12 supplement.
Oil- Oil has a few different purposes in the kitchen: raw, medium sauté and high heat
Raw : for mixing salad dressings or bread drizzle. You’ll want full flavor Extra virgin olive oil,(which refers to the amount of processing affecting the taste strength and color)pumpkin seed, flax seed.
Low and medium heat: Your general use oil for quick sautes, stir fries, sauces, and baking under 375°. Cold pressed virgin olive oil is less expensive and still contains high levels of oelic acid. Safflower, peanut, sunflower, grape seed, sesame, avocado, and hemp all have unique flavors, consistancies, controversies, and prices but your looking for Expeller pressed, the alternative is chemically extracted.
High heat : For cooking above 375°; baking, blackining, and frying. Coconut, and Palm tend to be the best known and widest used vegan options, generally high heat is dairy and animal fats like BUTTer and lard. but high heat cooking is something I do pretty rarely, if at all
We will be continuing our oil education in more detail HERE because it is a huge world and facts seem to constantly shift to fit agendas. These are the ones I personally use and recomend.
Liquid Amino- Braggs is probably the best known but they have competitors, mainly store brands which tend to be the same thing, I have noticed no difference in taste or ingredients. This is at the very least a healthy alternative to soy sauce, but it is a great source of amino acids that can lack in any diet.
Herbs-some situations and circumstances require dried herbs, but fresh is best and growing your own is optimal. herbs add flavors and transform mediocre dishes into superb culinary delights. herbs is a very detailed subject each having their own purpose and place. good general use herbs include; oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, cilantro, basil, marjoram, and many others. Click HERE for more info
Vanilla- Fresh Bean or Pure Extract is well worth your money. Because of the levels of flavor in real vanilla, a little goes a long way. Immitation vanilla which can contain wood particles laden with chemical flavorings (worst case scenario) is a sacrifice in flavor! It’s like being quarter-dimensional in a 3-dimensional world
Hot Sauce– Adding heat to a dish is an individual groove to be filled in so many ways. It’s easy to make your own and cheap to buy. I love spicy food and try to keep a bottle of Sririacha (Thai hot sauce) to heat up Asian dishes, and a Vinegar-based for elsewhere. Click HERE for more info
Liquid Smoke– Colgin Natural Liquid Smoke is vegan and gluten and MSG-free according to their website FAQ. This adds good smoky taste while cooking indoors on gas or electric stove. I only use this name brand because I know no other.
Vinegar- Vinegar’s are more diverse than oils but rather than heat point we’re concerned with acidity 4-8 Ph is suitable for cooking and raw consumption but can be as acidic as 18-20Ph as used in pickling. I recommend having an Apple Cider Vinegar for dressings (when you look at the bottom of the glass without shaking, you should see settled solids called “the mother”) and a Balsamic or Wine (red or white to taste) for cooking. Vinegar is an amazing addition to the world of cooking and we will continue to learn more and more about them HERE
This list will probably expand in the future, so check back often for new ingredients!