Below are some of the ingredients you will find in the recipes on this blog, as well as, affordable sources to purchase them.
BUCKWHEAT is categorized as a grain from a culinary perspective, but it is actually a seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is gluten-free making it a good substitution for those who avoid gluten. While it is most commonly seen in soba noodles, pancakes, and blini’s (read labels to make sure it’s not mixed with wheat), it makes a delicious raw cereal (recipe here). You can buy organic buckwheat groats at Whole Foods for $1.99/lb. here in Kansas City in the bulk bin aisle. Soaring Eagle/ACME Grain in Edgerton, KS, grows organic buckwheat and sells the flour for only $10/5 lb. bag. You can also buy buckwheat flour at Whole Foods and probably most grocery stores these days (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill brand). Amazon.com is also a good source for groats in bulk, but you will pay shipping for the flour.
Ancient grains are making a comeback and FARRO is no doubt becoming popular among health-conscious, gourmet chefs. It’s used quite regularly in Italian cuisine both whole (in soups and risotto dishes), as well as, ground (used in pasta). As with most ancient (untainted) grains, it is lower in gluten than regular wheat, high in protein, and contains more vitamins and minerals. I order organic Farro from Bluebird Grain Farms in Washington state and grind it myself. You can find it at random health food stores (not at Whole Foods in Overland Park), but anything I have found has been expensive. I used it for various things, my favorite being gnocchi (recipe here).
KAMUT is a favorite of mine and is being used in everything I make these days. Another ancient wheat, it has only re-emerged in the last 25-30 years. “KAMUT” is actually the brand name of Khorasan Wheat. It has a very interesting story you can read here. Because it is branded, there are strict specification that must be met before it can be labeled as Kamut. That’s a good thing. You don’t have to worry about the quality of what you are buying, because legally, it has to be pure and clean. Like farro, it is high in protein, low in gluten, and high in nutritional value. While it is good in everything, it makes a mean pizza dough (recipe here).
QUINOA (pronounced KEEN-wha) is another ancient non-grain, like buckwheat. It is a highly nutritious seed that is considered a “complete” protein, because it contains all essential amino acids needed for humans. This makes it enticing to athletes and vegetarians who are concerned about their protein intake. It’s also gluten-free, high in magnesium and iron, AND cooks up in only 15 minutes. Everyone should partake. I buy organic quinoa at Whole Foods in the bulk bin aisle, but you can get it on Amazon.com for a decent price (click here). I have also seen it at Costco in bulk. Check out some of the recipes we’ve made with quinoa here.
SPELT, like farro and Kamut, is an ancient variety of wheat that is lower in gluten. Many people who have issues with gluten are able to eat spelt, farro, and Kamut, as it is easier to digest. The flavor and texture of spelt is much lighter than red wheat making it perfect for pastries and such. Soaring Eagle/ACME Grainin Edgerton, KS, grows organic spelt and sells the flour for $11/5 lb. bag and the grain for $10/5 lb. bag. Call to order.
Our favorite breakfast porridge is TEFF. A food staple in Ethiopia for centuries, it is very high in iron and calcium. It is the tiniest grain in the world and is mostly made up the bran and the germ, meaning it is packed with nutritional value (unlike wheat, which is largely made up of the endosperm with no nutritional value). It does contain gluten, but it is safe for those with celiac disease as it does not contain the gluten fraction that causes celiac. When cooked, the consistency is similar to semolina. We love it cooked with half water/half coconut milk, dates, and topped with a drizzle of honey. I buy mine from Amazon.com. They have a great deal on a 4-pack here.
I buy WHEAT in bulk from Soaring Eagle/ACME Grain, both red and white. Red wheat is higher in protein and ideal for bread. It does yield a heartier texture. White wheat is ideal for pastries, cakes, and cookies, since it is lighter in texture and contains less protein. White whole wheat flour is becoming more and more common in grocery stores, as is whole wheat pastry flour. If you are in the Kansas City area, though, you can order from Soaring Eagle/ACME Grain – $10/5 lb. bag.
All oils you buy should be extra virgin cold, expeller pressedand, where possible, organic. That means (1) it hasn’t been heated during processing to the point it loses nutrients and enzymes and (2) it is the highest quality. It is important not to heat oils above their smoke point. Not only does it diminish the nutritional value, but it produces harmful carcinogens. Read more about smoke points here.
COCONUT OIL is the main oil I use, because there are so many wonderful benefits. Although it is saturated fat, it has a different molecular structure that researchers are finding can actually improve metabolism and help in the asorbption of vitamins and minerals – just to name a few. More can be found here. It has a high smoke point making it safe to cook with at higher temperatures. I order mine from Mountainroseherb.com. One gallon is $37 and with $12 it ends up being around $.40/ounce versus buying it at the store where it’s more like $.71/ounce. $50 sounds like a huge investment, but it is one gallon and will last you a long time. Tropical Traditions sells a non-certified organic gallon for $39 plus $10 shipping in case you need another source.
GRAPESEED OIL is always around, too. It’s inexpensive (non-organic) and has a high smoke point. I buy mine at Whole foods – 32 ounces for $6.99. Organic would really be ideal, but it’s not as easy to come by.
After reading a couple of recipe books for raw food, I bought some MACADAMIA NUT OIL and I haven’ t looked back. I drizzle it on my salad and also use it to cook with (sparingly). I love the buttery taste of it. Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of monosaturated fat – even more than olive oil. I have been buying it at Whole Foods ($10/16 ounces), but I think I can find a better source. �
OLIVE OIL is a good ol’ standby, but you need to be careful with what you buy. You need to look for extra virgin cold, expeller pressed (as with all oils) and organic. I like to buy Whole Food’s 365 brand, as a 32 ounce bottle costs around $12. I do not cook with olive oil, as it has a relatively low smoke point. I prefer using it at cooler temperatures to maximize the flavor and retain the nutritional value.
Keep in mind that there is no “perfect” sweetener that you should consume large amounts of. All sweeteners, whole fruit included, should be used in moderation. The sweeteners used in the recipes on this blog can and have been successfully interchanged with the exception of stevia. Substituting stevia for other sweeteners takes a little more skill.
It seems that people either love or hate AGAVE NECTAR. I use it, not exclusively, because it does have it’s benefits. It’s low on the GI scale making it a good choice for those who need to watch their blood sugar…which is everyone. There has been so much controversy around agave nectar and whether or not it is just as bad as high fructose corn syrup that I recommend doing your research (start here) and then decide if it’s for you. You don’t have to use it. You can always substitute honey. If you do decide to use it then choose your brand wisely. I use Madhava and order it from Amazon.com here. Using Amazon Prime and Subscribe and save makes a 23.5 ounce bottle only $4.40.
PURE MAPLE SYRUP is one of those luxuries that is well worth the price. It’s perfect to sweeten cakes and muffins, such as these, and a must for pancakes, waffles, or french toast. I buy 32 ounces of organic, grade B maple syrup at Whole Foods for $17.99. I use it sparingly to make it last, but am not stingy enough to use Aunt Jemima’s on pancakes. There is no comparison from both a health and taste perspective. It’s full of minerals, which I encourage you to read more about here.
PALM SUGAR is a relatively new one for me that I have quickly come to love. Made from the nectar of palm blossoms, palm sugar resembles coarse natural cane sugar, like Sucanat. The flavor is much more complex, though. Really good. The nutritional profile is just as good. It’s particularly high in potassium. Check out a comparison to other sweeteners here along with a ton of other information about palm sugar. The cincher on this sweetener is that it’s low on the glycemic index with a rating of 35 making it perfect for diabetics and people, in general, who want to manage their blood sugar levels. That rating is comparable to agave nectar for those who want steer clear of that type of sweetener or just use more of a variety (like me). I have been buying Big Tree Farms SweetTree Organic Evaporated Palm Sugar. You can also buy round disks of palm sugar that you grate like this.
RAW HONEYis fascinating, delicious, and healthy all at the same time. It’s important to use raw, as the processing of honey destroys so many of the nutrients. You can read about those nutrients here. It’s also important to buy local honey, because it is produced by bees in the environment in which you live in. Reason being, it will contain the immunity properties your body needs in order to adapt to the environment it is in (think allergies).