Do you want to cook your family a healthier, more nutritious menu?
Are you interested in paleo or ketogenic nutrition?
Want the food you make at home to contain important nutritional values and not just empty carbohydrates?
Do you want to discover new flavors?
If you answered YES on one of these questions, this post is for you.
This is a partial list of healthy products that you should gradually incorporate into your kitchen and start experimenting with them.
With experience in healthy cooking, you will discover more products and start enriching the pantry.
First, we need to talk about sugar.
I will not elaborate here on the damages from refined sugar – meaning white, brown, demerara sugar, etc. Anything that’s refined sugar, is harmful. If you’re reading this post and you’re visiting this blog, you already have some awareness of the matter. I’ll just add that the World Health Organization recognizes diabetes as the plague of the 21st century.
What is the reason?
So the first thing you should replace is refined sugar with all kinds of other sugars.
If something is considered as “healthier” sugar, it doesn’t mean it can be eaten freely without negative results. Those are still sugars. Because they are not refined they are less harmful to the body and less addictive.
Each of these sugars has its own negative side effects due to the fact that those are still sugars.
For example, fructose products such as agave syrup, maple syrup, grape sugar, or fruit sugar cause a build-up of abdominal fat – in short, make us grow a fat belly.
Too much xylitol causes gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and gases.
Pure stevia and coconut sugar are the good guys, but on the other hand, they’re less sweet (i.e., you need a bigger amount) and very expensive. To switch completely to pure stevia and coconut sugar in everything, you have to increase the family food budget by a few hundred dollars a month. yes, that’s a disadvantage, too. Most of us have kids and a mortgage.
I’m not going to list all the negatives here, but you understand the idea… If it’s sugar, don’t overdo it. And if you exaggerate it’s harmful, even if it’s not refined sugar.
There is an interesting method to work around this problem, at least partially:
Instead of replacing refined sugar with one particular type of sugar, it can be replaced with several types. It’s still a bad idea to overdo the amount of sugar, especially if there’s a tendency toward diabetes or you want to keep the weight off, but the fact that you combine few types greatly reduces the negative effects each sugar has.
All in all, we all like the sweet taste and don’t really want to give it up. You just have to learn to work “within the system” and not against it.
No, that doesn’t mean you have to run and buy the whole list now. Most of us already have some of the good sugars at home.
For example, for backing, if you want to work with a dry sugar without having to start balancing liquids with flour, instead of refined sugar, you can use coconut sugar, palm sugar, or xylitol.
If you have no problem playing a little with the recipe and balance the addition of liquids with flour or nuts, then you can bake with agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, or date honey.
Most of us have some of that stuff at home in the first place. And then, when you’re shopping at the supermarket, buy another new kind of sugar and try it.
For hot beverages, it’s best to switch to stevia, but you must read the guidelines regarding stevia. It must be pure, without any additives. And it also takes a day or two to get used to the different taste, but once you get used to it, the regular sugar suddenly has an aftertaste.
So if you drink hot beverages with stevia, make cold beverages (e.g. iced tea or smoothies) with honey, bake with 1-3 different sugars from the list, etc., you significantly reduce the accumulation of negative effects from these sugars and also control costs.
Here’s a partial list of healthier sugars you can start working with. It’s not a complete list, it’s really the first steps to a healthier kitchen.
A natural sweetener that resembles honey in texture and flavor and is produced from the agave cactus.
It has a pretty high caloric value, so it is not recommended to consume it during a diet or if you’re maintaining your weight, because it contains quite a bit of fructose (fruit sugar).
But, on the other hand, it has a very low glycemic index (a glycemic index means how much a particular food stimulates insulin secretion). It’s actually a sugar that the body doesn’t recognize as sugar. That’s why quite a few diabetics use this syrup as a substitute for sugar, as long as it’s done in small quantities. Again, it’s still sugar.
*Super important note: If you have a sugar problem do not decide to consume agave on your own, but should consult a doctor.
In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties, strengthens the immune system, antibacterial, and is rich in minerals and enzymes.
It’s also very sweet – about half a teaspoon replaces a teaspoon of sugar.
Sugar produced from the coconut tree and has the lowest glycemic index – 33. meaning hardly triggers insulin secretion.
Again, if you have diabetes, you have to consult a doctor. The quantity allowed depends on the severity of the problem.
It is also rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, boron, zinc, sulfur, copper, vitamin C, most B vitamins, 17 important amino acids, and fiber.
Its taste is similar to caramel and is very reminiscent of brown sugar but more delicious. Can replace sugar in any existing recipe and usually also improves the recipe. But it’s less sweet than regular sugar, so you have to use1.5-2 cups of coconut sugar for each cup of sugar listed in the recipe.
A natural, zero-calorie sweetener (yes 0 calories) that has been used for thousands of years as the “Sweet’n Low” of South American Indians.
The liquid stevia, which is sold in nature stores, usually comes 100% stevia with no artificial additives and it is the only product recommended. It’s really important to check on the back of the packaging and make sure it’s 100% stevia.
Today you can buy stevia in tablets but it’s really not recommended because the substances that are added to it to make it in a tablet form. There’s also a Stevia product that’s used instead of sugar in a 1 to 1 ratio. meaning, a cup of this product equals a cup of sugar. Highly inadvisable. If you read the list of the ingredients added to it to give it enough volume to fill a cup and read about these ingredients online, your eyes will look like an owl’s from shock – most of them are literal toxins.
There’s also a fact that the level of sweetness of the liquid stevia varies a little from product to product, so in most recipes with stevia, the quantity is “approximate.” It is recommended to prepare with the quantity listed, then taste it and improve to taste.
You can also buy a stevia plant, put on the kitchen windowsill, and use the leaves for sweetening tea or coffee. Backing needs liquid stevia.
Real Maple Syrup
This syrup is one of the tastiest there is and it’s suitable not only for pancakes but for seasoning and enriching a great many foods.
There is a product called Maple Flavored Syrup, it’s really not the same and it’s better to stay away from that product. It contains water, sugar, food coloring, and artificial flavoring. In short, liquid poison.
You can find original maple syrup made from a maple tree. It should have a USDA Organic stamp on it, should have no corn syrup, and a Gi low (low glycemic value) stamp, making it also suitable as a sweetener for a diet.
Its unique taste also greatly enriches standard beverages:
Try to make lemonade with maple instead of sugar – amazing!
Or iced tea in the summer:
Boil a liter of water.
Toss in 2 bags of berries or fruit infusion.
Add maple to taste.
Cool outside till room temperature and refrigerate for another hour.
The next thing we need to talk about is flour. Mostly wheat flour.
With wheat, there’s a very serious problem. All the wheat that exists today in the world is genetically modified wheat that has undergone quite serious changes to suit all kinds of needs – and not health needs, but production needs
The wheat today is simply harmful. It’s very addictive, and the main reason for carb addiction. It’s literally as addictive as refined sugar, and these two are the chief “villains” in our diet.
There’s in-depth research done on this matter published in the book “Wheat Belly.” I really recommend reading it – it brings about a significant change in viewpoint.
One of the manifestations of this change in wheat is the coeliac disease. It’s a disease that wasn’t even known 50 years ago. Not because it wasn’t researched, but because it didn’t exist. And today not only does it exist, but the percentage of people who suffer from it is steadily rising from year to year. There are predictions that at this rate, in 15 years 50% of the world will have Coeliac.
Another manifestation of this change is the second epidemic of the 21st century “obesity.” In this case, there are two “culprits” – wheat and refined sugar.
So as a second step towards a healthy kitchen it is recommended to replace, at least partially, the wheat with other flours.
Important Note: whole wheat is still wheat. It doesn’t matter if the flour is white or whole, it’s still wheat.
Some flours are known as substitutes for wheat flour and have been known for a long time, such as rye and spelt. You can make with them almost everything you can make with wheat, and working with them is similar enough that after a recipe or two downloaded from the internet you learn to work with these flours.
On the other hand, there are more special flours, which are also much healthier, but working with them is a little different and requires more experience, and you can’t prepare everything with them either.
My recommendation is to start playing with different flours, experimenting, tasting, making different recipes that are made with these flours in the first place until you learn to work with them. In time, you’ll discover that you don’t miss wheat flour.
Here’s a partial list of such flours:
Excellent gluten-free flour – making it the recommended flour for Coeliac patients. And also the preferred flour for any diet or nutrition designed to keep the weight off.
Upon first inspection, the carbs percentage looks quite high (about 50%). But if you remove the fiber (58 g to 100 g product!) you reach 20 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. And because this flour absorbs more liquids than other flours, you use less of it. Instead of a cup of plain flour you only need about a third cup of coconut flour. Sometimes, it takes a little more because its absorption capacity varies a little from product to product – depending on how dry it is. In the end, it’s 60% less carbohydrate than wheat flour.
Coconut flour is very rich in important nutritional values and supports the immune system. 100 g contains 8.8 mg iron, 70 mg calcium, 197 mg magnesium, 5.5 mg zinc, and 1450! mg of potassium. Actually, what this list says is that this flour is not only low carb and not fattening, but that it’s also healthy.
Today you can finally buy coconut flour in most nature stores.
These seeds have been known for thousands of years and are now being rediscovered. The main actions of flax are improving the health and function of the heart-lungs system. It also reduces the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
The seeds are rich in omega-3 and fiber.
You can find flax seeds in almost any store. If you have flax seeds at home, they can be ground in a coffee grinder or in a blender. I personally recommend always buying seeds and grinding them. After the flax seeds are ground, they lose about half their benefits over time.
Flax contains 28.5 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, but of these 27 grams of fiber. After the fiber percentage is removed from the carbohydrates (which the body does not digest and therefore does not actually get the carbohydrates from) there are 1.5 grams of carbohydrates left for 100 grams of flax! Suitable for any diet and weight loss as the ultimate flour.
The only problem with it is that there are hardly any recipes just from flax flour and it always comes with other flours. The most recommended are almond flour or coconut flour.
Gluten-free flour rich in protein and fiber.
It also contains vitamin C, many B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphor, zinc, potassium, omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9.
The carbohydrates amount in almond flour is about 20g-per-100g. But if you take off the fiber (which counts as carbohydrates but the body doesn’t digest and doesn’t absorb) then it’s actually 9 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of the product. Making it an excellent flour suitable for any diet and any healthy lifestyle designed to keep your weight down.
Almond flour can be bought in most nature stores as well as from spice or legume sellers.
There are articles online on how to make almond flour at home but I don’t recommend trying it, because usually instead of getting almond flour, you get almond butter. In this case, I recommend you buy it.
The next thing that is not so healthy is animal milk. Yes, goat’s milk has some healthy uses, such as for treating Aphthous stomatitis, and is less harmful than cow’s milk, but it’s still animal milk.
Most of us grew with the concept that milk is healthy and needed for calcium. But on the other hand, a little research online brings up a long list of harmful side effects from this milk.
And the best proof … A new disease that started a while ago and is becoming more common in society: lactose intolerance.
Do you notice a repetitive trend of new diseases related to specific foods?
There’s a reason for this:
Man is an omnivore. meaning, he can eat plants and animals. Our bodies have the ability to digest foods that are not so healthy for us and still get nutrients such as protein, vitamins, etc. If that weren’t the case, the human race would have gone extinct a few thousand years ago.
But the mechanisms that protect it from substances that damage it begins to erode if they have to deal with huge amounts of substances that are harmful to the body. It starts with sensitivities and progresses to real diseases.
In today’s society of abundance, which has plenty of white flour pastries, plenty of sugars, a very significant increase in consumption of milk and dairy products, the erosion of these mechanisms is beginning to manifest.
Again, the idea is not to give up the things we love altogether, but to reduce their consumption so as not to erode the systems in the body that protect us from the damages of these things. None of us wants to develop coeliac disease, severe lactose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, etc.
Replace part of the animal milk and dairy products with plant Milk substitutes. This balance helps the body cope with the more harmful things over time.
You can make a lot of things with plant milk that even enriches the taste and vary it.
Of course, there are also many negative studies on almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc. Anything, if you overdo it, is more damaging than helpful. Here, too, the idea is diversifying and combining new products to, on one hand, balance the body and on the other hand, add new nutrients to the system.
Here’s a partial list of milk or butter types you can add to your menu. Here, too, it’s a good idea to start working with recipes that are specifically suitable for these products until you learn to work with them, and then you can start to diversify.
A particularly tasty substitute for cow’s milk. In fact, coconut milk has much more calcium than animal milk and also improves the functioning of the immune system.
It also contains a variety of amino acids, vitamins C and D, a variety of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphor, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
In short, a health bomb.
Oh, I almost forgot, it’s really tasty too!
And you can even make at home: soak a cup of coconut chips or flakes in 4 cups of water for 4 hours. Grind in a blender and filter through a cloth diaper. The resulting liquid is coconut milk.
And the remaining pulp can be added to cakes, cookies, healthy popsicles made at home, meatballs – yes, meatballs – and all sorts of other things that you want to enrich their taste.
Milk that is rich in nutrients but has a very low caloric value. It has all the health benefits of unroasted almonds because of the very short processing for the milk production.
This milk contains some important nutritional values: it contains vitamins E and D, B vitamins, and a large amount of calcium.
Almond milk has a subtle taste that enriches desserts that require the use of milk.
You can also make almond milk at home:
Almond milk is only made from unroasted almonds.
You must soak the almonds before preparing the milk for 6-8 hours.
Put a cup of almonds and 3 cups of water in a blender.
Grind well for 1 minute and leave for 2 minutes to soak.
Repeat three times.
Strain through a very dense sieve or through a cloth diaper.
And the remaining pulp can be added to cakes – a cup of pulp instead of a third cup of flour, for cookies, etc. You can add it to pies, patties, mix with eggs, some flour, and spices and make dumplings, etc. And I’m sure once you start working with it, you’ll discover more uses.
Extra delicious butter rich in vegetable protein and minerals. This is a much “leaner” butter than animal butter and the fat in it is unsaturated fat, meaning the body uses it rather than hoard it.
It contains a large amount of vegetable protein, B vitamins, vitamins C and E, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphor, zinc, potassium, trace elements, omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9, and amino acids.
You can find it in almost any supermarket, and almost in any health store.
And you can also make it at home:
Put unroasted almonds in a food processor with the spinning blade and grind for a very long time, it can be even an hour or more, depending on the strength of the food processor.
The same way you can make cashew butter, nut butter, hazelnut butter, peanut butter, or pecan butter.
All types of butter are always, always, always prepared from unroasted nuts.
Some More Additions
Here are two more products that enrich every kitchen that wants to take the first steps towards health because of specific features in each.
One of the most amazing seeds on Earth. These seeds are considered superfoods within the list of superfoods.
They are very rich in a lot of important nutrient values: an excellent source of omega-3, contain a large number of amino acids, manganese, phosphor, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, sulfur, copper, lots of potassium, vitamins A, C, D and lots of B vitamins.
They also have a fluid absorption feature, which causes them to expand in the stomach and give a feeling of being full.
For recipes that require ground chia seeds, you can grind them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or even a blender. It’s better to grind them before use, not grind and store.
One of the most amazing and healthy oils there is. This oil helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids in weight loss (it’s the only oil that does that) and improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
It contains vitamin E, iron and omega-3, 6 and 9, and a number of important amino acids.
It has a very unique taste that some people love and some people need getting used to. But this unique flavor enriches many recipes that it combines well with. In fact, it is not only oil but also the seasoning of the food.
It also has many other amazing uses:
One of the best oils for hair – there is a reason for a ton of hair products with a picture of coconut on the cover.
Excellent carrier oil for essential oils.
Excellent for applying on extra dry, peeling skin. Simply a miracle cure.
In short, it’s worth getting to know this oil.