Here is a list of the most commonly used items in my pantry. I try to get organic when available and not too costly, and least refined (for the fats and sweeteners).
- Coconut oil: Look for organic unrefined cold-pressed extra-virgin oil. This version is best because it’s not refined, deodorized, or bleached. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, can be heated to 350°F (which is defined as high-heat), and has a fragrance that transports you to a tropical island! This is my favorite oil! In cool temperatures it becomes solid, so when I need a liquid measurement, I heat it in a pan until it becomes a liquid and then measure it.
- Olive oil (extra-virgin cold pressed)
- Toasted sesame oil from Eden Organic: Great for any asian dish, it imparts a warm, rich taste.
- Walnut oil (unrefined): Should only be used as a finishing oil. Great on salads.
- Ghee from Purity Farms: This is clarified butter, what you get when the water and milk solids are drawn out. Good to have around when you find you’ve run out of butter for toast! An acquired taste, and only good in small amounts in my opinion.
I use either all-natural or organic spices from Whole Pantry (Whole Foods brand), Trader Joe’s, or Frontier
- Black peppercorns: Frontier has an adjustable pepper mill so I can grind fine or coarse fresh pepper.
- Sea salt (coarse & fine)
- Cardamom: I adore this spice, use it whenever I can! It’s sweet with a bite, and has a warm, fragrant aroma. Can use it with both sweet and savory dishes.
- Five spice powder: May also be called “Chinese five spice powder.” Contains cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise, and white pepper.
- Apple pie spice: I use this on oatmeal, desserts, or anywhere I could use cinnamon. Contains cinnamon, fenugreek, lemon peel, ginger, cloves, nutmeg.
- Chili powder: Contains chili peppers, cumin, garlic, oregano, coriander, cloves, and allspice.
- Herbes de Provence from Pelindaba Lavender: Contains lavender buds, basil, fennel, rosemary, savory, and thyme.
- Eden Shake from Eden: Love, love, love! I use it on any asian dish, salmon, grains, veggies. Contains black & white sesame seeds, pickled red shiso leaf, and nori seaweed.
- Raw honey: Far superior to filtered (liquid) honey. It’s not heated or filtered so it retains its phytonutrients. Try to get local honey–especially if you have pollen allergies–as the bees are rolling around in the pollen of the blossoms you are likely sneezing from, and eating this honey may desensitize you over time. Click here for more info on the nutritional and healing qualities of honey.
- Grade B maple syrup: Less refined than Grade A, so retains more vitamins and minerals. Maple syrup provides 22% DV of manganese and some zinc.
- Pomegranate,blueberry, or cherry juice concentrate from Dynamic Health: It’s 100% pure concentrate. I use it to sweeten baked desserts or add a little to seltzer water to make my own “soda.”
- Date sugar: Made only of ground dates, so you get all the fiber, minerals, and vitamins you would if eating dates whole. Can substitute for equal amounts of sugar, but it doesn’t dissolve, so don’t use it as a sweetener if you need it to do that! I use it in baked desserts, like cobblers.
- Vanilla extract (no alcohol): Not technically a sweetener, but tricks my taste buds into thinking it’s sweet, especially when combined with cinnamon.
- Apple cider vinegar from Bragg: It’s organic, raw, unfiltered, and looks like an advertisement from the 70’s…what’s not to love? Great to use when you need to add a little “sour” punch to your food. I use it primarily in dressings and sauces.
- Tamari from Eden Organic: Wheat-free soy sauce made from water, soybeans, sea salt, and koji.
- Lavender herbal vinegar from Pelindaba: Not your boring vinegar! White & red wine vinegar is infused with culinary lavender, seasonal herbs, garlic, peppercorns, and orange peel. Delicious with some oil on salad!
- Melinda’s original habanero pepper sauce: When I need to spice things up, I use this hot sauce made with carrots, red habanero peppers, onions, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, and salt.