Learning to eat healthy is like learning a new language; unfathomable at first, but it only gets easier. I promise. It really does get easier. Once you make the very challenging and personal decision to change your dietary habits, there’s a lot of information & new food to digest. This blog post is going to help you navigate through the next phase: finding the actual ingredients to make healthy, unprocessed & nourishing meals at home.”Dear Aleyda, can you tell us a bit more about the ingredients in your recipes?” is something I come across quite often in the emails you guys send. And I read them all, and am truly full of gratitude for your questions.
I still can’t believe that these actual emails come from the people who actually read my posts and take the time to write with their feedback. When I first started this blog, I was pretty darn sure the only soul reading my entries would be my dad, who was my first blog subscriber. Which by the way, if you haven’t subscribed to it yet- there’s a “follow” button that enables you to get all my latest recipes directly into your inbox as soon as I hit “publish”. It pops up when you first open the page. You’ll receive new recipe notifications, no spamming- that is also a promise.
So I got an awesome email from Julia in Ottawa last week that encouraged me to pen this post. This a guide that will help you stock up your pantry for my smoothie recipes; which are the ones that most often than not call for the odd ingredient you’ve never ever heard about. I was that person, too once. Reading + googling and choking down laughter at some of the suggestions. Like, adding bee pollen to a smoothie. Folks, never say never until you actually try it for yourself.
I am going to do 3 instalments of this “Healthy Eating 101” series… the first one, targets smoothies. The second one will be all about baking, and the third, on everyday food. They will each be 2 weeks apart.
- Chia seeds: I use black, organic Prana brand chia Seeds. One bag sells for under $8-10 dollars. A bag lasts me a long, long time. 1 tbsp is all you need per smoothie!
- Hemp Hearts: I love Manitoba hemp hearts. I throw them onto salads, soups, smoothies; you can sprinkle them on anything as they don’t have a particular taste of any kind. Maybe just a mild, nutty flavor. They are an amazing source of fatty acids. They also sell for under $8-10 a bag.
- Flaxseed Oil: People often share with me that flaxseed oil is amazing for skin conditions like eczema and overall healthy skin. You don’t need to rub it on your face, no. Just 1 tbsp into every smoothie will turn it into rich, creamy goodness and you can’t really taste it, either.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: I am obsessed with the bold flavour of Madagascar Vanilla from Simply Organics. You’ll absolutely love it, too! Any other all-natural vanilla extract would work. They are expensive. About $6-8 dollars for a tiny container, but all you need is 1 tsp. Taste-wise for your smoothie, well worth the money!
- Certified GF Oats: Oats are naturally gluten-free, but sometimes wheat cross-contamination may occur. I always purchase certified wheat or GF oats. For smoothies, do not use steel cut oats. “Old-fashioned Rolled Oats” work best and they’re not heavily processed. I use the Bob’s Red Mill brand and the bag goes for about $7-8 dollars.
- Coconut oil or coconut butter: I like to buy cold-pressed, all natural. 1 tbsp makes any smoothy creamy and rich in healthy fats. If you don’t like a coconut-taste, buy deodorized coconut oil and it won’t smell like coconuts, I promise. You’re looking at at least $13 dollars a jar, but I always buy the brand that’s on sale and it’s usually $10.
- Almond/sunflower/ or hazelnut butter: These are AMAZING in any smoothie, and 1 tbsp is all you need. All I can say is healthy fats & most importantly, protein. You’re looking at about $7-8 dollars for a small jar, at least 10 tablespoons in it.
- Raw Cacao Nibs: amazing on smoothie bowls, pure cacao, no dairy. Unlike cocoa, the cacao beans are never roasted or heated to really high temperatures and thus conserve all their enzymes nutrients. Cacao is a healthy food: packed with antioxidants & magnesium. Milk chocolate, is not. The nibs are not sweet, but I always throw them on vanilla or regular coconut yogurt & throw in a tiny drizzle of maple syrup. It’s heavenly. They go for about $13.99 for a good size bag that lasts me 1-2 months.
- Coconut Yogurt: I only rely on two brands: YOSO & SO Delicious. Love them both and they’re dairy free & vegan. I love vanilla coconut yogurt, it’s sweet and it’s another great way to sweeten a smoothie. They range anywhere from $4.99-6.99
- Almond/Cashew/Coconut Milk: All dairy free, vegan milk options. Nut milks have a ton of calcium and nutrients. Some have more calcium than milk, itself! I always buy carrageenan free. Some studies have linked carrageenan to cancer, and I’d rather err on the side of caution with that one.You’re looking at anywhere from $1.99-$3.00, extremely affordable! After you open them- don’t keep them in your fridge for more than 7 days.
- Bee Pollen: All I can say is food for your autoimmune systems So many vitamins & nutrients go into pollen and it’s now available to us. Please note; not all bee pollens are created equal. I encountered my fair share of bitter bee pollen. I swear by Beekeepers Naturals: best tasting pollen, ever. It’s yet to be available for sale on their website, I was able to get some samples. It just tastes like dry honey. I add 1 tbsp into smoothies on top. If honey is not your thing, then add it to the ingredients & then blend the smoothie. You’ll hardly be able to taste it. You’re looking at $6-11 dollars.
- Frozen Fruit: Whatever brand you buy is fine, there’s little difference. Just ensure you read the label and that it says is has “no added sugars”. From May to October, I get ALL my fruit from local farmer markets. The fruit/vegetable shots in this post have been taken during my trips.
*All of the above can be found at stores like Costco, Whole Foods, your local supermarket or your friendly neighbourhood health store. Toronto readers: I live on the East end of Toronto & shop at The Big Carrot, at Moberly’s, at Sobey’s (across from my house) and at WholeFoods Yorkville. It is amazing to see how quickly all of the above are becoming mainstream products.
If you’ve got ANY other questions, just send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Always HAPPY to help.