Cacao– Upgrade to this from regular cocoa powder, you can also use cacao nibs in place of choc chips, plus they add some crunch to dishes too which is great on dishes such as granola. I love using cacao as it is much less refined than regular cocoa and doesn’t have any added nasties, there’s no dairy, sugar etc, and most brands haven’t been heated too much meaning that you’re getting much more of the beneficial compounds than the processed stuff. I’ve posted in more detail on the benefits of cacao before, it can be found here
Nut/seed butter– I’m not referring to the most commonly consumed type of nut butter which is peanut butter, most of which have added refined sugar and salt if not more. I’m referring to and recommending having at least 2 high quality nut/seed butters i.e. cashew, almond, tahini (ground sesame seeds) etc, preferably with nothing added and with the nuts/seeds having been roasted at a suitable temperature thus preserving the good fats.
Nuts & seeds are amazingly nutritious, they are full of good fats, fibre, antioxidants & nutrients e.g. almonds high in calcium & vit E, cashews high in copper & iron, brazil nuts very high in selenium, sunflower seeds high in vit E and walnuts high in omega 3 fats.
A reason why I recommend nuts and seeds in a “butter” form is that this makes them more versatile and therefore easier to consume as they can be included in dishes to give a luxurious, creamy taste. They can also be used to make sauces/dressings for salads or easily spread onto toast, crackers, rice/oat cakes and porridge, some of my favourites are nut butter on oatcakes or tahini (ground sesame seeds) mashed into a ripe banana with cacao nibs.
*Seed butters tend to have a stronger earthy flavour than nut butters so I recommend consuming them with something sweet or mixed into a sauce etc.
These butters can be made at home if you have a strong, powerful blender. You can also now find a wide variety of nut and seed butters online and in nearly all the supermarkets, just remember to try and choose high quality ones.
Wholegrain flour/pasta– This one might seem obvious and you’ve probably heard it a thousand times before however, many kitchens still don’t have even one wholegrain option and instead use the white stuff. The white, refined versions have had the fibre removed from them meaning they spike your energy and insulin levels in a similar way that refined white sugar does, yet so many people are trying to swerve refined sugar but are still regularly consuming white flour/bread/pasta.
Real/true cinnamon is actually called “ceylon” compared to the more common stuff which is referred to as “cassia”. Real cinnamon contains far less coumarin (which can be detrimental in large amounts) and has a better, sweeter flavour. You can purchase true cinnamon online and possibly in some health food stores.
A reason why it is included in this list is that I feel it could be substituted in many ways for sugar. Due to baobab being sweet, tangy, containing fibre and lots of vitamin C, it’s a healthy and great way to flavour plain dishes e.g. bland smoothies/veggie juices, porridge and can be easily included into baking, just take a look at some of my recipes and you’ll see it’s a favourite of mine.