In my last blog I talked about healthy eating and how I've expanded my food horizons. I thought it might be fun to make a list of some of the "weird" things I keep around the kitchen now, and what exactly I do with them. I've also included links to my favorite recipes and where you can pick up these goodies!
1) Kale-I use this healthy leafy green in a number of different ways; green smoothies, salads, soups, and I love to throw it on a cookie sheet with a little bit of olive oil, chili powder, and salt and roast up some yummy kale chips.
You can pick up kale at basically any grocery store, it's usually with all the other leafy greens. I always buy organic when it comes to kale.
2) Garbanzo Beans- Like the kale, garbanzo beans tossed with olive oil, garlic salt, and chili powder (or really any combo of oil and spices) toasted in the oven make a popcorn like snack, soooo good! Garbanzo beans are great when added to soups, salads, turned into veggie-like burgers, and are used to make hummus.
Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas can be found at any grocery store next to the black, pinto, and kidney beans.
Roasted Garbanzo Beans
3) Chia Seeds- These little guys are packed full of fiber, omega 3s, and protein. Add a teaspoon on top of whole grain toast with almond butter for a little extra flavor and texture, or add to cooked granola. My favorite way to use chia seeds, pudding. If you combine 1 cup of almond milk (I use vanilla) with 3 teaspoons of chia seeds stir together and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours stirring occasionally the chia seeds will absorb the liquid are create a thick pudding texture. I usually add in some agave nectar, cinnamon, or vanilla.
Rumor has it you can find this stuff at Walmart and honestly I haven't really looked there. I've always purchased these little guys from Whole Foods or Sunflower Market, you can also find them online. I'm not gonna lie, they're a little expensive but they last for a long time. Last time I found them in the baking aisle next to the flours (not flowers).
Chia Seed Pudding
4) Quinoa- I talked a little bit about this in my last post. I like to use quinoa when I need a break from brown rice. It's great when used in casseroles, in salads (of all kinds), and baked and used as a topping. If you're interested in giving quinoa a try the casserole recipe I've linked below is AMAZING, I promise you'll love it!
Quinoa can be found at just about any grocery store, usually with the rice on one of the lower shelves. Many stores (including Target) have their own brand now. Like the Chia Seeds this stuff can be a little pricey but you really do get a lot of nutrition bang for your buck.
Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
Quinoa Fruit Salad
5) Agava Nectar- This is my all natural go-to sweetener. I use it in tea, add it to oatmeal, and as on of my main wet ingredients when making granola, and in smoothies. Basically, I use it in place of sugar (I also keep Stevia on hand for baking)
This is another one of those things I've always purchased at health foods stores. It's usually located with the syrups. It's another one of those things where a little bit goes a looong way so it'll last you a while.
6) Almond Milk- I keep both unsweetened vanilla and regular almond milk on hand and use it for anything calling for milk. Cereal, oatmeal, coffee, tea, smoothies, breads, etc... I honestly think that almond milk tastes soo much better than regular milk and it lasts a lot longer, plus it is lower in calories and a great alternative for folks that can't drink or don't like the taste of milk.
Almond Milk can be found at any grocery store next to all the other milk. Most grocery chains have their own brand of Almond Milk making it more affordable and easier to find.
7) Ginger- If someone would have told me two years ago that I'd be buying ginger root on a regular basis I would have told them they were nuts. When eating sushi I'm the person that pushed the ginger right of the edge of my plate confused about what I'm supposed to do with it and why it looks so scary. Turns out, ginger isn't so scary after all! I add ginger to many of my stews and to almost all of my stir fry sauces. Believe it or not it's also excellent when added to smoothies, adds a nice punch. Plus, ginger is said to help calm an upset stomach and help kick that cold a little bit faster.
You know that area where they keep the green beans, bagged salads, and fresh mint? Good, that's where you'll find ginger root. Don't get crazy, you only need one root, a little goes a long way.
Fresh Ginger Smoothies
8) Flaxseed- Ground Flaxseed is pretty fantastic and I'll tell you why. You can seriously add this stuff to everything, I mean everything! Add it to cereal, throw it in oatmeal, add to breads, muffins, pancakes, cookies, smoothies, the list goes on and on. It's a great substitute for eggs and oils in certain recipes. Also, like pretty much everything on this list flaxseed is high in omega 3s and fiber.
Flaxseed can be found at pretty much any grocery store. It can usually be found in the healthy/ organic, baking, or cereal aisle.
9) Seaweed- I bet you were not expecting to see this one were ya? It's okay, a few weeks ago I would have been surprised too, seaweed is a very new addition. I originally bough seaweed because I read that adding to to beans while soaking aids with digestion so I figured it was worth a try. Turns out you can actually buy seaweed to snack on (or add to beans, salads, etc..) and it tastes pretty darn good, oh! and it's good for you! Seaweed is full of good stuff like potassium, iron, calcium, and soluble fiber.
If you want to get crazy and give seaweed a try best to check out your local health food store in the Asian cooking section. I've had terrible luck finding this stuff at my local grocery store.
10) Lentils- I avoided recipes that called for lentils for a long time because I couldn't figure out where to buy them and what they were exactly. Lentils are a legume high in protein and fiber and can usually found next the dried beans in most grocery stores. I usually use lentils in soups and stews. The recipe I've linked below is amazing and includes some other fun and fabulous ingredients like coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and ginger!
Creamy Thai Sweet Potatoes and Lentils