Common Ingredients Used in Natural Plant-Based Recipes
There are specific techniques, as well as, natural ingredients used in natural food preparation that allow you to expand what you can do and make. These ingredients can add depth of flavor, give foods more of a cooked texture, add creaminess, or can be used to thicken specific ingredients within a recipe.
As you venture forward into more recipes, you will learn more about different types of products that help to create structure, texture, or enhance flavors. Have fun, and remember, with more knowledge of ingredients and hands on experience, you will only expand your creativity as you go forward into new recipes.
And for those extremists that seem to get a bit over the top, to put it nicely, I understand that some of these products/ingredients are not truly raw, they are still used by many raw food chefs and widely used in vegan recipes.
Health benefits of dates: Medjool dates are one of my favorite natural sweeteners. They are the whole food sweetener, containing vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
The benefits of eating dates include they are a source of fiber, minerals, and provide energy. Read more …
Coconut oil is the cold-pressed oil extracted from a mature coconut. It has a long shelf life, and its high smoke point makes it suitable for higher temperature cooking.
Heating oils at high temperatures is reported to cause them to become carcinogenic. Olive oil, for example, is a good, excellent, and healthy oil, but best to use it directly out of the bottle, rather than heated. While unprocessed organic virgin coconut oil will withstand heat better than most oils, up to 170 degrees before breaking down.
Produced predominately in Southeast Asia, coconut oil is used as a dairy butter replacement.
Benefits listed in connection with organic, virgin coconut oil include:
- Supports heart health
- Increases metabolism
- Supports thyroid
- Promotes weight loss if needed
- Supports immune function
- Topically, as a skin moisturizer
I personally use and recommend the Nutiva brand. You can find it in my Amazon Store, or Costco sometimes carries it in a 72-ounce size.
Miso (pronounced mee-so) is a delicious fermented, high-protein seasoning which has played a major role in Japanese culture and cuisine for centuries. It is most often made from a combination of organic soybeans, cultured grain, chickpea, and sea salt by a unique, fermentation process.
Miso can be used as a seasoning, but also gives a depth and brings out the flavors and nutritional value in all foods.
It also helps the body to digest and assimilate what is eaten. Miso is best known as a seasoning for soup, but can be used in a wide variety of other dishes or recipes as well, such as dressings, snacks, and yes, even desserts.
Miso offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, and protein of the highest quality, containing all of the essential amino acids. My favorite miso’s are ones with a light, sweet savory flavor, such as Eden Shiro Miso. South River Miso company makes a supreme product, but is only available certain months out of the year. See Miso Post.
Nutritional is not an activated yeast, as what most people are familiar with, but rather a de-activated yeast product. It’s comes primary from pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown on mixtures of cane and beet molasses.
It is powdered yeast without leavening power, marketed for its protein and vitamin content.
Nutritional Yeast is an excellent source of protein, rich in many of the essential amino acids that complement proteins available from other sources. Braggs Nutritional yeast contains 3 grams of protein per 1 tablespoon.
Not all nutritional yeast products are the same. As with many foods and products there are better ones to purchase and consume that provide greater nutritional benefit, as well as taste. The brand I use is Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast.
When it comes to B vitamins, not all nutritional yeast products contain the same profile. For example, some nutritional yeast products contain small amounts of B-12. Bragg’s is an excellent source of B-12. Their labels reads that a 1 tablespoon supplies 40% of the RDA.
Another benefit of nutritional yeast is its support of the immune system. Studies indicate that nutritional yeast, containing beta glucans, boost the infection fighting side of our immune system, while decreasing inflammatory responses.
On a negative note, small amounts of lead were found to be in some nutritional yeast products. When approached, different companies responded in a varsity of manners. Some quoted their amounts over the phone, while others refused to respond (Red Star), except for Bragg’s. They were the only company to supply an actual lab analysis of their product, showing only a minute amount, lower than all the other products. The doctor conducting the survey, made the following statement:
“My favorite response was from Bragg’s who sent me the analysis certificate from the lab showing less than 0.01 ppm (lead), which means at most less than half the California
standard, which I believe is the most stringent in the world.” Michael Greger, M.D.
You can find it listed in my Amazon Store, under Food Products.
We are all familiar with soy or tamari sauces. Though a tamari sauce may sometimes be a better choice for a particular recipe, my personal choice to traditional soy sauces is coconut aminos. It is gluten-free, soy-free, low glycemic, and mineral rich. Also, it is lower in sodium.
The most notable difference is the impressive amino acid content, containing 17 different amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and contribute to muscle tissue repair and rebuilding, helps overall brain and nervous system function, and assist in immune system and energy levels.
Coconut aminos also contain minerals, vitamin C, and a broad spectrum of B vitamins.
You can find it listed in my Amazon store, under Food Products, or in stores like Whole Foods Market.
Avocados, like tomatoes, are often called vegetables, but are actually fruits. Avocados offer many vitamins and minerals, including being a good source of B vitamins, C and E. They also contain lutein, which is good to the eyes.
Avocado is a fatty fruit with a creamy consistency, high quality essential fatty acids and proteins that are easily digested.
Avocado contains healthy fat, which is needed for the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, such as carotenoids (antioxidants found in food). These orange-yellow pigments, found in red, orange, and yellow peppers, leafy greens, just to name a few, offer outstanding health benefits, but only if they are absorbed up into the cells. Intake of fat along with carotenoids greatly helps to improve their absorption. Many of the foods containing carotenoids, are low fat sources, so adding avocado to smoothies and salads offers increased benefits beyond the avocado itself.
Avocados are low in sugar, and contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer. They are a slow burning fuel compared to most fruit.
Avocado work great in recipes to replace butter and eggs, and due to its texture and consistency is wonderful for making dips, mousses, puddings, and yes, even non-dairy ice cream.
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