My Kitchen Staples

Cooking for me, for everyone, is a huge expression of creative energy. I often feel it is the same as an artist painting a beautiful painting or a composer coming up with an amazing piece of music. I absolutely love it, it keeps me feeling alive, creative and inspired.

Having a well stocked kitchen is one of the essential tools for being able to allow this creative energy to flow and also to be able to sustain regular healthy home cooking from a plant-based diet.  We wouldn’t expect an artist to be able to paint without enough paint or paint brushes would we?  So, no matter what, I will always make sure I have a certain list of staples available in my cupboards so that I always have the opportunity to make something nourishing, healthy and delicious for myself and my family.  Even on those days when i’m over-worked, under-slept, have a million things in my schedule and the fridge is almost bare – because I have my Kitchen Staples I know I will at least be able to make even the simplest healthy, nourishing meal.

Lastly, I am aware that there are many ingredients that most of you would never of heard of as they have been more from a macrobiotic diet up till now and are not so known in the mainstream.   So I want to introduce these ingredients to you and let you know a little about them all so when you see them in my recipes from this point forward you won’t feel so baffled. Also these particular ingredients have very powerful medicinal qualities to them and can be used literally like medicine when there is problems with health.  I will explain with each one how and when you can make use of them.  They may seem very alien to you right now so please don’t fret I just want to introduce you at this stage, you don’t have to start a relationship just yet!

The ingredients that I’ve underlined are the ones I personally cannot do without but for you it may be different.  It all depends on what you love to cook and eat as well as you’re family (if you have one).  If you have most things on this list you’ll be able to make lots of regular and delicious healthy plant-based meals and really be able to play around once you get comfortable with them all.

Wholegrains & Grain Products
  • Short grain brown rice
  • Long grain brown rice or Basmati Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Cous Cous
  • Soba or Udon Noodles
  • Whole wheat or Spelt Spaghetti or Pasta
Beans, Pulses & Proteins
  • Red Lentils (Dry)
  • Black Beans (Dry & Cans)
  • Aduki Beans (Dry & Cans)
  • Chickpeas (Dry & Cans)
  • Butter Beans (Dry & Cans)
  • Fresh Tofu – Medium/Firm
  • Fresh Tempeh Block
Condiments, Seeds & Nuts
  • Shoyu (Sugar-free soy sauce)
  • Tamari (Wheat/Gluten-free, sugar-free soy sauce)
  • Miso (Dark, unpasteurized – barley, rice or hatcho)
  • Organic Sesame Oil
  • Good Quality Olive Oil or Extra Virgin Oil
  • Brown Rice Vinegar
  • Good Quality Natural Mustard (Sugar-free)
  • Arrowroot (A thickener similar to corn-flour but unrefined)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Raisins
  • Dried Apricots (Unsulphered)
  • Good Quality Sea Salt
  • Cashew Nuts
Wholegrain Breads
  • Unyeasted Sourdough Bread (the most digestible) (We usually always have a loaf in our freezer for those last minute moments)
  • Rye Sourdough
Sweeteners, Spreads & Jams
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Apple Juice
  • Maple Syrup
  • Fruit-only Jams (sugar-free)
  • Almond Butter (either home-made or store bought but sugar-free)
  • Tahini
Flours & Baking
  • GF White Self-raising flour
  • Rice Flour
  • Chickpea Flour (Great for making tempura! and crusting the outsides of burgers)
  • Wholewheat Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Vanilla Essence
  • Vanilla Bean Pods
  • Desiccated Coconut
  • Coconut Cream
Milks
  • Almond Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Oatly Cream (Little cartons of cream made from oats. Great for last minute desserts and you have no time to make you’re own)
Sea Vegetables
  • Kombu (Also known as kelp and an amazing tool for tenderising beans and grains during cooking to help them become more digestible. Also packed full of minerals so great for using in stocks or vegetable cooking water)
  • Wakame (Mostly seen in Miso soup in Japanese restaurants)
  • Nori (Mostly knows for the seaweed that wraps around sushi. Full of iron and calcium, an amazing snack – especially for kids!)
  • Dulse
  • Arame
  • Hijiki
Canned goods (Essential for last minute cooking)
  • Organic Canned Chopped Tomatoes
  • Organic Canned Beans (Chickpeas, Blackbeans, Aduki, Butter)
  • Organic Canned Sweetcorn
  • Organic Tomato Puree
Spices & Dried Herbs

I have an array of spices in my house and find it really useful for when I just want to play around with different flavours and ingredients.  But here are essentials for me:

  • Bay Leaves
  • Cumin
  • Tumeric
  • Curry Powder
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Five Spice
  • All Spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Herbamare (This is a herbed salt and is delicious and incredibly useful for bringing flavour to quick cooking)
Macrobiotic Ingredients / Medicinal Foods

AMASAKE

This is a creamy sweet natural sweetener made from fermented Wholegrains and comes in three different forms: Brown Rice, Millet or Oat..  It is absolutely delicious and is also incredibly good for relaxing the body and nourishing the stomach and spleen.  You can add it in desserts, smoothies, porridge, cereal or dilute it with some water or rice milk, warm it up and drink it like a tea – this is a medicinal tea I give my daughter if she has bad teething and seems very tense, cranky, unsettled.  It really relaxes, soothes and comforts her.  This can be done the same way for us adults!

KUZU

This is a japanese root that is so incredibly powerful and grows deep deep in the ground.  It can be used exactly as we would use corn-flour or arrowroot, to thicken soups, sauces, desserts etc.  It is so medicinal and healing and great for strengthening the intestine, lungs, stomach and overall digestive system.  If you have been vomiting and been very sick or have an upset stomach then you can dissolve this and then warm it up in a cup full of water and drink it as a thick tea. Do this every day for 3 days.  You will be amazed at it’s power.

AGAR AGAR

This is a natural vegan gelatine.  It is actually a sea vegetable but when diluted in liquid it will eventually set and you will have jelly.  Absolutely fantastic for making desserts and mousses with.  It is also incredibly medicinal. Very relaxing for the digestion and the whole body, if you are suffering from constipation then have some jelly made with agar agar and it will help you pretty quickly.  Also great for when you are feeling really tense from too much work, life stresses etc.

UMEBOSHI PLUMS

These are japanese plums that have been pickled and are incredibly sour and salty.  They are also very very powerful healing medicines.  I always try to have a small pot in my house for medicinal purposes.  They are amazing for strengthening the immune system, stomach and overall health system.  If you find that you’ve over eaten sugar, meat, had too much alcohol and have become too acidic, or even have a very bad hangover, suck on one of these plums and it will re-balance your system again.  Whenever my daughter has a bad cough or cold I give her a little of a plum every day and when she is well again I give her a little 3 times a week as her immune system is getting stronger and growing.  A small pot will last you a long time!

 

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