The increasing interest in healthy eating means people are searching for healthy alternatives to staple ingredients. Here are a few items that you could add to your shopping list to provide nutrients and flavor to your health-conscious cooking.
Coconut oil: Another item gaining popularity, not only for its flavor but for its health benefits is coconut oil with its impressive fatty acid profile that can help modulate good and bad cholesterol ratios. Coconut has a high smoking temperature, which means it can be heated to high temperatures before it oxidizes, making it a great option for cooking with. Add coconut oil to pumpkin soup, using it to pop black rice for salads, or infusing it with turmeric, lemon zest, garlic and hard herbs ready for cooking.
Fermented vegetables: They are simple to make, great for your gut and chockfull of flavor. ‘Sauerkraut and kimchi are good examples of fermented cabbage. All you need is salt and a vegetable in a sealed jar, stored at room temperature and out of light for five to 10 days, depending on the strength you want. It will bubble up with healthy lactic acid bacteria.
Freekeh: Of Middle Eastern origin, freekeh or farik is a highly nutritious, easily prepared roasted green wheat grain with a lovely nutty flavor. You can make a warm freekeh salad with preserved lemon, ricotta and mint, or try a Cypriot grain salad with freekeh, lentils, seeds, nuts and herbs, topped with yoghurt and pomegranate seeds.
Kale: Popular for its nutritional value and versatility, this dark-green vegetable, with its leaves frilled like coral, can be braised, added to soups, baked like a gratin, swirled through pasta and its torn leaves can even be seasoned and roasted as a healthy alternative to potato chips.
Seaweed: There are many types of seaweed, including nori, wakame, kombu, which are great to add texture to dishes. Reconstitute your favorite by tearing it and adding it to salads, or enhancing a seafood pasta sauce with powdered kombu.
Gochujang paste: This fermented chili bean paste, mixed with sesame oil and a little sugar, makes a sensational dressing for oysters and seafood. Used in a stir-fry, it provides an amazing flavor and goes perfectly with chicken, seafood and meat. You can also add a small spoonful in dressings for salads.
Dukkah: Its lovely, spicy, sesame-seedy goodness can be used in different ways. Scattered over fried eggs, in shakshouka the fiery egg tomato combination, to leafy green salads, soups, roast vegetables and swirled into yoghurt and smashed feta to serve next to grilled fish, chicken, lamb, or as a crust for oven-baked fish.