“For those of you who didn’t grow up eating lentil-and-brown-rice casseroles, it may be hard to recognize what came to be called “hippie food.” That’s because so many of the ingredients that the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s adopted, defying the suspicion and disgust of the rest of the country, have become foods many of us eat every day.”
~ Jonathan Kauffman
Pronounced ah-sah-ee, acai powder is native to the Amazon, the dark purple acai berry is one of the richest known natural sources of antioxidants, and is also packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Combined with frozen fruit, it makes a deliciously simple and supercharged breakfast bowl. I’m obsessed!
Activated buckwheat groats
An absolute godsend to gluten-free people around the world! Deliciously crunchy and versatile, activated buckwheat can be used in so many ways. You can use it as a granola or cereal replacement for breakfast, or add some to smoothie bowls for crunch. I include it in the base of cheesecakes or slices.
You’ll find activated buckwheat in health food stores and online, or you can make your own by following these simple steps: soak 180 g (6½ oz/1 cup) raw buckwheat groats overnight in 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) filtered water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt. Rinse and drain. Set a food dehydrator to 40ºC (105ºF), spread the groats on your dehydrating trays and leave for 24–48 hours, or until dry and crisp. Alternatively, spread the groats on a baking tray lined with baking paper and dry in the oven at its lowest setting for 24–48 hours, or until dry and crisp. Easy peasy!
Almond meal is simply made by grinding almonds. Super delicious in baked goods, it adds a nutty, moist texture and beautiful flavor to recipes. Almonds are well known for their healthy fats, fibre, protein, magnesium and vitamin E; health benefits may include lowering blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. To maintain freshness, keep your almond meal in the fridge in an airtight container.
Blueberry and strawberry fruit powders are relatively new on the scene. Full of antioxidants, berry powders are not only delicious, but nutritious. I use them in smoothies, stir them through breakfast dishes, and sprinkle them on almost everything. You’ll find them in good health food stores and online.
A big fan of buckwheat. It’s fabulous in its natural form, as activated groats, and when ground into a flour. Although its name suggests it is a form of wheat, buckwheat is classified as a seed, and is naturally gluten free. Low in fat, it contains disease-fighting antioxidants and highly digestible protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals. With its deliciously nutty flavor, buckwheat flour is the star ingredient in pancakes and baked cinnamon donuts. A definite pantry staple.
One of the most stable fats around, cacao butter is the pure, cold-pressed oil of the cacao bean and provides a healthy dose of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. I use it in place of coconut oil in some of my cakes, and for making chocolate. Cacao butter is solid, but I always use it in liquid form. To liquefy cacao butter, simply place it in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir it with a whisk or a spatula, checking with a thermometer to ensure the temperature does not rise above 48°C (118°F), to keep all the valuable nutrients intact. If it starts rising above this temperature, remove the bowl from the heat; the cacao butter will be warm enough to finish melting on its own.
Cacao powder, raw
If you want serious nutrition, raw cacao powder is where it’s at! Unlike regular cocoa powder, which is heat-treated, raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans. This process removes the fat, while keeping all its nutrients and enzymes intact. I
Raw organic cashews contain a host of vitamins and minerals, including copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K and oleic acid. Together these nutrients promote bone strength and joint flexibility, may help discourage migraines, improve memory, lower blood pressure, and help protect against UV damage, heart disease and cancer.
Soak them in water overnight for maximum nutrient absorption. If you are running short of time, you can speed up the process by soaking them in boiling water for 30–60 minutes.
Gluten free, and super high in omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are full of nutrition, unbelievably versatile and an essential pantry staple. Soak them to make breakfast puddings, and have them in muesli mixes, and in raw and baked treats. High in fibre, protein and calcium, they keep you regular and fully satisfied. You’ll find them in major supermarkets.
Dried coconut plays a starring role in many breakfast and treat recipes. It is so versatile, as well as totally delicious. Coconut also boasts many health benefits, mainly due to its high levels of lauric acid, an anti-fungal, anti-viral compound thought to be helpful for gut health and immunity.
Shredded coconut is made from coconut flesh that has simply been dried and shredded. I love its texture in raw treats and as a breakfast topper.
Flaked coconut is basically the same as shredded, but processed into flatter pieces, making it less stringy. Desiccated coconut is also dried, but contains less moisture than shredded or flaked coconut. Finer in texture, it works beautifully in raw and baked treats.
A creamy, velvety spread made by blending coconut flesh, coconut butter is rich in immunity-boosting lauric acid. It may also help increase your metabolism, enhancing energy levels and aiding in weight loss. I love using it in frostings. You can find it in health stores and online.
Coconut cream & coconut milk
Use coconut milk in many recipes for its creamy texture and distinctive flavor. Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated flesh of a coconut, which is processed with water to create a milk. Use it in combination with other plant milks, such as rice or almond milk, as they blend beautifully together. Coconut cream contains less water than coconut milk, resulting in a much thicker texture.
Most tinned coconut milks include an emulsifier; Use brands that are 100% organic and BPA free. You could also use long-life coconut milk if you wish.
Coconut flour is made from grinding coconut pulp after it has been squeezed for coconut milk. It contains much of the fibre from the coconut, and absorbs lots of liquid. High in protein, it is particularly handy as a thickener, and simply for its delicious nutty flavor. Add some to my pancake mix to give it a little extra rise. It is naturally sweet and filling, which is an extra bonus.
Possibly the most versatile oil on earth, coconut oil is a definite keeper. With its high smoke point, coconut oil can be used at high temperatures without becoming unstable and losing its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. Use it in much of your savory cooking, as well as raw and baked treats. For maximum health and taste benefits, use cold-pressed (and preferably organic) coconut oil.
Coconut oil solidifies in colder temperatures. To liquefy it to use in recipes, immerse your jar in a bowl of boiling water. Within a few minutes, the oil will begin to melt. Keep it immersed a little longer for the oil to melt completely.
Coconut sugar (also known as coco sugar or coconut palm sugar) is a natural sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. This tasty sugar is considered the most sustainably produced. Being high in sucrose, I wouldn’t call coconut sugar a health food, but it does offer some trace nutrients, and has a less dramatic impact on blood sugar than many other natural sweeteners.
Irresistibly creamy, full of flavor and totally satisfying, coconut yoghurt is a favorite dairy-free yoghurt. Consumed in moderation, it can benefit your health and help fight infection. It is made from coconut cream and is sold in major supermarkets and health food stores.
Dates, medjool and pitted
Dates are a must in your pantry. Use medjool and sometimes pitted dates in my recipes. Medjool are the larger fresh dates you’ll find in the fruit and veg section of your grocery store. They’re soft and super sweet, and perfect in shakes, smoothies and raw treats. They contain pits, which need to be removed before consuming.
Pitted dates are the dried variety most commonly found in the baking or dried fruit section of grocery stores. They are chewier and less moist than fresh dates, and ideal for baking.
When pan-frying, use grapeseed oil for its mild flavor and high smoke point. The ‘smoke point’ is the temperature at which an oil will begin to smoke. When heated past its smoke point, the fat in the oil starts to break down, releasing toxic fumes and free radicals. Although we most often cook at moderate temperatures and the risk of heating the oil past its smoke point is unlikely, I like to play it safe.
Also called flaxseeds, linseeds are one of the leading sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibre. Ground linseeds are incredibly useful in plant-based baking as an egg substitute. When linseeds are ground and mixed with water, they thicken and act as a binding agent, and are commonly called a ‘flax egg’. Fortunately, linseed meal is easily processed by the body and provides many health benefits. Grinding your own linseed meal as you need it yields the best binding results; I store mine in the fridge to keep it as fresh as possible.
A natural sweetener prepared from the Peruvian lucuma fruit. Known as ‘Incan gold’, the pulp of the fruit is dehydrated to produce the powder, which is commonly added to smoothies, treats and breakfast foods. In recipes it is generally interchangeable with mesquite powder — they both offer a caramel-like flavor and contain a heap of nutrients.
Maca is a root plant known for its energizing and revitalizing properties. Often referred to as ‘Peruvian ginseng’, maca powder is nutritionally dense, containing vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Loaded with vitamin C and iron, maca can help boost the immune system for daily wellness, and also help with stress, mood, PMS and menopausal symptoms. I add a teaspoon to smoothies or treats when I need an energy boost. However, too much maca can cause hormonal disruption and other side effects, and should be avoided altogether by people with thyroid illnesses. Check with your doctor or naturopath if you have concerns.
Mesquite is a nutritious superfood powder with a sweet, rich, nutty, caramel flavor that works beautifully in smoothies and treats. The powder is extracted by grinding the seed pods of the mesquite plant, commonly found in South America. It is high in protein, and rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and dietary fibre. Buy from good health food stores and online.
One of the world’s oldest crops, millet is a nutty, mildly sweet grain, once mainly used as bird and livestock feed. Increased interest in its nutritional and gluten-free properties has revitalized its image, and it is now enjoyed as a wheat-free alternative. Millet flakes can be used in Banana and maple bread. It has a mild flavor that pairs well with most foods. Millet contains B group vitamins, magnesium, potassium and dietary fibre, and may assist with toxin excretion. Adding millet to your diet while detoxing can help speed up the process.
Nut butter is an addictive spread achieved by grinding nuts into a paste. Use nut butter in a lot of recipes — and I often eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon! Nut butters can be found in most supermarkets and health food stores; or make your own.
Besides its delicious cheesy taste, nutritional yeast (also called savory yeast flakes) is very nutritious, as its name would suggest. It is high in some B-complex vitamins, and is often fortified with B12. It is also a complete protein, low in fat and sodium, is free of sugar and gluten, and contains iron. You’ll find it in most health food stores, some supermarkets and online.
Oats have got to be the ideal breakfast comfort food, and add a subtle, delicious flavor to cookies, baked goods and raw treats. Much controversy surrounds the presence of gluten in oats, and whether gluten-free oats exist. Oats are naturally gluten free, but are almost always contaminated during the milling process. Oats contain a protein called avenin, which can produce a gluten-like reaction in some people with celiac disease.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand prohibits any form of oat being labelled as gluten-free in Australia or New Zealand, but a few international brands sell gluten-free oats that have been tested to not contain gluten.
While oats most often do not cause a reaction for people with an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, the Celiac Australia society does not recommend that people with celiac disease consume oats of any kind.
If oats are a concern, you can almost always substitute them in my recipes with quinoa flakes.
Used heavily in Mediterranean cooking! Please pay attention to the quality of the oil you use. Extra virgin olive oil is the purest grade you can get. It is made by crushing olives and cold-extracting the juice, without altering the oil in any way, and using no additives during the process. Naturally, it has the finest flavor and more health benefits. The phenolic compounds in olive oil have been found to promote cardiovascular and digestive health, and have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting qualities.
The more processed and refined your olive oil is, the less beneficial it will be.
Potato flour is made from cooked, dried and ground potatoes. It works well with other gluten-free flours and adds a desirable moist, soft texture to pancakes and cupcakes. Don’t confuse it with potato starch. Ground from the whole potatoes, including the skin, potato flour is heavier and denser than potato starch and tastes more like potato. Potato starch is flavorless and is better used as a thickener.
Mainly used as a form of natural dietary fibre, psyllium husks are often sprinkled on breakfast bowls or added to smoothies. I find psyllium adds a beneficial texture to gluten-free baking in general, making the result more moist and tender. Psyllium is readily available in supermarkets and health food stores.
I love its taste and texture, and that it’s high in protein, less starchy than rice, and so versatile. I often use quinoa flakes in baked goods and savory patties, the cooked grain in salads and meals, and quinoa puffs in sweet treats. Quinoa is gluten-free, but if you are highly sensitive to gluten, ensure the quinoa you buy hasn’t been processed in a facility that also processes grains, to avoid any potential gluten cross-contamination.
Rice malt syrup
Organic brown rice malt syrup is a naturally malted whole-grain sweetener derived from brown rice. Characteristically rich but mildly flavored, it complements other flavors in a recipe, whereas sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup and molasses have a stronger, more distinctive flavor.
If you can’t find brown rice malt syrup, use pure Canadian maple syrup. It contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc. Make sure you buy 100% Canadian maple syrup and not the cheaper maple-flavored syrups, which are often made from a nasty mix of sugar, corn syrup, molasses, caramel color, alcohol, vanilla extract, flavors and a sulphide-based preservative.
A popular option for gluten-free baking, sorghum flour is ground from wholegrain sorghum, and has a light texture and mild sweet flavor. Being high in fibre, it promotes digestive health, helps fight cardiovascular disease and aids in blood sugar control.
Used alone, sorghum flour produces dry, gritty, baked goods. I combine it with tapioca starch and rice flour to give my baked gluten-free recipes better volume and texture.
Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, adds structure to gluten-free baking. It comes from the root of the cassava plant, and in combination with other gluten-free flours, provides a chewy texture to baked goods.
Tapioca flour is similar to arrowroot powder, but also gives a little elasticity to baked items.
Like quinoa, teff is a really handy and nutritious gluten-free grain. Long a nourishing staple of highland Ethiopians, the grain may be the tiniest in the world, but packs in many health benefits. Teff is high in protein, iron and calcium, and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is excellent for maintaining blood sugar balance and feeding the friendly bacteria in the gut, for improved digestive health. Use ivory teff flour in baked cinnamon donuts and it works for a treat. Available online and in health food stores.
Organic vanilla powder is such a beautiful product, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is simply made from grinding organically grown vanilla beans to a powder — and nothing else! Its aroma and taste is far superior to extracts and essences, particularly in smoothies and raw cakes.
You can make your own vanilla powder by simply grinding some organic vanilla bean pods in a coffee or nut grinder.
The next best thing is organic vanilla bean paste or extract. Most pastes and extracts contain some kind of added sugar, but there are a few superior products that don’t, so check the label.
Made from the outer layer of a tiny, inactive bacterium called Xanthomonas campestris, xanthan gum is commonly used in gluten-free baking as a binding agent. I use it as an emulsifier, and to add volume to gluten-free batters.
A tangy Middle Eastern spice mixture that includes dried thyme and oregano, ground sumac, sesame seeds and salt. Blend za’atar with olive oil and add it to a cauliflower ‘dough’ to create gluten-free mana’eesh ‘flatbread’.
In Middle Eastern culture, za’atar is believed to give strength and clear the mind. It is also said to boost the immune system and circulation, build strong bones, soothe inflammation, boost energy and improve mood.
Sources: Hippie Lane: The Cookbook