I guess it’s safe to say that you know you genuinely care about your health & what you put into your body when you rather buy quality ingredients over a new t-shirt or shoes. But, that transition didn’t happen overnight… you’re talking to an ex-shopaholic here! But seriously, the long-term investment in my health & taking care of my body has been one of the best ones I ever made!
There’s nothing that makes me happier than to share my journey with you & as part of that journey, to share with you some of my favourite health foods that have nourished my body, mind & soul along the way!
If you want to know more about EVERYTHING I keep stocked in my pantry, check out my full blog posts here & here. But for today, I want to talk to you babes about the ESSENTIALS, a.k.a. the things I really really really cannot live without & that I use on a daily basis!
Keep in mind that I did not learn or educate myself about these ingredients & products in one shot or overnight! It’s a process & a build-up & there is ALWAYS room to learn more & to try new things. Don’t get overwhelmed by this my loves; use it as more of a starting point if you’re beginning a health journey & if you’re unsure where to start. Let’s be honest, walking into a health food store can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know how to navigate or aren’t super experienced when it comes to reading product & ingredient labels.
PSA: If you want to know more about how to dissect food labels, read this post – KITK’s How To Dissect A Food Label & Top Ingredients To Run Away From In Processed & Packaged Foods a.k.a. Get That Stuff Back On The Shelf, Baby!!
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1. Nutritional yeast
A great dairy substitute & topping for pasta, salads, marinades, bowls, toasts, snacking with rice cakes or add in for pesto, hummus or homemade dips. It tastes like cheese, for real & it’s full of beneficial enzymes, great for gut health & contains tons of energizing B=complex vitamins, especially B12, which is a vitamin that many of us are lacking, especially if we follow a plant-based diet or if we just make an effort to eat less red meats &/or fatty fish.
My faves are by Bob’s Red Mill & Yellow Superfood.
2. Apple cider vinegar
PRO TIP: Always make sure it’s raw, organic, unfiltered & with the mother, otherwise… it’s useless & has been stripped of all its beneficial properties.
Apple cider vinegar is probably the one food I’d take with me on a desert island (okay, maybe I’d take a few others with me too, but seriously, I’m obsessed). It’s amazing for everything from boosting immunity, gut & skin health, detoxifying the liver & maintaining a healthy liver that’s best able to digest & absorb fats, proteins & carbs, creating an alkaline environment in the body & helping fight digestive issues ranging from bloating to other digestive distress or even diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders.
If you want to read more about the benefits, how to use it in recipes & how I take it every night, search apple cider vinegar on the blog or check out these posts
- The Nitty-Gritty on None Other Than APPLE CIDER VINEGAR!
- SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS, Everybody! a.k.a. Two Very Simple Ways To Incorporate More (Drinking) Probiotics Into Your Life!
My fave is by Bragg’s.
3. Coconut aminos
This stuff is literally the best substitute for soy sauce, but with 70% less sodium, tons of live beneficial enzymes that are great for gut health & zero sugar! It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure & balances blood sugar levels. And get this… I find it tastes EVEN better than soy sauce or Tamari!
My fave is by Naked Coconuts.
4. Hemp, chia & ground flaxseed
PRO TIP: Always make sure to buy your flaxseed ground or grind it yourself in your blender or food processor to ensure the beneficial properties are released & can be absorbed by your body.
Seeds are one of my main sources of plant based protein. They contain tons of anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids, vitamins + minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium + manganese & they’re great for hormones, gut health + cognitive function.
My fave chia seeds are by GoGo Quinoa, Prana or Mama Chia or you can get a large bag of them from Costco by Nature’s Intent.
5. Certified gluten-free rolled oats + steel cut oats
PRO TIP: Always check for the certified gluten free certification if you have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten to make sure to prevent issues with cross contamination!
I don’t think I need to tell you babes that I eat oats, almost daily, whether it be for breakfast in overnight oats or steel cut oats, cookies, baked treats, granola bars, homemade granola, homemade veggie burgers or in smoothies, I eat oats all the freaking time! They’re full of protein, antioxidants & an amazing source of fibre & good carbs. They promote healthy digestion, sustained & continuous energy, help regulate blood sugar levels & prevent spikes & falls in blood sugar & are great for the skin!
My fave oats are by Only Oats (Avena Foods) or Bob’s Red Mill.
6. Coconut vinegar
Like apple cider, coconut vinegar is yet another great add in for dressings, sauces, marinades because it contains tons of beneficial enzymes. It’s also fermented so it’s great for the gut & digestion, fighting bloating & other digestive issues & helps maintain a healthy pH level in the body.
7. Some healthy sweetener or syrup
My personal faves are pure organic maple syrup (always go for grade A & remember that the darker the syrup, the higher the antioxidant content), yacon syrup (amazing prebiotic fibre, which nourishes the healthy bacteria already living in your gut), coconut flower syrup & raw organic local unpasteurized honey. I also always have coconut + date sugar on hand but I use them less often.
These healthy sugar substitutes are better than white refined sugars, artificial sweeteners & sugar poly-alcohols because they are lower on the glycemic index and therefore less likely to cause spikes & falls in blood sugar levels. They provide a more sustained source of energy than refined counterparts & actually nourish our bodies to a certain extent as they contain antioxidants, vitamin C, beneficial enzymes, fibre, prebiotics & anti-microbial properties.
It is, however, important to remember that these healthier sugars are STILL SUGAR, so it’s important to be mindful about our consumption & to consume them in moderation.
My faves are:
- Maple syrup: Decacer
- Honey: Wedderspoon
- Coconut sugar: EcoIdeas or Wholesome Sweeteners
- Date sugar: Now Foods
- Coconut Flower Syrup: King Island
8. Solid coconut oil & avocado & coconut oil cooking sprays
I use solid coconut oil (& melt it if necessary) in many of my baking recipes. Otherwise, I don’t use much oil in my cooking. When it comes to frying, sautéing & roasting, I use cooking oil sprays. My faves are avocado & coconut. Both have tons of health benefits, fight inflammation in the body & have very high smoke points, unlike olive oil, so they’re perfect for cooking.
I also have a large bottle of avocado oil by Chosen Foods that I use every so often in sauces, marinades or roasted veggie recipes.
My fave coconut oil is by Maison Orphée, Naked Coconuts or Nutiva.
As for cooking oils, I go for Chosen Foods.
To read more about oils, click here: GROCERY TIP: The Nitty-Gritty on Chemically-Extracted, Expeller & Cold-Pressed Oils & What Oils I Use (& Don’t Use) In My KITCH!
9. Nut & seed butters
When I don’t make my own, for baking, I buy the large Kirkland brand one from Costco since I use it a lot & for smaller recipes or meals, I use organic creamy or crunchy ones. My favourites are almond, coconut, pecan, hazelnut, pumpkin + hemp.
Sunflower seed butter &/or tahini are great alternatives if you or a family member has a nut allergy.
My fave brand of nut butters is Nuts For You, Artisana & New World.
10. Organic unsweetened shredded coconut
I use this as a topping or add-in for smoothies, on top of breakfast bowls, oats, cashew or almond cream or as an add-in for baked treats. It’s also what’s needed to make homemade coconut milk, for which you can find the recipe here.
Coconut is full of brain-boosting properties, provides an amazing dose of sustained energy, a good amount of fibre, promotes healthy digestion & a healthy gut & GI tract & contains healthy fats in the form of MCTs, which are burned by the body for fuel, as opposed to being stored as fat.
My fave brand is Cuisine Camino.
11. Pure aloe Vera juice + liquid chlorophyll
These are both staples for my morning lemon water drink (a.k.a. the first thing that goes into my body every morning) & both are amazing for gut health, liver detoxification, clearing the skin, boosting energy, creating an alkaline environment in the body, promoting regularity + digestion. If you want to read more about my morning tonic, click here. (And, if you’re just starting out & you want to keep your lemon water a little simpler, click here to read about the benefits of lemon water every morning).
My fave aloe is by Lily of the Desert & chlorophyll by Land Art or Trophic.
12. Fermented turmeric + ginger
I take this every night with apple cider vinegar before I go to bed to fight the bloat, make sure my food digests properly after a full day of eating & I always wake up feeling refreshed with a flat tummy, full of energy & cleansed! It also contains tons of beneficial enzymes, energizing, brain-boosting B-vitamins, that help with skin health & also help the body be better able to absorb & digest macronutrients.
My fave is by Botanica Health.
13. Organic quinoa, brown rice or other grains (such as: buckwheat, freekeh or amaranth).
Whole & sprouted grains are another one of my main sources of plant protein, carbs, fibre + vitamins/minerals. I generally meal prep these on Sundays to have them on hand for the rest of the week for bowls, salads, meatless meatballs or as a side dish. I stay away from white rice & other white refined grains or flours & I go for sprouted &/or whole grain & organic whenever possible! To read more about how not all carbs are created equal & why you should try to limit consumption of white refined & processed carbs, click here:
My fave brands for grains are GoGo Quinoa, Lundberg Farms & TruRoots.
14. Ezekiel bread
This is basically the only gluten that I eat & the only bread that I eat. My fave is the sesame one, but the original one is great too! This bread is sprouted, which means that it’s higher in fibre, protein & other vitamins & minerals than refined or whole grains & easier on the digestive system.
15. A few cans of beans / bags of legumes (such as; black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils).
I always get the low sodium or no salt added beans & sprouted organic lentils whenever possible, for the same reason why I buy sprouted bread & grains! Beans & legumes are also another great source of plant-based protein, carbs & LOADS of fibre & they’re also rich in a lot of important vitamins, minerals & antioxidants, such as: iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus & potassium.
16. Healthy crackers, crisp bread + rice cakes for snacking
It’s always nice to have healthy crackers on hand for bowls, snacking, to crack into salads as “croutons”, to dip into hummus or homemade pestos or spreads, guacamole or salsa or to just munch on if you’re craving carbs or chips!
My fave crackers are Mary’s & Simple Mills.
My fave rice cakes are by Lundberg Farms& my fave crisp breads are the buckwheat, chestnut and fig by Pain Des Fleurs.
17. Organic medjool dates
Always make sure the only ingredient is the dates (no added sugars, preservatives or sulphurs to alter colour). Dates are a great source of fibre, energy, natural sugar, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, gut healing + amazing for energy balls & adding into smoothies, nut milks, salads or bowls.
My fave brand is Prana.
18. Pure organic vanilla extract
Vanilla is my favourite sweetener for baking & oats & breakfast bowls because it’s so much lower in sugar than other natural sources of sugar. In one teaspoon, there’s just 0.4-0.5g of sugar vs. coconut sugar or maple syrup where you’d have 4-5g). It’s also great for making healthier iced coffees! Here’s my recipe for a healthier iced coffee.
My fave brand is Simply Organic.
Always read the label and make sure it contains no added sugar or table salt. Salsa is a great add-in for bowls, pasta, lettuce wraps, tacos or as a topping for rice cakes, toast or homemade pizza!
My fave brands are Neal Brothers, Simply Natural & Neal Brother’s.
I use this as a mayo substitute in my kitchen. I seriously can’t remember the last time I used mayo! Dijon is amazing for dipping veggies, sauces, marinades, dressings, pesto etc.
Always get premium ceremonial grade matcha! I use matcha for matcha lattes (DUH) but I also add it into oats, smoothies, cookies, protein balls or other baked or raw treats. Search “matcha” on the blog if you want some inspo!
My fave is by Clef Des Champs or Matcha Ninja.
22. Healthy raw bars
Bars are great for snacking on the go or post workout. I don’t use bars as meal replacements but I still like to have them on hand.
My faves are Go Macro, Raw Rev, Elemental Superfood, Roo Bar + Simply Protein (the soy is non GMO, contrary to what some people say).
ALWAYS read the labels. Know where the sugars are coming from, stay away from additives, pectin, preservatives, refined grains or flours, gums & REFINED SUGARS & SYRUPS.
To read more about my take on healthy snacking, click here.
23. Almond milk
I make my own nut and seed milks. But for baking, I buy store-bought because I use larger quantities & it’s too expensive to use raw organic nuts all the time for baking larger quantities.
My faves are Almond Bliss & Califia Farms.
24. Almond flour
Almond flour is a great low-carb way to make recipes grain-free without compromising that beautiful crumbly on the outside & chewy on the inside texture. It’s also full of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E & antioxidants.
25. Oat flour:
Oat flour is great for baking & energy balls. It’s full of fibre, protein & antioxidants. You can also make your own by grinding oats in your blender or food processor!
Generally, I like to make my own. But, sometimes, it’s nice to have some healthy options on hand for when I don’t have time. Like when buying bars, it’s important to READ YOUR LABELS. Many bars & granola contain syrups like agave & other refined white sugars. Stay away!
My faves are Purely Elizabeth, One Degree, Elemental Superfood, Living Intentions + Granolust.
I always buy raw, unsalted + organic whenever possible.
When you’re buying peanuts, try to stick to Valencia or jungle as they are the least susceptible to mould.
I need & love nuts for snacking, energy balls, baking, salads, bowls, homemade milks & nut butters. They are so versatile & there are so many ways to use & incorporate them into recipes, from sweet to savoury, not to mention they provide so many health benefits.
My fave brands are YuPik, Prana + Elan Foods.
27. Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt
If you want to know more about why you MUST stay away from table salt, check out my full segment on my highlights on my Instagram account. But in a nutshell, table salt is actually so processed & heated at such extreme temperatures that it’s no longer real food. It’s devoid of all nutrients & so many additives, bleaches & preservatives are added to change its colour, composition & preserve its shelf life. Real good quality sea salts have so many benefits regarding digestive health, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, curbing cravings, healthy weight maintenance, healthy pH levels & heart health.
28. Plant-derived pasta from lentils, black beans, chickpeas or brown rice
These types of pasta mimic the texture of real white pasta so well but they’re so much better for you, lower on the glycemic index, more filling + satisfying, way more nutrient dense & contain so much more protein & fibre.
My fave lentil & black bean pasta are by Explore Cuisine & Tolerant Foods, my fave brown rice one by GoGo Quinoa & chickpea by Banza.
29. Chocolate chips & cacao nibs
I always go for vegan dark chocolate chips (my faves are Enjoy Life) but I also love cacao nibs because they contain no sugar, healthy fats, magnesium, zinc, iron + antioxidants & they’re delicious! I use them in oats, smoothies & baked treats. If I’m baking & feeling like I want something extra sweet or a good treat, I’ll use the chocolate chips; otherwise, I’ll go for cacao nibs.
My fave cacao nibs are by Organic Traditions & chocolate chips by Enjoy Life or Cuisine Camino.
30. Goji berries
MY NEW FAVE DRIED FRUIT. a legit superfood! So high in vitamin A & vitamin C & antioxidants. Amazing for skin health, boosting collagen production and immunity, gut health & they add a delicious natural sweet flavour to recipes!
My fave are by Botanica Health.
31. Ceylon cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon is the Bentley of cinnamon (better than cassia for heart & liver health & contains way more beneficial properties). Cinnamon is anti inflammatory, anti-microbial & anti-fugal & a great way to add natural sweetness to recipes, without excessive amounts of sugar.
32. Probiotic shots by Wildbrine:
GUT HEALTH! If you want to know why I take these daily, click here: SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS, Everybody! a.k.a. Two Very Simple Ways To Incorporate More (Drinking) Probiotics Into Your Life!
These shots are a great place to get started if you’re new to probiotics & don’t know where to start or don’t want to take a supplement daily just yet.
33. Biosil drops
I add these choline + silicon drops to my lemon water every morning. They help the body boost collagen production + promote collagen synthesis. Great for promoting healthy glowy youthful skin, preventing hair loss & thinning and strengthening nails & bones, joints & muscle tissue.
34. Bee pollen
Bee pollen is one of the planet’s most nutrient dense foods that contains basically every nutrient, vitamin &mineral that the human body needs to thrive. I add this to everything from smoothies to oats to salads to buckwheat bowls, as a topping on bowls or add-in for salads. It’s full of vitamin C, antioxidants, enzymes, great for gut health, energy, stamina, endurance, fighting allergies + promoting overall health. You can read more about it here.
My fave is by Naturoney.
35. Coconut flour
Coconut flour is another great way to make recipes grain free. Full of fibre + healthy fats, low carb + sugar free! Gives baked treats an amazing texture & works rly well with almond & oat flour.
My fave is by Nutiva.