September 22, 2011 by Living Girl Living Foods
The other night I was out with some coworkers and their friends, we were at a restaurant and people were asking me great questions about what is raw and what is not. They were asking me about oil, pickles, spices and so on.
So thanks to this wonderful group of people who took the time to ask me engaging questions instead of “so do you just eat salad?” I am going to tell you all how to stock your cabinets with more raw products.
The key phrase to look for with most of these products is “cold pressed.” Oils should be cold pressed because the higher the temperature of the oil the faster it is destroyed by light, oxygen, and other chemical reactions. Also, the properties of fatty acid molecules will change thus lowering their nutritional value.
I made a list according to what ingredients I think are used the most, especially when preparing uncooked meals.
Raw oils are cold-pressed oils that are unrefined, unfiltered, & haven’t been chemically treated. My four favorite types of oil are; flax oil, hemp oil, coconut oil, & olive oil.
Flax is high in Omega’s 3, 6 and 9. Most bottles of flax oil say “high legnan,” meaning there is a high concentration of flax, which has been shown to fight both breast cancer and colon. Flax oil is also known for curing skin problems like acne and eczema, healing bruises, promoting healthy hair & nails, lowering blood pressure, curing asthma & curing constipation because it is high in both the soluble and insoluble fiber. It has a slight nutty and earthy taste that is easily hidden in foods.
Hemp oil is a great source of Omega-3 & 6 and like flax it is not meant to be heated when cooking. Hemp oil is nutty and creamy, it is indeed green so be careful when testing it out because you may cause your dish to look ugly! On the positive side hemp oil contains all of the essential amino and essential fatty acids. It also contains a rare protein called globule edestins that is similar to the globulin found in human blood plasma. Both flax oil and hemp oil are perfect for dressings, drinks, dips, and so on.
Coconut oil is most likely used when creating raw desserts. It’s a great help with blending items and getting them to stick together. Coconut oil melts easily, has a wonderful nutty and sweet taste.
It’s high in medium-chain fatty acids while most consumable fats are long-chain fatty acids. The human body breaks down fats based on the size of the fatty acid chain.
Some health benefits include hair and skin health, stress relief, controlling cholesterol levels, weight loss, immune system boost, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, and bone strength. These benefits can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid (antimicrobial, antioxidant, antibacterial, soothing and so on)
There is also coconut butter and cream, which are also perfect for making desserts or adding a little coconut to a drink. My favorite coconut oil and butter are by Artisana.
Olive oil is a great anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, bone health and has been linked to improved cognitive function. There are tons of oils out there, if you are looking to try out something new some other great oils are; avocado oil, sesame oil, pumpkin seed oil, & macadamia oil.
The four most basic vinegars that I typically use are red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and coconut vinegar.
I like the taste of aged in wood red wine vinegar, it has a richer flavor and I think it keeps the vinegar from being damaged by the light and other chemical reactions. Red wine vinegar helps absorb calcium, assists in fat reduction, lowers cholesterol and is antimicrobial (inhibits bacterial growth). Red wine vinegar tastes wonderful in dressings, dips and almost everything you would use olive oil with. Sometimes I like oil and red wine vinegar and add a dash of salt, pepper and seaweed flakes over sliced tomatoes 😀 !
Like red wine vinegar, I like to purchase wood aged balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is mostly known for its anti-viral and antibacterial properties; it’s also high in antioxidants and is great for digestion. It’s ideal for marinades & making dressings.
Apple cider vinegar has a plethora of health benefits from promoting healthy skin, digestion, hair, promotes a healthy immune system & helps with allergies and many other things. I typically use this is sauces, dressings, drinks and even mix it with water and spray it on my body to clear out my skin.
Coconut vinegar has the same health benefits and more. Some argue that coconut vinegar has more health benefits than apple cider vinegar. I am more likely to use coconut vinegar, but sometimes I just can’t afford to buy it and I have to get apple cider vinegar instead. The taste is almost identical expect I think coconut vinegar has a stronger taste.
I use Eden red wine vinegar, Bariani balsamic vinegar, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar & Coconut Secret coconut vinegar. With vinegars always check the labels and make sure there are no additives or sulfating agents (sulfur based additives these not healthy and are even known to assist in asthmatic attacks).
I typically use sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Sea salt is dried in the sun and is easily accessible. Himalayan pink salt is from the Himalaya Mountains, and is known to regulate blood sugar and pH levels. It is rich in several minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, & iron. I have read from several different sources that this is the purist salt.
Three terrific options for sugar are; coconut nectar or crystals, fig or date paste and yacon or lucama.
My preferred sugar is coconut nectar or crystals. This is a great source of coconut, the texture is amazing and you can get all of the health benefits of coconut from consuming this. I’ve made my own chocolate syrups using this as the base. There are options for texture and most health food & organic markets carry this product. I use typically use coconut nectar more than the crystals, but Coconut Secret makes both products.
Fig or date paste is another alternative. For date paste you can just pit the dates and blend the dates. To make fig paste you first soak the figs, drain them once they are plump then blend them. I use either one of these typically when making desserts, cake or pie crusts are probably the most common things. This is also great for making homemade bars or to cover your homemade granola in.
Yacon and Lucama are plant-based sweeteners that come from plants in Peru. Yacon is like maple syrup, it is very thick and dark. It has an extremely strong flavor and is commonly used to replace maple syrup, honey and sugar. It has a low glyglemic levels just like coconut products. Lucama is regularly found in powder form and is great when trying to thicken something. It is high in fiber and calcium among other things. Navitas carries both products.
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