Here is a brief list of some of my other favourite ingredients.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is my vinegar of choice. It is rich in minerals and has a detoxifying effect on the liver. I always buy BRAGG’S raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in the amber bottle with plenty of the “mother” vinegar (the stringy protein molecules that form in authentic vinegar). Always buy in dark bottles, which prevents oxidation, and store in a cool dark place. It is fantastic to cook with. It has a tart and fruity flavour that complements many dishes and is fantastic in salad dressings, dips, purees, and sauces. It also fantastic for lifting gluten free flours in baking.
Apple cider vinegar is a good substitution for other more acidic vinegars in a lot of recipes. But it is not always appropriate. It is a lot sweeter, so reducing the sugar content of the recipe will help in balancing out the blend if you are substituting apple cider vingegar for white or brown vinegar in recipes, they have very different flavours, and I find I mostly only need one or two tablespoons to every ½ cup of regular vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has a beautiful zesty flavour, which has natural healing, cleansing and energizing properties. It is rich in potassium, and is more alkaline-forming than other vinegars. However, it is still vinegar, so should be consumed in moderation. I little bit goes a long way. I sometimes drink 2 Tbsp in an 8oz glass of water upon rising in the morning to balance out my acid/alkaline PH levels, and I drink another glass right before going to bed at night. This is also a fantastic quick “balancing elixir” if you have a food binge of too much salt or sugar. It will help restore some alkalinity, and assist in repairing some of the damage. I must admit though, I still prefer a glass of fresh lemon water, or a pinch of sodium bicarbonate in some water which does the same job and is completely alkalizing. But if you don’t have fresh lemons, head to the pantry for the apple cider vinegar!
Lecithin is found naturally in lots of different foods such as eggs, fish, grains, soybeans, peanuts and yeast. It is also found in many packaged foods because of its ability to emulsify and preserve. Lecithin also has moisturizing and lubricating properties and is also used in cosmetics and soap, as well as for paints, waxes and textiles.
Lecithin is mainly extracted from eggs and soybeans and is sold at health food stores in the form of powder, grain, liquid or capsules. It is widely taken as a dietary supplement as it is known to boost the metabolism of fats and aid in weight loss. It is also known to assist with heart health, cholesterol and arthritis, and is widely used to treat alcoholics because of its incredible regenerative affect on the liver. The body breaks lecithin into Choline, which is not only beneficial for the liver, but also fantastic for healthy brain and memory function; and general cellular regulation.
Soy lecithin is the most widely available form. It comes in little granule. A tablespoon here and there is good for helping to create a creamy texture and thicken smoothies, shakes, creams, and desserts.
Those of you with soy allergies will need to be seek the counsel of your allergist before using. Most people with a soy allergy are actually allergic to soy protein and are not affected by lecithin. However, there are people who suffer reactions to any soy derivatives. So it is wise to be tested before using soy lecithin. Make sure you purchase organic lecithin sourced from non genetically modified soy beans. You can also use egg-derived soy lecithin.
Rather than soy lecithin, I prefer sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin is extracted using a cold pressing technique without harsh chemicals and solvents. It is rich in essential fatty acids and comes in a dark liquid form. You can purchase this from health food stores or online.
I use this sunflower lecithin as an optional ingredient in all of my plant based milks.
Brown Rice Vinegar
Brown rice vinegar is simply vinegar made from fermented brown rice. It is often referred to as the “Eastern” version of apple cider vinegar. But it has a more subtle sweet flavour. I always purchase the “Kyushu” variety from Japan, which is produced by burying the batch underground so that it ferments at a constant temperature. This produces a vinegar with a superior flavour and nutritional profile. Kyushu vinegar contains up to five times the amino acids as other brown rice vinegars.
I use it to make salad dressings, sauces, and relishes. I like it because it is less acidic than most other vinegars. But it is still vinegar and I use it in moderation. I only use a splash here and there to add a great flavour to savoury macrobiotic and Asian dishes. It is great for making sushi rice. I always buy the organic, unfiltered variety that has more balanced PH levels.
Umeboshi Plum Vinegar and Umeboshi Plum Paste
Umeboshi plums are plums pickled in sea salt. They are deep maroon red colour and are highly salty and a little bit sour. They are highly alkalizing and are fantastic for combating excessive acidity. They are sometimes referred to as “Japanese Alka-Seltzer”. They are used widely in macrobiotics for relieving digestive ailments, upset stomachs and diarrhea. Umeboshi plums aid healthy digestion, break down putrefactive material and worms in the colon, and promote the colonization of healthy bacteria by neutralizing harmful organisims. So they are fantastic for those of us suffering from candida. They also help to purify the liver.
I use umeboshi vinegar and paste in my macrobiotic dishes to add a delicious depth of flavour. I don’t consume a lot of it as it can add too much salt to the diet, and most commercial umeboshi plums available are made using refined salts.
Mirin is a subtle sweet Japanese cooking wine or sherry made by fermenting whole grain sweet rice with rice wine and alcohol. I purchase the variety (shin mirin) with the lowest alcohol content. A little dash of mirin adds a fantastic sweetness to macrobiotic and Asian sauces, dressings and marinades. I also use it to make home made teriyaki sauce.
Always purchase pure organic mirin from the health food stores. A lot of mirin found at Asian grocers has been processed with refined grain and contains additives.
Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
Commercially produced packets of gluten free bread crumbs are widely available from health food stores. But you can easily make your own by placing slices of gluten free bread in the oven at about 170C/338F and baking for about twenty minutes, until the bread is crisp by not too browned. Break into pieces and pulse in your food processor until fine. You can store these in a sealed container for about a month.
Rice crumbs, ground gluten free corn flakes make a great alternative to bread crumbs. I mainly use breadcrumbs to coat veggies balls or burgers, or to achieve that lovely golden top on casseroles and bakes.
Unsweetened Organic Apple Sauce
Unsweetened organic apple sauce is just cooked fresh apples pureed and packaged. I use this all the time in my allergy free baking as a substitute for eggs. It brings a beautiful moist texture and sweetness to baked goods and pancakes and is inexpensive.
Always purchase unsweetened organic apple sauce that has no preservatives or additives. You can purchase it in large jars (which is the more environmental option) or in small containers which are great to have handy in the pantry for baking.