Looking to add a few new healthy ingredients to your pantry or fridge? There are plenty of unique items in your local health food stores and grocery aisles, but if you’re not sure what they are or what to do with them, it can be intimidating. Here are seven ingredients that add a nutritional boost to everyday meals.
Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and fibre, flaxseeds are a simple ingredient to add a nutritional punch to oatmeal, smoothies or baked goods. Available in both brown and golden varieties, flax has a slightly sweet taste and a crunchy texture that becomes gritty when ground, start by trying golden flax as it has a milder flavour.
Did you know? When mixed with liquid, flaxseed meal can work as an egg replacer in muffins, cookies and pancakes. Use a 1:3 ratio, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed to 3 tbsp of water.
Try it: Chocolate-walnut banana bread
2. Miso paste
Miso is a fermented-soy bean paste rich in B vitamins, manganese and zinc. Slightly salty in flavour, with a thick consistency, it is often used to add umami to soups, sauces, marinades and salad dressings. Note: Miso paste is high in sodium so use it sparingly.
Did you know? Miso paste is available in white, yellow and red varieties – lighter coloured miso has been fermented for a shorter amount of time meaning its milder in flavour.
Try it: Chicken miso noodle soup
Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented, cultured milk product that originates from Eastern Europe. With a tart and slightly sour taste, this drink can come either plain or flavoured. Packed with probiotic cultures and calcium, kefir can be enjoyed on its own or added to smoothies.
Did you know? Kefir contains tryptophan, the same amino acid that makes you drowsy after a big turkey dinner.
Try it: Making your own kefir at home.
4. Matcha powder
Matcha is a stone-ground powdered green tea rich in antioxidants. With a vibrant green colour, matcha adds earthy notes to dishes and has a slightly bitter taste. Matcha is often brewed as a tea or added to smoothies, but it’s also delicious in baked goods and desserts.
Did you know? Because matcha is ground tea leaves, it contains more caffeine than a cup of steeped tea.
Try it: Matcha ice cream
This bright yellow spice has a warm, bitter taste, and is often used in curries. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a great addition to soups, stews and rice dishes. Note: because of its deep colour, turmeric has the ability to easily stain — wash any utensils, pots, pans or cutting boards immediately when cooking with turmeric.
Did you know? Turmeric is a plant related to ginger, but its ground spice form is typically found in stores.
Try it: Moroccan chicken stew
Tahini is a creamy paste made from sesame seeds, which are high in antioxidants, protein and calcium. It has a nutty flavour and creamy, smooth texture — similar to natural peanut butter. Tahini is one of the main components of hummus, but is also makes delicious creamy salad dressings and sauces.
Did you know? Tahini is high in unsaturated fats and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Nori is paper-like edible seaweed that is typically used in Japanese cuisine — especially to wrap sushi. It is high in vitamins A and C and has a crispy, light texture. Slightly sweet, it’s a great addition to Asian-style dishes or for an afternoon snack.
Did you know? While nori is high in protein (100g has about 57g of protein), the average sheet of nori is only about 3g.
Try it: Bibimbap