A few of my favorite things

Beetroot – I’m happy this made it to the top of the list alphabetically. I love beetroot. I love it juiced, I love it as carpaccio, I love it roasted on salads. Beetroot is an excellent liver tonic and they are packed with iron and too. Like bananas they are an great source of potassium. Don’t discard the beetroot leaves, you can use them too and they too are dense with iron, Vitamin A & C and even calcium.

Berries – I love all fruit but berries top my list. Blueberries on porridge, strawberries in salads, blackberries fresh off the bush. Picking berries is one of life’s greatest treasures for me. Try to buy organic and local where possible and always wash them well. If you have an abundance lay them on baking sheets and freeze overnight before pouring into bags and storing in the freezer – summer goodness all year round!

Broccoli – or rather all cruciferous vegetables. I love them all: Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage. To me they are one of the most versatile groups in the kitchen and they boost the goodness of any meal.

Buckwheat  – one of my favourite seeds to cook with or use raw. A seed rather than a grain, buckwheat is closely related to rhubarb. Its easy to digest, packed with protein and naturally gluten free. It is one of the easiest flours to use in baking and I think it makes the yummiest, crunchiest granola.

Cocoa – oh raw cocoa. I love you. I love the fact that you are packed with antioxidants and flavanoids, but most of all I love that you make chocolate. Raw cocoa is different from standard cocoa as it has not been heated and thus the nutritional benefits are far higher. Cocoa is a great mood booster and can help slow down the ageing process. Making your own chocolate is easy and takes five minutes and best of all – you control the added ingredients.

Coconut oil – you only need to massage coconut oil into your skin to know how amazing coconut oil it. You can heat this oil to high temperatures without affecting in and you can use it in place of any butter or oil in baking or cooking. It has a sweeter, mild taste which i love with roasted root vegetables. The fat in coconut oil is a preferred source of energy for the body (rather than being stored) and so when used properly it can actually help with weight loss. Outside the kitchen you can use coconut oil to clean your teeth as it has antibacterial properties (oil pulling), give your hair a deep condition or simply as the most natural moisturiser.

Dates – these are natures sweets to me. I use them in place of sugar in so many baked recipes. I use them instead of honey to bind ingredients together, I put them in tajines to give a sweet undertone and I stuff them with walnuts or pumpkin seeds and snack on them on rainy afternoons. Dates have a perfect calcium:magnesium ration which i find can help promote restful sleep…a few dates blended in warm milk is the greatest insomnia tonic ever!

Legumes (and beans) – I don’t know where I would be without them most days. Lentil stew, homemade hummus, black bean chocolate brownies, baked falafel. They are one of the best sources of fibre and thus an amazing blood sugar regulator. Its best to buy heirloom varieties and if you are buying them dried make sure they have been dried in the last year and store them in a cool dark place. If you are buying them tinned make sure the cans are safe.

Nuts – yes they are high in fat but it is monounsaturated fat which can actually help protect your heart.  When buying nuts try and buy organic as many commercial nuts are sprayed to extend their shelf life. You can also buy (or make) activated nuts. These have been soaked and then often baked and are easier to digest.Walnuts are my favourite for snacking on but almonds still make the best milk.Homemade nut milk, nut butters, nut crumble, power balls and bars – nuts have a permanent place in my kitchen.

Oats  – porridge makes me happy as does baked oatmeal. I grind my own oatmeal flour to bake with and love making bircher muesli and overnight oats. I also use them in homemade face masks and soaks as oats are naturally anti-inflammatory

Turmeric – I had to sneak a spice onto this list. Turmeric has amazing health benefits, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is known for alleviating joint pain. Turmeric, in Ayurveda medicine is used to support the liver and aid in detoxification. I love it in lentil stews or coating roasted cauliflower.

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