Welcome to Zema’s Clean Pantry blog. I will share all of my secrets to keeping a clean, gluten free, dairy free pantry that is easy to use in your daily life. These products are minimally processed, natural and are higher in nutrients than their counterparts. Some you may have heard of some of these items or walked by them in your store’s isle or maybe never knew they existed. It took me years to figure out what works for me and my family, so take your time. After reading about my favorites, think about what you like to cook and bake and try a couple of new substitutions. One step at a time. If you try to tackle it all at once, the odds of feeling overwhelmed are greater, thus leading to failure. Keep it fun, positive and interesting.
Oils and Fats:
My personal favorite oil to use in my baked goods. Our bodies need healthy fats. Olive oil’s greatest attributes are it’s content of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidative substances. Olive oil helps to protect against heart disease by controlling LDL(bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL(good) cholesterol levels. It’s also easily absorbed by the stomach and aids in protecting against ulcers and gastritis.
EFA’s are fatty acids that the human body is not able to produce by itself. While other fatty acids can be synthesized within the human body from other components, EFAs cannot, and so they must be obtained through food sources. This is why they are “essential” elements of the human diet. Besides olive oil, EFA’s can be found in oily fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring, cod and haddock, canola oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, seeds, walnuts, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and kale. Olive oil is great for baking and high-heat cooking.
Another favorite of mine due to it’s tropical flavor and health benefits. Whenever I suggest using coconut oil in a recipe, I always get the same response, “Isn’t that bad for you?” No, unrefined, virgin coconut oil is excellent for you. The health benefits include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, healthy teeth and bone strength. These health benefits can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial.
Look for coconut oil in a jar. It comes as a solid white mass which must be melted down prior to use. It’s great in baked goods, such as Zema’s Cocoa Teff pancakes, muffins and cookies instead of olive oil for a tropical flair, or stir-fry with chicken and vegetables. It’s wonderful in curry dishes and I pop my gourmet red popcorn in it with sea salt.
This lesser known oil is excellent to use for high-heat cooking because it can withstand high temps. It’s got a very neutral flavor making it ideal for baking as well. I use it in salad dressings instead of olive oil when I am not looking for that olive taste and want to pick up more on the fresh herbs I am using. I love baking with it because it adds a nice, warm buttery taste with healthy fat benefits.