Are there any foods that are new to you since following a “real food” diet, but that you now consider staples? Here are just a handful of foods I never knew existed before going all “real food” . . . and now can’t imagine living without (in no particular order, except perhaps, to some extent, reverse order of when I last used the ingredient or ate the food):
1. Organic pastured eggs. We eat them almost every day (maybe even every day, but I try to eschew hyperbole). The “eggs” sold at most grocery stores pale (quite literally) in comparison. Until about a year ago, I’d buy a dozen eggs (the factory-farmed eggs from the grocery store – *shudder*) maybe once a month or so. We now go through about 2 – 3 dozen (or more, if I’m baking) every week. I no longer buy them from regular grocery stores (and do not buy the factory-farmed stuff), but have been known to buy out the local egg merchant whenever she has them (hens lay fewer eggs in the Winter – something I did. not. know. until I began getting more of my food from local sources).
2. Raw honey. Yeah, we occasionally had a honey-like substance (likely full of HFCS and other nasties) in the cupboard in a cute plastic bear bottle that lasted a decade or more, but I had never had RAW honey before, and it’s now something I have EVERY day – in my coffee (yes, I do still drink coffee – don’t judge!). I also have cinnamon in my coffee, so am getting too natural immunity boosters first thing in the morning.
3. Coconut flour/almond flour. We’re gluten free here now, but until a couple of years ago, I had NO idea flour could be made from ANYTHING but wheat. I now use all kinds of exotic flours in baking, but these two are staples.
4. Bone broth. I make it at least 3x/month and use it on its own (just guzzle down a cup or so) or, more often, in recipes like chicken veggie soup. Until a year or so ago, I thought chicken broth (I never used anything but chicken broth then) was something you bought in a box or can at the store. Now, I have a hard time imagining using store-bought broth.
5. Coconut oil. Who knew this was so healthful and versatile? I now use it when cooking on the stove or making baked goods. I also use it on my skin and, occasionally, in oil pulling (although, admittedly, I haven’t done that very often – I forget to do it at the right times). This is now such a staple in my diet/beauty regime, it’s hard to believe I’d never even heard of it until a couple of years ago!
6. Kale – and other funky veggies I never knew about until about a year ago. I now know how to use kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, beets (I never even saw a real beet until a few months ago when I needed one for a chocolate beet cake recipe – my only knowledge was icky store-bought canned things; real beets = yum!), and many others. I can’t wait to start my garden this summer!
7. Purple zebra tomatoes (and other heirloom varieties). The ONLY reason this is down the list a ways is that I haven’t had a fresh one since September, so it’s not top-of-mind, which is a cause for great sadness. But, when they were in season (in my garden), I ate these little beauties like candy – and they are SO MUCH tastier than candy! I also discovered many different heirloom varieties last summer, in most colors of the rainbow (I don’t think I ever met a blue or indigo tomato, but ROY, G, and V were delicious).
8. Super-dark chocolate. Speaking of candy . . . Organic, 85% cacao chocolate is a good way to satisfy a chocolate tooth without processed sugar.
9. Pastured meat. Hanging my head in shame on this one – I didn’t realize the tremendous difference between this and the corn-fed variety until a couple of years ago. It’s better for us, better for the animals, and better for the environment than CAFO meat. ‘Nuff said.
10. Organic everything. As with the meat, it’s better all the way around.
What are some real foods you can’t live without, but may be relatively new to using?
- Amy Salberg, The Real Food Lawyer