Avocados are considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They are good for maintaining a healthy heart, helping to lose weight and a good source of fibre, just to name a few. But my favourite is they are rich in Vitamin E & C which is good for your skin and apparently helps to slow the ageing process.
In most of my recipes I prefer to use feta or goat’s cheese and occasionally parmesan cheese. Goat’s cheese contains less lactose than cheese made from cow’s milk, and is therefore easier to digest. Goat’s cheese is also generally lower in fat, cholesterol and calories.
Feta cheese is made from a mixture of predominantly sheep’s milk with some goat’s milk and is also said to be easier for your body to digest.
Parmesan cheese is packed with protein and calcium. I always choose Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is a little more expensive, but because it has a stronger flavour you don’t need to use as much.
There has been a recent resurgence in the use of coconut oil, with many studies reporting health benefits including cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, and aiding in digestion. Research has found it may also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease.
It has a much higher smoking temperature than other oils, which makes it ideal (and better) for frying and cooking at high temperatures.
I often use 400 g crushed tomatoes and by this I am referring to tins of tomatoes. Sometimes they are called crushed, sometimes diced and sometimes chopped – any of these will do.
Nuts and seeds
You will notice I use a lot of nuts and seeds, as they are a great natural source of vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre, and are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. They have many reported health benefits, but best of all I think they taste great and add another dimension to some of the recipes. Of course if there are any allergies to nuts, leave them out.
I like to use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Studies over the last few decades have reported many benefits including the assistance in reducing cardiovascular risk factors and the risk of stroke. I prefer to use locally produced Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as it is fresher with more fruity flavours and I love its clever and convenient pouring tip.
I love the slight ‘bite’ red onions add to salads and they are not as potent as brown onions. When cooking with red onion, I find it cooks faster than brown onion and also has a slightly sweeter flavour. Feel free to leave the onions out of any of the recipes or use your preferred variety.
Spelt flour, bread and pasta
Spelt is an ancient grain widely recognised for its many health benefits. It has a slightly nutty flavour and a soft and silky texture. Spelt is a great substitute for wheat, with the added bonus of making you feel fuller for longer. The gluten in spelt has a higher water solubility than wheat, so nutrients are more easily absorbed making it easy to digest. Try it – it tastes great!
White condiment (white balsamic vinegar)
White condiment, also known as white balsamic vinegar or Condimento Bianco Italiano (White Italian Dressing), is found in the vinegar section of the supermarket or in specialist delis. I regularly like to use this instead of white wine vinegar or dark balsamic vinegar.
Compared with white wine vinegar, white balsamic has a more caramel, softer flavour with less of an aftertaste. White balsamic and dark balsamic are similar, although dark balsamic is slightly sweeter and richer. The white is less overpowering and doesn’t mask other flavours in the dressing. The main reason I use white balsamic in certain recipes rather than dark is because I don’t want the colour or the intensity of the dark balsamic vinegar.
Whole roasted red peppers
The whole roasted red peppers I refer to in my recipes come in a jar or from the deli. I keep a couple of jars in my pantry and I use them often. They are usually found in the supermarket with the pickles, etc. You can choose to roast your own red peppers, but these options are so much quicker.