You don’t have to go to a specialty store to pick up all your healthy pantry staples. I certainly don’t. Supermarkets are chock full of terribly unhealthy foods, but underneath it all there are quite a few nutritious (and relatively cheap) items stuck on the shelves. Basic items like brown rice, natural unsweetened yoghurt, free range eggs and lean organic meat make their way into my trolley on a routine basis. Today I am writing about a couple of lesser known items that you might like to try out.
Try something new this weekend when you do the groceries and venture down the health-food aisle to pick up one of these star ingredients.
LSA (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond) Meal
This is, as the name suggests, ground up linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds. Not exactly a taste sensation just on its own, LSA is a super-nutritious addition to your morning muesli, sprinkled over a tub of yoghurt for morning tea, added in smoothies or baked goods. LSA is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for cardiovascular and brain function. Our body can’t produce these acids so it’s important you get them in your diet. LSA is also a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. Both of these types of fibre will assist in maintaining healthy digestive function and keep your bowels happy. As an added bonus, LSA is also a source of calcium, zinc and magnesium.
How much? Just a tablespoon or so per serve is all you need. The easiest way I think is to pop it in a smoothie or stir it through your porridge just before serving (my favourite way!).
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made by the fermentation of apple juice. During this process, sugar in the apple cider is broken down by bacteria and yeast into alcohol (cider) and then into vinegar. Why is it better than other types of vinegar? The fermentation process used to create apple cider vinegar leaves it full of bacteria and enzymes which are good for your gut (as long as you get a natural one that hasn’t been refined) and may assist in improving digestion. It’s lower in sugar than other types of vinegar like red wine or balsamic varieties. There are also some studies which indicate that the acids in apple cider vinegar may help slow the digestion of starch, lowering your blood glucose and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
How to use it? Apple cider vinegar is quite versatile and I like to use it as the base for my salad dressings. For a quick dressing, combine 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a small dab of dijon mustard (or honey for a sweet dressing). I also like to drizzle a tiny bit over my steamed veggies, topped with a tiny pinch of sea salt and chilli flakes. Yum! To improve digestion, try a small glass of warm water with a tablespoon of ACV in it; drink before meals.
Buckwheat may look like a grain, but it’s actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel, making buckwheat perfect for coeliacs as it’s gluten-free. Buckwheat is relatively high in protein compared to other true grains – the second highest after oats – and is also a good source of B group vitamins (which assist our cells in metabolizing energy from food, and also help manage stress), magnesium and iron. Buckwheat contains a great amount of dietary fibre. It’s got a lower glycemic index than most true grains, so will have a more gentle effect on blood sugar levels. Added bonus? It contains a particular antioxidant called rutin, which can strength your capillaries (tiny blood vessels).
What do I do with it? Cook 1 part buckwheat to 2 parts water over a simmering heat until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. If you’re busy you can do this in your rice cooker – 1 cup of buckwheat, 2 cups of water and flick the switch. It’s a great alternative to rice or couscous. Make a yummy salad with it by tossing it with roasted beetroot, rocket leaves, pepitas and feta cheese.