…these are a few of my favorite things…
Chia Seeds: Their magic is something you really need to see to believe. The first time I made a pudding with them I was so surprised it actually thickened, even though I had seen tons of recipes assuring me it would. Now that I trust them I use them all the time. They are a bit pricey. One bag typically lasts a couple of months, and I eat them almost daily. They are awesome in puddings, smoothies, granolas, raw cookies…endless possibilities. They are full of fiber and great for digestion as well.
Almond milk: Almond milk is my non-dairy milk of choice for baking and pretty much everything else. It doesn’t have the controversial reputation like soy, and is still easy to find and make at home. Store-bought almond milk is vegan, not raw, so using homemade almond milk or other nut milk is necessary for the raw version of many recipes.
Cacao powder: Cacao powder is the raw alternative to cocoa powder. It is cold-pressed keeping the temperature low enough to not destroy the abundant antioxidants, minerals, and other compounds that make cacao beans so amazing. Cocoa powder can always be substituted for a non-raw, but much cheaper alternative.
Frozen fruit: This stuff can be a lifesaver when you are in the kitchen a lot like me. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting a snack or smoothie, and realizing you don’t have enough fresh fruit in the house. I almost always have at least some fruit in the freezer to save me when I don’t plan my fruit purchases quite right. Also, fresh berries or cherries can be expensive and hard to find year round, so this is a great substitute, although never quite as perfect as fresh.
Dates: I really don’t like dates that much, but they are really versatile and useful in countless recipes. They can bind they can sweeten they can thicken. What can’t they do? I just don’t like their taste, so I only use them in recipes with lots of other flavors to overpower their characteristic taste. Most people do, I’m just weird, so give them a try. There are lots of varieties available online, but I usually just use the medjool dates found in the produce section of my grocery store.
Coconut Aminos: A soy free, lower sodium soy sauce alternative that still has all the savory flavor. I love everything about this stuff. The only ingredients are coconut sap and sea salt. It can always be substituted with soy sauce or tamari or nama shoyu in recipes if you don’t have any on hand.
Raw Rolled Oats: These are fantastic! I’m not sure how they do it, but these are just like traditional rolled oats. They taste great, they’re fairly inexpensive, and miraculously they’re raw. These are slowly becoming my dry ingredient of choice. Be sure to keep them in the fridge because they go rancid easily. It’s a good thing since it means they aren’t heated to extend the shelf life, but rancid oats taste bitter/sour.
…and some new stuff I’m experimenting with…
Coconut Palm Sugar: I’m really loving this stuff. It’s nice to have a raw, dry sweetener to use instead of agave. There are vegan and raw brands available. It undergoes much less processing than basic sugar, retaining more amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It doesn’t taste like coconut since it is from the coconut blossoms, not the coconut fruit. I think it tastes a lot like brown sugar. You can also whiz it in the blender for a bit to make your own raw powdered sugar alternative.
Lucuma Powder: This mildly sweet powder is derived from the lucuma fruit of Peru. It is used as a healthy alternative to high glycemic sweeteners in smoothies and puddings and other such recipes. I don’t love the taste of the powder by itself, but with vanilla or cinnamon or chocolate it adds a unique flavor.
Coconut nectar: A thicker, stickier, raw sweetener that is supposedly healthier than agave. It is lower than agave on the glycemic index. It also contains much less fructose (10%) than agave (70-80%). It’s not quite as sweet as agave for the same volume, but it has a lot more depth of flavor. The two are usually interchangeable in recipes, but the amount may need to be changed slightly.