Favorite Ingredients

Agave Nectar
Hands down, the número uno sweetener I go to. Harvested sap from blue agave plants (yes, of tequila fame) is filtered and heated at low temps to make the nectar. Agave nectar has a very flavorful, honey like taste and interestingly has been used for centuries not only for its taste but medicinal purposes too.

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What’s nice about agave nectar is that it naturally has a low glycemic index. Meaning, it’s sweet but doesn’t come with the unhealthy baggage of typical high fructose sugars. And my personal favorite characteristic of it is that the nectar dissolves so easily, even in ice cold beverages! I use it in iced tea, iced coffee, or any other drink I make (warm or cold). Love!

Muir Glen Tomatoes
If you haven’t noticed, in any recipe I have calling for a can of tomatoes, I recommend Muir Glen. I have no affiliation with them, I’m just a super happy consumer of their products. The crushed tomatoes are a staple in my pantry and we’ll often use the tomato or pizza sauces also. I’ll reach for these to make a quick marinara, or to use in a casserole or chili dish. Organic tomatoes and BPA-free cans, what’s not to love?!

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Tandoori Naan
Do you ever get a roll of freshly baked, crusty bread and find yourself scraping out its soft fluffy innards to eat. Uh huh, that’s me.

Well, naan bread to me is like eating that without the crusty part. But don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against some good crusty bread, I’ll gobble that up too! 🙂 Naan is basically an Indian or Middle Eastern variation of a flatbread. Look for it in your local store’s bakery. I get mine in my local market, Central Market, while I have also gotten them at Trader Joe’s before too. My guess is Whole Foods would likely have some as well. Not only is it extraordinarily tasty, but it also keeps well in the fridge without getting stale.

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It is also my not-so-secret ingredient for the best damn pizza you’ll ever make! Haha, okay, maybe that is a bit over the top. But it is really really really good! Try it and see!

Coconut Oil
I love coconut. I love the taste. I love the smell. I grew up in tropical regions of the world and my mom and grandmother used to use fresh coconut all the time. I don’t remember everything they used it for but I do recall them spending hours opening and scraping out the coconut flesh. We would drink the milk and use the oil as a moisturizer even when I was a young kid.

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These days you can get it at most health food stores or markets like Whole Foods and Central Market. It’s apparently been linked to numerous health benefits which is just an added bonus for me! If a baking recipe calls for oil, I’ll almost always substitute in coconut oil. I also lather it on my skin and it makes me feel (and smell) like a tropical goddess! Often I’ll just use a small dollop when washing my hands, face, or even my hair.

Initially it will be quite oily, so if I’m using is as a lotion I’ll typically only put it on just before bed to avoid getting the oil residue all over my wooden floors. Also, if you never have handled it before, I will warn you that it has a low melting point so it will likely melt almost immediately in your hands. However, it really is an amazing natural product. Try including it in your daily routine and perhaps it will become a favorite of yours also!

Earth Balance Butter
I use Earth Balance’s organic buttery spread for all my buttering needs, whether I’m baking a flour-less chocolate cake (which is unbelievable by the way) or just buttering up a piece of freshly baked bread. And I never feel bad about it, because its ‘good for you’ butter. All organic, vegan, gluten-free. Creamy whipped deliciousness, what more is there to say? You had me at hello. Now if only my local market carried more Earth Balance products, and my list of favorite things would have to grow.

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