My favourite ingredients
Even in addition to the entire range of fruit and vegetables, the vegan cuisine has a whole lot more to offer.
I want to introduce my favorite ingredients. Popular super foods, local heroes and spices: everything you will find here is part of the basic equipment in the Blattgold kitchen. I know this is a lot of text. But you don’t have to read it all at once…
Almonds are not nuts, even if they look alike and in most recipes are treated as if they were. Actually, they belong to the genus of the rose family – what a wonderful idea! Many years ago they were among the staple foods of people. Today and for vegans, they have managed quite a comeback!
Almonds have an alkaline effect on the body and are full of nutrients: calcium, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins and vitamin E. They contain many high quality proteins and monosaturated fatty acids, which have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
The Incas’ super grain. It looks like a grain and can be processed like one, but actually it belongs to the group of pseudo cereals and is therefore completely gluten-free. Amaranth is full of easily usable nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and iron, contains all the essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids. I usually use it in popped form, that way it is easy to scatter atop everything (e.g. on your morning bowl). But untreated grains can also be grounded into flour and replace and parts of the “normal” flour in baked goods.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the oldest known natural remedies, allegedly used by the Babylonians around 5000 BC! Despite its sour taste, it is an extremely alkaline food that makes for a good pH level in your digestive tract. Apple cider vinegar has a detoxifying effect, helps with weight loss, relieves allergies and skin problems, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and has many more great qualities. A little shot of cider vinegar stirred into a glass of water and enjoyed 15 minutes before a meal does wonders for the digestion. We always begin our day with a drink made of water, apple cider vinegar and lemon… Delicious and healing!
I recon you might be surprised to read about bee pollen in a vegan blog. I agree, bee pollen is not vegan in the true sense. But then again, it somewhat is. Despite the fact that we do need the help of bees to get to them, pollens are theoretically an herbal product. They contain no unhealthy animal proteins. Now I must say that I am a beekeeper’s daughter and granddaughter. I grew up with bees. In this respect I may have a somewhat special relationship to bee products. I also know a lot of vegans who consume pollens and honey in moderation. The quality is of course crucial and buying strictly organic an absolute must. You will never find any processed squeezy honey in our house.
But if you have access to organic bee pollen, produced from a diverse fauna, you are prone to enjoy a great gift of nature. They are infinitely precious, which is also reflected in their price. If you consider that a bee has been working 8 hours to collect a single crumb of it, the price of pollen is more than reasonable.
Pollens are among the most nutritious foods ever. They, too, contain all essential amino acids, a lot of vitamins, including vitamins A, C and the entire vitamin B complex. Their mineral content is remarkable: calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, chlorine, silicon, manganese and sulfur. In addition, pollen, like honey, carries antibacterial properties.
They are truly a small wonder weapon with the power to dramatically increase the nutritional content of any dish. My kids love them dearly – they see them as a sweet crumble. For me, they are pure vitamins in the form of a treat.
Its name is quite misleading because buckwheat has absolutely nothing to do with normal wheat. In fact, it is related to rhubarb! Despite not being a “real” grain itself, buckwheat is one of the best alternatives to grain since it is ideal for baking. Buy the whole raw grain instead of the more convenient flour. That way, the nutritional count is much higher, you are more flexible in use and in addition, it comes cheaper.
Buckwheat provides us with all essential amino acids. If you use the sprouted form, its many nutrients (B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and selenium) are even better accessible. Therefore, dried buckwheat sprouts are a very easy homemade and alkaline super-food with the power to upgrade any dish.
“In my book, as long as cacao grows on trees, chocolate counts as a fruit.” A popular quote that may be funny but of course does not ring true for most chocolate bars today. The good news is: Raw, untreated cacao is indeed very healthy. It is full of antioxidants, but is also a good supplier of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese. It provides us with essential fiber and Vitamin E.
Also, cacao makes you happy! It contains an abundance of serotonin and dopamine, which influence your mood in a positive way and enhance well-being. What better reason to indulge in raw brownies?!
In my kitchen, cashews act as the main substitute for dairy. From them, I create milk, cream and cheese. Cashews make wonderful brownies and offer so much more. They contain a wide range of minerals, like copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and are rich in vitamin K. In addition, cashews are a powerful source of tryptophan. Tryptophan helps us to get a good night’s sleep. I’m sure you agree, that’s a wonderful reason to consider them when planning your little one’s meals… And now you know what gave the slumber milk its name!
The small black seeds are counted among the healthiest foods ever. They pack a huge amount of nutrients inside their tiny bodies, among them magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B1, B2 and B3, and potassium. In addition, they contain an abundance of antioxidants and all of the essential amino acids. They are also a first-class source of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a daily item on our menu, part of our morning bowl, our smoothies or baked into our bread… They are incredibly versatile. The seeds are almost tasteless and extend considerably and quickly in liquid, making them the perfect binder for pudding and other “jelly” dishes.
They call it “The Tree of Life”. Coconut in all its forms is one of the most popular products in my kitchen.
When it comes to frying, I work exclusively with coconut oil, mostly the kind that is taste- and odourless. The fats in coconut oil do not break even at high temperatures, which makes it an ideal frying fat (as opposed to olive oil still frequently and popularly used). Coconut oil is therefore also an ideal ingredient for baking sweet as well as hearty goods.
Raw coconut oil and coconut pulp are a favourite, I love to take advantage of their incredibly healthy raw fats. For instance, I use coconut oil in these Energyballs and coconut butter for my acai smoothie.
Coconut blossom sugar (Gula Java) and coconut nectar are among my favorite sweeteners. Gula Java not only tastes deliciously like caramel, but also has a very low glycemic index, which means blood sugar levels do not rocket rapidly but behave in a slow and steady rise – for longer lasting energy. As an added bonus, coconut blossom sugar contains plenty of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, boron, zinc. sulfur and copper. Gula Java is approved by the Food and Agriculture Organization and classified as the most sustainable sugar.
Other forms of coconut I use frequently are coconut milk and coconut flakes (from which one can easily make coconut flour).
With any coconut product, it is important to pay attention to a fair and sustainable cultivation. The products by Dr. Goerg, Amanprana or Rapunzel are a good choice here.
One of my favorite sweetener of all times. You know, of course, that dates contain tons of natural sugar. However, it doesn’t hit the body as a pure sugar rush, but comes in a complete package with many nutrients that we need to metabolise them: calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper and magnesium. There is a reason dates are known as the bread of the desert. They help relieve constipation, weight problems, heart disease and strengthen the muscle tonus. Dates are quite versatile, you can consume them in smoothies, as whole fruit, as a sweet paste… They taste delightfully like toffee and satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way
In Ayurvedic medicine, they say: If you cannot cure it with ginger, do not even bother.
Much like turmeric, ginger is a super-food in the form of a tuber with countless possible applications: colds, muscle pain, stomach ache, fatigue and nausea, just to name a few. Literally, put as much ginger into your food as you can. Add a small chunk of it to your daily smoothie, drink it with your slumber milk or use it to enrich hearty Asian dishes. When it comes to ginger, a lot helps a lot!
In principle, you could live of goji berries. They are one of the most nutritious foods ever. Although they are talked about as an up- and coming super-food around our parts, they have a thousand-year-long tradition in China and Tibet, as food and as medicine (where clear separation between the two is not practiced like it is here). They contain all the essential amino acids, a lot of vitamin C, 21 minerals, including iron, calcium, zinc and selenium. In addition, gojis boost your immune system and provide you with natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial substances, as well as with a big bunch of antioxidants. It’s not just kids who love them and eat them as a snack just like they would eat gummy bears (sounds almost the same, doesn’t it?), or as a topping on their morning bowl.
We use shelled hemp seeds as our parmesan replacement. We sprinkle them atop pasta of all kinds and even our rice dishes benefit from their nutty flavor. Hemp is an excellent source of omega-3 oils, but also contains a lot of calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, iron and vitamins A, B, C, D and E. It also provides us with all essential amino acids.
In its essence, salt is life. Purified, industrial salt, also known as evaporated salt is… Let’s say it’s quite the contrary.
Himalayan salt as a 200-million-year old rock salt is unencumbered of pollutants that can be found in sea and table salt. Himalayan salt contains 84 of all 92 trace elements in the same composition in which they occur naturally in our blood.
The consumption of Himalayan salt can balance the acid-base balance in our body, flush out heavy metals, stimulate our cardiovascular system and nervous system as well as contribute to the remineralisation of our body.
Apart from Himalayan salt, the Blattgold kitchen uses only this unrefined salt, which is enriched with effective microorganisms.
As mentioned when I talked about pollen earlier in the section, our menu does contain honey, albeit in moderation. Its positive effects on health are indisputable and if one pays attention to good, fair, organic production, we have no objections against a modest and conscious consumption of this valuable natural product. Honey has antibacterial, antimycotic and antioxidant properties, so it can serve you well during many inflammatory processes. Therefore, the use of honey has proven amazingly helpful when it comes to smaller wounds, ear or skin problems, digestive problems or yeast infections.
Linseeds or flaxseeds are regularly underestimated, regional superstars. Flaxseeds are counted as a super-food because they contain lots of saturated omega-3 fatty acids, plus plenty of folic and pantothenic acid, both of which support beautiful skin and hair. As an added bonus, they are rich in fiber, protein, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium and iron. Always buy whole flaxseeds and grind them just before use. Ground flaxseed is much more expensive and does not last too long. To get the full benefit out of the valuable ingredients, it is important to eat flaxseeds in ground form. As a whole grain, it offers different advantages, the individual grains have a large swelling power and keep the intestines busy.
Ground flaxseeds have the same high binding capacity and are a wonderful egg substitute when you’re baking. We add ground flaxseeds to morning bowl and they are a vital part of all our breads
Matcha is your perfect wake-up call. But the super-food green tea from Japan has much more in store. It provides us with many essential nutrients like potassium, calcium and iron, vitamin B1, B2, B3, A, E, K and C. In addition, it is rich in chlorophyll, because unlike conventional tea, Matcha is not drunk as an infusion. Instead, the entire tea leaf is grounded into a fine powder and consumed as a whole. The concentration of antioxidants in Matcha is one of the highest in any food. All this makes it a super healthy alternative to coffee. To top it off, Matcha energy lasts much longer!
Sprouts are small, condensed nutrient bombs. Most seeds can be sprouted: their nutrient content is increased multiple times and becomes better accessible for us. Alfalfa sprouts are among the most common, but Mung beans also sprout easily and are extremely digestible. Sprouts can be eaten fresh or, as with buckwheat sprouts, enjoyed in dried form. To buy sprouts is expensive and quite unnecessary. Growing them yourself is easy as pie (pie!) and they are of course much fresher.
Sprouts can accommodate and be added to almost any dish: mixed into rice, sprinkled onto salads or pasta and even inside breads (sprouted bread, recipe coming soon). They can be used to give any meal an instant upgrade. An absolute must-have in the Blattgold kitchen.
Stevia used to have a dubious reputation in our parts of the world. As it happens, that was completely unduly and only pursuant to a study, the results of which have since been proven wrong. Stevia is in fact a major competition for the manufacturers of conventional sweetener.
Stevia is available as a powder and in the form of drops, both of which are extracted from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. This makes it a completely natural sweetener that does not affect blood sugar, has zero calories and in fact protects your teeth. In Japan, it has been one of the most popular sweeteners for years. I use stevia in drop form mostly for drinks. But you can actually sweeten anything with it. Just use it where and like you would use sugar.
Turmeric is the substance on which the greatest number of studies have been published. It is a wonderful spice that can be used versatile in sweet as well as savoury dishes. Turmeric has over 200 healing properties, including: anti-inflammatory, helps digestion, fights dementia, good for the cardiovascular system, supports the immune system, detoxifies, is an anti-oxidant, promotes joint health… Using this delicious root as often as possible will certainly pay off. Curcuma is available as a powder as well as a fresh root. This root is a main component of my golden slumber milk, whereas the powder is essential for a delicious pumpkin risotto (recipe to follow in winter).
I am very interested in herbs, especially the wild and regionally growing kind. In fact, they are the subject of my current scope of advanced training, I shall therefore update this area from time to time. For today, I do want to introduce to you my two favourites: dandelions and stinging nettles. They signify my local super heroes. Not only do regional food choices offer environmental benefits. Native plants are also the ones that are best for us and our body because the two of them have existed alongside each other for generations. We here (in Northern Germany) are genetically speaking a type of “Mecklenburg Hare”. Carrots, dandelion, potatoes, broccoli and regional herbs do us particularly well.
Dandelion is commonly still counted a weed, but in actual fact is one of the healthiest foods available. It is full of bitter substances (therefore initially should be used sparingly, otherwise it will taste too bitter), contains vitamins A, C, D, E as well as many of the vitamin group B. In addition, the dandelion provides us with a number of antioxidants, as well as magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon and Sodium. The fresh leaves are your mildest choice; we use them mainly for smoothies. The root, too, can be consumed as a food or beverage: We use it in our dandelion coffee and in raspberry dandelion syrup. Delicious and so healthy!
The stinging nettle is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. It may be used for detoxification, drainage and liver cleansing. Also, it stimulates your metabolism and improves circulation. Nettles contain lots of iron, vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. We use the leafs in our smoothie or wild herb pesto. The seeds can be eaten fresh or dried and sprinkled atop just about anything: salads, pasta, rice dishes… Or nibbled right when you pick them.