5 Ingredients I Can’t Live Without

With there being so many ingredients out there, I love these 5 especially.  Keep a variety of each one on hand to create magical meals!  There is such fun in utilizing ingredients in many different ways and cooking methods.  I’ve excluded the simple pantry staples such as spices, flour, sugar, oils – the ones you normally think of. 

  1. Nuts
    • A very healthy snack and so many applications
    • Use as a crunchy topping, contrast of textures, add protein to a dish
    • Make a sauce with soaked nuts, perfect to make vegan sauces and cheeses (flavor with your favorite spices)
  2. Fresh herbs – my favorites are rosemary, thyme, sage
    • Herbs can brighten up any dish and take it to the next level; use in food or drinks to create unique combinations; simply having the smell in the kitchen or refrigerator is like a breath of fresh air
  3. Low sodium broth
    • This ingredient is so versatile because I can make a quick sauce, soup, to thin a dish out, add flavors; I especially like using this instead of water for grains and rice
    • Other ideas- use to reheat dishes and add moisture (instead of water), deglaze hot pans to keep things from sticking, when making white sauces or cream sauces use some broth to cut back on fat
  4. Beans
    • A great source of protein and great vegetarian/vegan meal option; so many to choose from with all different applications
    • Besides making great mexican food, other options are hummus, sandwich spread or dip, pot pies, in cold salads
    • They are so creamy and can easily be whipped into a recipe
  5. Cheeses
    • Snack attack, melty gooiness, sharp, ages, creamy, moldy – so many to choose from, there’s an abundance of different cheeses
    • Very unique flavors, shapes, colors from regions all over the world
    • Create a fabulous charcuterie board

Photo Credit:

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Swap Proteins to Try Healthier Dishes

Many different types of proteins can be substituted whether it be for health, flavor, or availability.  Trying new proteins, especially lean proteins can decrease your intake of fats and salt while still achieving great flavors.  Explore new options and recipes; I know I’m always researching how I can change a recipe or create a new one with ingredients I have!  Many recipes you can easily change the main protein while still using the same seasonings and marinades.  Also, changing the form of cooking such as using the grill, smoker, oven, stovetop, or braising pot can alter the flavors and textures.

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National Grapefruit Month

Happy Grapefruits!  Loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber which makes for a great breakfast.  Comes in a variety of colors – red, white, and pink.  This fruit grows mainly in Florida.  Plus they smell amazing!  Cut in half and smell the fruity aroma.  Then sprinkle with a little bit of sugar and broil in the oven for a couple minutes.  Watch as the fruit gets bubbly and golden brown.  A great healthy treat and dessert!  

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Are Salts Really That Different?

Salt is a very important cooking ingredient around the world – essential for flavoring dishes and bringing up the flavors of other ingredients..  This is made up of elements sodium and chlorine – essential for human life.  Including helping your brain and nerves send electrical impulses.1

Salt is either produced from salt mines or by evaporating ocean water and made from sodium chloride.  Less processed salts have small amounts of minerals but not substantial enough to offer nutritional benefits.  A variety of salts are usually chosen for their flavor.  For more coarse salts, the process leaves behind trace minerals and elements, which the minerals add flavor and a variety of coarseness. Larger, more coarse salts don’t dissolve as easily in foods, but best when sprinkled or finishing dishes.  Examples of when to use coarse salts are on meat or vegetables right before or after cooking.  Typically not best to use in baking recipes.  But it’s up to each person’s preference.2-3 

Differences between Sea Salt and Table Salt:





All salts have the same basic nutritional value3

Table salt: heavily processed which removes impurities, being trace minerals and is finely ground.  The only trace mineral sometimes added is Iodine to prevent goiters and low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism).  Additionally contains an anticaking agent to prevent clumps.  Iodine is great and necessary for a healthy thyroid.2-3

Kosher salt: coarse textured and larger salt that doesn’t contain Iodine.  The main difference is the structure of the flakes and different texture and flavor burst.  This is less likely to contain additives like anti-caking agents and iodine.  This salt gets its name from being used in traditional Kosher foods.1-2 

Sea salt: may contain small amounts of potassium, zinc, iron, and calcium.  This salt is not highly processed and ground like table salt.  It looks coarser and darker due to impurities (minerals).  Something to consider due to ocean pollution, this salt can also have trace amounts of heavy metals like lead.1-2 

Himalayan pink salt: harvested from mines in Pakistan and the pink color comes from iron oxide (rust), this is also not highly processed and ground like table salt.  This salt may contain small amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.  The main difference is the pink color.1-2

Celtic salt: has a grayish color and contains a bit of water so may be quite moist.  This also has trace amounts of minerals and is a bit lower in sodium.1

The more coarse and larger salts such as sea salt and kosher salt both have fewer salt granules in a teaspoon because the granules are physically bigger than table salt.  In a way, there is less salt in a teaspoon vs table salt.  Don’t substitute these salts at 1:1 ratio compared with fine table salt.1-2   

Benefits of salt:

Helps maintain adequate hydration and blood pressure levels

Important role in fluid balance thus maintains healthy blood pressure4

Amount estimated of table salt 2,300mg per teaspoon

Amount estimated of sea salt 2,000mg per teaspoon

Excessive sodium content leads to high blood pressure (hypertension) and higher risk of heart disease.4  

In my opinion, the different salts do not matter on a nutritional level.  If you’re trying to take that next step/go above and beyond, then choose a sea salt that has some minerals and is less processed.  I do like that there are different types of salts, especially to use when sprinkling on a dish.  This can taste and look great!  I would just use this sparingly because salt gets expensive, especially when finding the fancy (small production) sea or himalayan salts.    

From all the articles I read, the minerals are in such small amounts it’s not going to help much nutritionally.  Now this is my own opinion and each person has their own – this is just what I’ve concluded for myself.


  1. Gunnars, K. (2018, October 19). Types of Salt: Himalayan vs Kosher vs Regular vs Sea Salt. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/different-types-of-salt
  2. Salt and Sodium. (2020, October 19). Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/
  3. Katherine Zeratsky, R. (2019, September 24). Sea salt vs. table salt: What’s the difference? Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sea-salt/faq-20058512
  4. Streit, L. (2019, November 12). Sea Salt: Uses, Benefits, and Downsides. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sea-salt-benefits

Photo Credit:

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Free Flavor – Citrus Zest

What is better than free (or multi-use)?!  One of my favorite ingredients is citrus for the zest, juice, and flavor capabilities.  First the outside, the rind has so much strong, great flavor plus oils from the citrus.  The next layer is the juice of the citrus to use for drinking, adding to water, or using as dressings for salads and proteins.  The third part is the pulp which can be blended into smoothies, to flavor water or beverages, or used to cook with proteins.  Lastly, the rind can be used for garnishing a dish or infusing flavor.  Use a normal vegetable peeler to cut strips from the citrus to “decorate” or garnish a dish.  

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