I am often asked what do I need just to get started?
You are taking the first step to eat healthy and decided to try an AIP lifestyle or you just want to avoid processed foods and grains. You don't need to go and buy a shopping cart full of goods you may never even use like I did in the beginning. I have compiled what I feel are the basics for cooking healthy and feel that every pantry should have. These items will allow you to get through most recipes. Those of who cook a lot tend to be creative on the spot and we hate having to avoid a creative decision because we don't have an ingredient but those that are new to this well they want just the basics to get started and will add as they explore new foods and cooking options.
So where do we start? Flours and starches are a must need so that is where will will start. I am going to give you the simple list of flours and starches and the brands I choose to use. Will I hit them all? No way nature is full of alternatives, so lets start with the most known ones as I could have a lengthy blog otherwise.
The brands I choose are the ones I researched and feel comfortable about using, as they are organic and are not processed or have minimal processing usually to get to the right form. I try to get as close to nature as possible without let's say having to pound a cassava root in to flour myself! These are also products we carry in our AIP Marketplace so feel free to shop there.
So let's start with flour. We do not use grains which one is most versatile and what are the some of the other substitutes?
# 1 Basic Flour - Cassava Flour this is my main flour replacement for grain flours it comes from the yucca plant or manioc plant otherwise known as cassava. It is a 1:1 replacement for wheat flour and has a neutral taste with a similar "flour" consistency, the flour is dried and grated into a soft powdery form it is not a grainy flour. I love using this to bake, power oven fry/oil fry, for coating baking pans and use for other flour uses. It should be noted that cassava is high in carbs and that should be taken into consideration if you are low carb and low sugar. I personally do not eat baked goods or "floured goods" at every meal. Moderation is the key to everything. I prefer Otto's Naturals they are organic and a trusted brand. QUALITY is essential in baking and I consider this the #1 choice as processing has a lot to do with quality of a staple flour and I stand by this one. There are many more brands on the market to chose from. Keep in mind this is a gluten free and nut free option.
If you are not AIP I suggest adding almond flour, as this flour is perfect for baking most desserts. Other flours include Tapioca flour (also made from cassava/yuca but produced from the wet pulp starch of the cassava plant not the same as cassava flour above which is dried and grated), Green Banana Flour, Tigernut Flour ( tigernuts are a tubers and not a flour it has a slight sweet taste and used in some Paleo oatmeal replacement porridges), UBE ( purple yam flour used heavily in the Philippines as a baking flour for desserts).
#2 Basic Starch - Since cornstarch is out you need a replacement so what do you use when you need a thickener or a starch? I personally prefer to use arrowroot starch. Arrowroot is easily digested and the is extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant and has no taste. Now keep in mind this is not a 1:1 you need to use about a 1/3 of what you would use for regular cornstarch. If you thicken foods a lot with cornstarch you probably mix up a thickener to the side and add as you cook. Keep in mind if you add too much it is going to be jelly like so use precaution. I also use arrowroot starch in my flour preparation. When making AIP air-fried chicken or fish I will add arrowstarch to my coatings for crispiness I personally prefer Arrowhead Mills or Let's Do Organic Arrowroot Starch but other brand's like Bob's Red Mill are good too again I feel quality is so important. Another good starch to have onhand is tapioca starch made from the cassava/yuca root. Keep in mind that this is a good gluten-free and nut-free option.
Next blog we will concentrate on the next set of kitchen staples - oil, butter & soy sauce staple alternatives.
As always feel free to send me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be Healthy Happy & Wise