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    Ask the Chef - Healthy Pantry

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | February 3, 2014

    Once a person has stocked up with a few (or many) favorite superfoods, the process of superfood recipe-making is usually quick to follow. Why? It's fun, easy, tastes great, and feels even better. If you need any inspiration in the culinary direction, just check out the hundreds of free superfood recipes offered here on our site!

    In the quest to respect the healthy integrity of the superfoods, I like to ensure the entire cast of ingredients within a recipe is as healthy(and of course delicious) as possible. And within this cast, there are a core group of ingredients I find myself reaching for again and again. So, in addition to our well-loved superfoods like chia seeds and maca powder, here are a few additional healthy pantry staples that are particularly helpful to have on hand to make the best superfood recipes around:

    Nuts
    Tree nuts can be reimagined and remade into all kinds of foods, from plant-based creams to crunchy toppings, making them invaluable in dishes. I particularly like having raw almonds, walnuts, and cashews on hand as they are the most versatile.

    Coconut oil
    This easily digestible healthy oil can act like both a regular oil for cooking, and also a “butter†for baking. If you're looking for a more neutral flavor, use a refined variety, which is a go-to oil for all kinds of applications. One note on storing: keep coconut oil in the pantry and not in the refrigerator, as cold temperatures make it very hard and difficult to remove the oil from the jar.

    Miso
    Even though this is a refrigerated pantry item, miso paste is a wonderful way to quickly enhance salty/savory flavor in a recipe. You can add miso paste to water for an instant soup stock, or use it in a dip along with other savory superfoods like nori powder. Because miso is a fermented product, its healthy enzymes are only available when used in low-heat applications, but it can be used in other types of recipes as well as a flavoring element.

    Liquid Sweetener
    Coconut sugar is usually the first sugar to reach for thanks to its low-glycemic index and incredible caramel-like flavor, but when a syrup is needed, yacon syrup and maple syrup are great to have on hand. In small quantities, agave syrup can be useful as well, thanks to its neutral flavor.

    Dates
    The sticky texture and potent fruit sugars in dates create another way to sweeten superfood recipes without adding refined sugar. Dates can also help to bind recipes together, making them a powerful baking and snack-making accessory. Like bananas, dates are very high in potassium.

    Apple Cider Vinegar
    Every vinegar offers slightly different flavor notes, but apple cider vinegar's mild fruitiness pairs well with many of our favorite superfruits, like goji's and mulberries, to create alluring savory-sweet recipes. Additionally, apple cider vinegar offers a host of its own health benefits, including acting as a powerful digestive aid.