By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
Greengrocer's sell pretty much everything you need to make loads of great tasting nutritious meals and very little of the stuff you don't need. That's why I prefer to shop in them.
There are some items I buy every week. This is my list - what's yours?
I once asked a few chefs what their secret ingredient was and most of them said lemon juice, or a little acetic acid - which as most of you know is vinegar or lemon juice.
First thing in the morning on rising a warm water with lemon juice stimulates digestion, in most meals sweet or savoury, some lemon juice enhances flavour and reduces the need to add too much salt.
The rind is also a wonderful source of the antioxidant limonene which helps to detoxify body cells.
Therapeutically, ginger helps nausea and it's also a great addition to "turn up" the flavour in most meals. Whether it's a fresh juice, smoothie, soup, stir fry, marinade or a curry a little ginger is one of those ingredients that many people forget about but once it's in there it makes all the difference.
Instead of relying on one of these bottled Asian sauces in your stir fry, blend together garlic, ginger, lemon juice with a little soy, honey and hot water and you have an all-natural sauce for a fraction of the price, and no additives.
Helpful storage tip
Keep ginger in a brown paper bag in the fridge and it will keep for ages.
Like ginger, garlic has all sorts of therapeutic benefits and its taste is unique. You don't need to drown a dish in garlic either. One or two cloves adds a pungent flavour that is so important to balance a meal.
very useful tip
If you crush garlic on a board using a knife, use the same board for onions as well and only use it for garlic and onions. That way you won't end up eating smelly apples and cheese later in the day.
Did you know that onions are the most widely used vegetable in the world and for good reason? They're inexpensive, and they're the starting point for almost every savoury winter dish. From a therapeutic point of view they are also a good functional food to protect against stomach cancer and they contain fructo - oligosaccharides, prebiotics which promote the growth of good bacteria in gut.
Whether this works for everyone or not remains to be investigated but I find a good way to stop my eyes watering after chopping onions is to run my wrists under cold water.
These days every greengrocer sells baby spinach as a salad green. Unless you shop every day this is a brilliant buy because green leafy vegetables should be enjoyed every single day and unless they're stored properly the larger leaves tend to wilt very quickly. A plastic bag of baby spinach stored in the crisper section of the fridge will keep for quite a few days and can be used in green smoothies, with poached eggs at breakfast, and with practically any meal served at dinner.
I know pears seem like the second cousin to apples but I think they are seriously under rated. Firstly no one seems to be allergic to them - a big thing in this allergic world - and secondly they're cheap, and thirdly - a well ripened pear tastes delicious.
Yummy meal idea
Slice a pear thinly and brush both sides with macadamia oil. Fry in a pan until golden and serve with chopped roasted hazelnuts, a small amount of soft goat's cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup for a healthier alternative to cheesecake!
Avert salty cooking disaster tip
Did you know that if you oversalt a dish you can throw in a potato to help absorb some of the excess saltiness? It's a good tip to save a meal that may otherwise be thrown out - just throw out the potato instead.
Potatoes have had a lot of unpopular press which is largely undeserved. It's true that some potatoes when they're baked can raise blood sugar levels quickly but that's no reason to avoid potatoes altogether. Kipfler potatoes, Dutch cream and baby chat potatoes are better buys for anyone with high blood sugar levels. Potatoes are inexpensive, rich in potassium and fibre and provided you don't eat too many and wash them with the skin left on, you can enjoy a couple of potatoes with your healthy evening meal.
One more potato tip
Cold, potatoes have more resistant starch which means they won't raise your blood sugar levels as quickly as they would when eaten hot.
What good greengrocer doesn't sell olive oil? No pantry should be without it. Olive oil is now being used even in cakes in preference to polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower oil which was once popular. In my opinion it's the best oil you can buy for health, taste and price. And you don't need to spend a fortune on imported olive oil either. Australia produces some of the finest olive oil for a great price. Olive oil is a great source of polyphenols, natural antioxidants and monounsaturated fat which help lower blood pressure.
Sensible shopping tip
Buy a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and stick with it in preference to having a number of oils on the go at the same time: That way your oils stay fresh.
During winter when fresh tomatoes are not at their best and you're much more likely to have soup for lunch than sandwiches, canned tomatoes are worth buying in bulk. In soups, casseroles, curries and stews they are an absolute winter essential.
And did you know when tomatoes are cooked they contain even more antioxidants than when they are fresh? Odd but true.
Another sensible shopping tip
When buying canned tomatoes check the ingredients and buy those with tomatoes, tomato juice, acetic acid and salt only - there's no need for thickening agents.
OK so I don't buy this every week but I always have some in the fridge - for flavour plus. Parmesan may be the cheese with the highest fat content but we don't eat it like we do cheddar or soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert. With a micro plane you can grate feather light whispers of this scrumptious cheese that can go far in a meal.
Food waste tip
Save your old Parmesan rinds for minestrone soup. Drop the rind into the soup while its cooking and it will add a richness of flavour you just can't beat.
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