Most of us need a little salt, fat, and sugar in our diets– otherwise we could throw our bodies completely off balance. Healthy cooking doesn’t mean ruling them out, but opting for these foods in forms that have beneficial and even medicinal properties.
Here are 7 simple kitchen pantry switches that will make your food a whole lot more wholesome and more tasty, too!
1. Instead of table salt, try Himalayan salt.
Unlike highly processed table salt– which is devoid of nutrients and can cause fluid retention– Himalayan salt has loads of trace minerals and regulates fluid balance in the body.
2. Instead of ground black pepper, try a pepper grinder.
Black pepper helps relieve indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, parasites, and respiratory congestion. However, pre-ground black pepper doesn’t deliver. It lacks the potency of freshly ground black pepper from a pepper grinder, explaining why it’s never very pungent. Switching to a pepper grinder ensures you’ll receive all of black pepper’s healing benefits.
3. Instead of butter, try ghee.
Ghee, which is clarified butter, is highly regarded in Ayurveda for its healing properties. Ghee has more medium and short-chain fats than butter, and has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol. It nourishes the body tissues and increases immunity, improves memory and intellect, stimulates the digestive fire and improves digestion– not all of which can be said for regular ‘ol butter. Because of ghee’s high smoke point, it’s a good medium for cooking. And it’s delicious spread on toast.
4. Instead of canola oil, try coconut oil.
Coconut oil is a good replacement for any cooking oil, especially canola and mysterious ‘vegetable’ oil. It’s health benefits are being touted everywhere these days, but the key is moderation. It can withstand high heat– making it excellent for cooking– and it’s a great vegan alternative to ghee.
5. Instead of plain white rice, try brown basmati rice.
Whole grains contain trace minerals, fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats, and provide energy; but regular old white rice is highly processed and devoid of such nutritional value. Basmati rice is a tasty and wholesome alternative. Brown basmati is recommended due to its high fiber content, but white basmati is a better choice for those with weaker digestion.
6. Instead of peanut butter, try almond butter.
While peanuts are not altogether bad, they can be problematic for some body types. Almond butter is a great alternative to peanut butter. In Ayurveda, almonds are considered to promote sattva: the quality of purity. They strengthen the body tissues and are nutritive for the brain and nervous system.
7. Instead of white sugar, try jaggery.
White sugar is processed with chemicals and bleaches, stripped of nutritional content, and a source of empty calories. Jaggery is a cruder, less processed form of sugar that contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. From an Ayurvedic perspective, jaggery improves the digestive fire and the flow of prana (life force). It is alkaline in nature and encourages healthy bowels.
Though these alternatives have beneficial properties, they can cause just as many problems as their lesser counterparts if taken in excess. A good rule of thumb is to use everything in moderation, including the good stuff.
(This article was also published on elephant journal.)