Cashews Close Up

General guidelines: Choose organic if you can to avoid pesticides, read expiration dates (you often have to choose from the back of the shelf to get the freshest!) and always read the label for unwanted fillers, additives and added sugar.

Oils and Vinegars

Coconut Oil (organic, unrefined, cold press)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (organic, first cold press)
Flaxseed Oil
Duck fat (rendered from organic, pastured ducks)
Ghee (pastured, grass-fed)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Rice Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar (if sulfites aren’t an issue)


Sea Salt (unrefined Celtic, Himalayan)
Curry powder
Black pepper
Chili pepper flakes
Kelp granules
Coconut Aminos (or Tamari if soy is not an issue)
Maple syrup
Coconut palm sugar (unrefined)

Gluten-Free Whole Grains

Brown or Wild Rice
Old-fashioned rolled oats
(Other grains to experiment with are Millet & Buckwheat)

Nuts (choose organic) 

Hemp seeds
Sesame seeds
Flaxseed powder (store in refrigerator for freshness)
Chia seeds
Jar of your favorite nut butter (no added sugar or oil)

Dried Legumes & Lentils

Green or Brown Lentils
Garbanzo Beans
Black Beans
Cannellini Beans

Other Essentials to Have on Hand

Dried Seaweed (Nori sheets, Kombu, Dulse)
Organic Bone Broth/Stock (chicken, beef, vegetable)
Herbal teas
Nutritional yeast
Fresh herbs

Healthy Fats

Factors in choosing the right fat and oil for healthy meals include: quality, preparation and diversity. As a general rule, we like to reserve olive and seed oils for salad dressings and animal fat and coconut oil for sautéing and baking. Why? Heating olive and seed oils can lessen their nutrient value as well as oxidize them too quickly. Oxidized fats have been proven to damage cells and increase our risk for cancer and heart disease.

Oils to avoid: soy, corn, canola, and any oil that has been hydrogenated, refined, bleached, heat pressed, or is expired.

Keeping oils fresh: store oils in a cool, dark area away from sunlight. Add in several drops of vitamin E oil to maintain freshness longer.

My favorite fats for meal preparation include:

Coconut Oil – As a medium chain fatty acid, our body breaks it down easily. It is known to help reduce inflammation and because of its higher smoke point and is a great choice for sautéing. Coconut oil is also high in lauric acid, which fights bacteria, viruses and fungi, boosting our immune function. For the highest quality choose organic, cold pressed, unrefined varieties.

Ghee – This fat can be used by many who have protein related dairy sensitivities because the process in making ghee removes the proteins, whey and casein. Lactose content is also lessened but not completely removed. Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter, so I use it primarily for browning meats and cooking eggs. Always use ghee that is organic and from pastured, grass-fed animals*.

Duck Fat – A great choice for roasted vegetables, duck fat adds a rich gourmet flavor and nice crisp texture to food. Because it has a high percentage of mono and saturated fat, it also remains stable at high heat, which makes it suitable for browning meat as well. Again, be sure the fat comes from pastured ducks that are allowed to roam*.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – A classic base to any salad dressing EVOO enhances the flavor of many vegetables and dips. EVOO also contains phytonutrients, which have been shown to lower inflammatory markers in several research studies. Look for organic, first cold-press varieties.

Flaxseed Oil – This oil is an excellent source of Omega 3 and antioxidants especially the “high-lignan” versions. Because it is unstable, flaxseed oil should never be heated but rather added to food after being cooked, used in smoothies or added to salads. It is best to store flaxseed oil in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.

*Animal fat from pastured and grass-fed animals is important for essential fatty acid balance. Studies have shown that there is a significant increase in Omega 3 content as well as a favorable ratio of Omega 3:Omega 6 (1:1) in animals that have been grass-fed, raised organically, pastured and without antibiotics over commercially grown animals.