As part of our Fresh Start programme, you’ll need have a few basic ingredients on hand – we call these pantry staples. We give you the lowdown on what you’ll need and some of our favourite brands for Fresh Start staples.
Use any good quality extra-virgin olive oil for vinaigrettes (e.g. Village Press, 100% Kiwi).
Extra-virgin olive oil is not suitable for frying, as it has a low smoke point (meaning it will start smoking quickly, changing the oil at a molecular level).
For roasting use olive oil or a minimally processed vegetable oil such as avocado oil, cold-pressed sunflower or rapeseed oil (e.g. Grove, Olivado, The Good Oil).
For cooking at a high heat, use a heat stable oil such avocado oil, cold-pressed sunflower or rapeseed oil (e.g. Grove, Olivado, The Good Oil).
Spray oils are great as you only use minimal amounts, meaning you are adding less calories to your meal. You can get olive oil in a spray cannister also.
Sesame oil is great for Asian dressings and marinades, bringing huge flavour with just a tiny amount. Look for 100% sesame oil (e.g. Lee Khum Kee, Harvest).
In our Fresh Start recipes we will refer to extra-virgin olive oil, olive oil and sometimes just ‘oil’. When it is generic oil, use your favourite oil that you like to cook with – this’ll typically be for roasting or cooking at a higher heat.
We suggest you choose your favourite vinegar for any vinaigrettes, but we love to use:
- Unpasteurised apple cider vinegar (e.g. Ceres Organics, Delmaine)
- Balsamic vinegar (try to get one with no added artificial colours (e.g. Lupi))
- Red or white wine vinegar (e.g. Lupi, Delmaine)
- Rice wine vinegar, occasionally used in Asian recipes, but easily substituted for white wine vinegar (e.g. Obento)
Soy sauce & fish sauce
A number of soy sauces will can contain flavour enhancers and artificial colours, so we suggest looking to a brand like Kikkoman that doesn’t contain any of these food additives. Kikkoman do a gluten free soy sauce, and Ceres Organic have a gluten free tamari sauce if needed.
Fish sauce is also great for Asian flavours, but most brands do contain a small amount of refined sugar, don’t stress as the amount is minimal so won’t hugely effect affect your overall calorie intake (e.g. Red Boat do have a refined sugar free version).
We tend to use Dijon and wholegrain (e.g. Delmaine). Check the ingredients when buying, as some have added sugar (again, don’t stress as the amount is minimal so won’t hugely effect affect your overall calorie intake).
Chilli flakes, chilli powder and/or cayenne pepper
Chilli will be an optional pantry staple in some recipes, add to suit your taste buds and heat preferences. You can also find sugar free hot sauces if you’re really into the heat! (e.g. Kaitaia Fire). Aim to avoid sweet chilli sauce though — this can add quite a lot of refined sugars.
Honey or Maple Syrup
Used in small amounts as a natural sweetener. Choose a 100% pure, natural and unrefined honey and maple syrup. Runny honey is easier to measure out too (e.g. Arataki, Ceres, Queen, O Canada).
We suggest low fat dairy as it is less calories, or unsweetened soy/almond/rice milks, however any milk that you desire (dairy free or cow’s) will be fine as we only will be using small amounts. Nutrition will be based on standard cow’s milk.
Occasionally 1–2 eggs will be needed as a pantry staple. We always recommend using free-range.
Many stocks (particularly powders) will contain refined sugars, however there are a few liquid options that don’t. Like we mentioned for the fish sauce, if you can’t find a refined sugar free stock powder, not to worry, it’s in such small quantities there won’t be any huge effects on calories!
You can always make your own chicken stock from scratch as (check out the one on the Fresh Start Blog) and freeze in portions, then use as needed. We understand that this may not be suitable for everyone, so have a look in your local supermarket for liquid stock, Ceres Organic do an organic chicken broth.
Only a small amount will be used in some recipes, opt for any 100% cornflour (e.g. Edmonds).
Salt & pepper
A little salt and freshly cracked black pepper can make a huge difference to the flavour of a dish.