Stocking your Kitchen with Whole Foods

Glossary of Ingredients for Leslie Cerier, The Organic Gourmet Recipes, Cooking Classes and Cookbooks

Acai (Ah-Sigh-EE): a small, dark purple berry which is the fruit of a native South American palm tree, an antioxidant powerhouse loaded with healthy mono-saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Available in a freeze-dried power that lends a delightfully rich and creamy texture to smoothies and shakes.

Agar-agar powder, bars and flakes are flavorless.  Use it to gel jams, aspics and gelatins (kantens). Making gelatin (kanten) with agar-agar is quick and easy. Add 1-tablespoon agar-agar flakes or 1 teaspoon agar-agar powder to a cup of juice, soy milk, or stock. Bring to a boil; simmer 10 minutes for agar-agar flakes, 5 minutes for agar-agar powder, or until dissolved. Add spices, fruit, or vegetables, chill and serve.
Agar-agar is a member of the red algae seaweed family harvested off the coast of Japan. Agar-agar is processed and dried into white flakes and powder. Colorless, odorless and with no calories, agar-agar is high in calcium, iodine, trace minerals, and fiber.

Amaranth is a tiny slightly nutty flavored grain, one of the few that is a complete protein with more fiber and iron than most grains. It is delicious cooked in combination with other grains in pilafs, puddings, and porridges.

Arrowroot powder Add a tablespoon of arrowroot powder to pastries to make them lighter and fluffier.  Arrowroot is also a thickener for stews, sauces and puddings.

Bhutanese red rice is short grain rice with an earthy and nutty flavor from the Himalayas that cooks in twenty minutes. Try it plain, in combinations with other rice in sushi, pilafs, puddings, and stir-fries. One cup has 12 grams of protein and contains 8 percent of the RDA for iron.

Brown Basmati Rice is an aromatic long brown rice that cooks up light and fluffy.

Brown Rice Syrup or rice honey is thick and amber colored.  Made from cooked brown rice; it is about half as sweet as sugar.  Use it in sauces, salad dressings, puddings, frostings, pie fillings, and as a topping for pancakes.

Cacao gives you energy; rich in antioxidants, and dietary fiber, one of the highest dietary sources of magnesium, and high in iron and other minerals. It is raw and commonly used to make cacao butter, chocolate, cocoa products.

Carob powder and chips can substitute for chocolate in cakes, hot fudge, hot drinks and cookies.  Carob is caffeine-free, low in fat and rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, Vitamins A and B.  Carob tastes sweeter than chocolate.

Chia Seeds are high in protein, fiber, and essential omega fats. They are an excellent thickener, and can be used like flax seeds or eggs in any recipe.

Chinese “forbidden” black rice is medium-grained nutty flavored black rice that cooks in 30 minutes. 1 cup has 20 grams protein and offers 16 percent of the RDA for iron. It was once grown solely for the Chinese emperors to insure their good health, “forbidden” for everyone else. Serve plain, in pilafs, soups, puddings, and stir-fries.

Coconut Flour adds a rich and sweet coconut flavor to pastries. It is high fiber, and a good source of protein. When making pastries you can replace up to 20% of it in a recipe, and then add an equivalent amount of additional liquid to the recipe.

Coconut Oil is a cholesterol-free saturated fat with numerous health benefits. This semisolid white oil, extracted from fresh coconuts, enlivens savory and sweet dishes. Use it like olive oil or butter in cooking and baking.

Coconut Sugar, also known as palm sugar can be used 1:1 for sugar, AND has a low glycemic index, high in potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron vitamin C and many B vitamins. Coconut palms produce an average of 50%-75% more sugar per acre than sugar cane, while using only a fifth of the resources. Ecological and Nutritious.

Date Sugar made of dried crushed dates is 1/2-2/3 as sweet as regular sugar.  Grind it in food processor or coffee grinder for a smooth consistency or use it coarse.

Dulse is a soft, leafy, reddish-purple-brown Maine sea vegetable, perfect for a snack.  It melts in your mouth.  Kids love it.  Fry it or add it to oatmeal, soups, stews, bean dishes, or rinse it and add it to a salad in place of spinach.  Dulse is high in potassium, phosphorus, iron, protein, vitamin C, and fat.  It is unusual for seaweed to be so high in fat (3.2 grams per 100), but the fat in combination with protein, yields a nutty flavor.

Ghee is made by simmering butter to remove the milk solids to make it easier to digest; needs no refrigeration. Use it like butter for high heat cooking: frying, roasting and grilling.

Goji Berries, also known, as wolfberries are small red dried berries revered in Chinese medicine for health, vitality, stamina, and longevity. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, with more Vitamin C than oranges, more iron than spinach and more beta-carotene than carrots. Use like raisins in porridge, pilaf, and pastries.

Hemp Seeds look like sesame seeds; are softer in texture, with a mild flavor. They are a complete protein, rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, Omega 3, 6, and 9. Try them sprinkled on grains, granola, salads, yogurt, soups, dips and mixed in with flour for baking.

Hemp seed oil has a nutty flavor and golden color. Polyunsaturated, hemp oil is great in pesto, drizzling on salads, soups, and grains.

Jasmine Brown Rice is an aromatic long brown rice that cooks up moist and tender.

Kaljira Rice also known as the Prince of Rice is a tiny fragrant heirloom rice from Bengal with a low glycemic index. Cooks in 25 minutes and tastes like a baby basmati rice.  

Kelp is thin, leafy variety of kombu sea vegetable harvest off the coast of Washington and Maine.  Add it to soups, stews, and bean dishes. Try toasting and grinding it into a powder, use as a condiment for soups and popcorn.

Kudzu or Kuzu like arrowroot is a thickener for soups, stews, sauces, jellies and jam.  Oriental medicine recommends kudzu for its calming antacid effect on digestion.

Lucuma is an alternative sweetener with a naturally sweet maple flavor, packed with anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins: carotenes and Vitamin B 3. Try it in smoothies and desserts. Native to the highlands in Peru, Ecuador, and Chile.

Maca (ma-kuh) root comes from the Andes of Bolivia and Peru. Dried as a powder/flour, you can add a tablespoon to everything from pastries, smoothies, to stews to combat stress and fatigue, boost stamina and libido. Maca has a pleasing earthy, nutty flavor. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and healthy fats, a little bit goes a long way.

Madagascar Pink rice cooks in 20 minutes and has subtle sweet flavor. Its soft texture is ideal for pilafs, stir-fries, salads, and puddings. Farmed in marshy shores, this sustainable raised rice requires less water to grow for high yields.

Maqui (ma-kee) berries from Chile offers more antioxidants than any discovered fruit – with a particularly high potency of anti-aging flavonoids like anthocyanins and polyphenols. High in vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, and is a natural anti-inflammatory food. Maqui powder is a wonderful addition to smoothies.

Mesquite (mes-keet) is the edible bean-like pods (from the arid regions of the Americas) ground into a delicious flour with a smoky sweet flavor, 1-2 tablespoons in a recipe improves digestion, is high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. Tastes great in pastry recipes with vanilla and chocolate: truffles, pancakes, waffles, and smoothies.

Mirin is a sweet cooking wine made from rice.  Use it to sweeten stir-fries, soups, stews, marinades, dips, dressings, sauces, and puddings.  

Miso is a sweet salty fermented paste made from beans and/or grains and sea salt.  The light, mellow, sweet and white miso varieties, aged 3-6 months have a subtle flavor, excellent for salad dressings, creamy sauces, dips and delicate soups.  Aged 1-3 years, darker miso varieties: hearty brown rice, dandelion leek, and hatcho are saltier, stronger in flavor, and delicious in soups, casseroles and stews.

Nori (sea lettuce) is a delicate purplish-black sheet that turns green when lightly toasted.  Wrap it around rice, cooked and raw vegetables, pickles, noodles, tofu, or tempeh to make sushi, a great lunch, appetizer, or traveling snack.  Toasted and crumbled nori is a tasty garnish and condiment.  Of all the seaweed’s, it is the highest in protein, iron, vitamins A and B2, and is the only one without sodium.

Pomegranate contains lots of vitamins and minerals, especially high in Vitamin C and potassium. It is also a powerful source of antioxidant phytoestrogens, polyphenols, and anti-inflammatory essential amino acids. It has the ability to inhibit free radicals (a biological component attributed to disease and aging). Remarkably, polyphenols may inhibit estrogen synthesis, and the oil from the pomegranate seed has been proven effective against the proliferation of breast cancer cells in vitro. Pomegranate’s contribution to cardiovascular health has also been widely celebrated and it may inhibit viral infections, and can also have antibacterial effects against dental plaque. Most important it is available as a fruit, a juice and in powdered form, which is easy to add to drinks: teas, smoothies, and salad dressings.

Quinoa (keen-Wa) has a light sesame-like flavor, is quick cooking, and a complete protein. Serve quinoa plain or mixed with other grains, vegetables, herbs or spices.

Sorghum. Also known as milo, is a small round grain with the texture of pearled barley and a bland flavor. Like tofu, it takes on the flavors of herbs and spices cooked with it. Sorghum is good in marinated salads, pilafs, porridges, and soups. A small amount of sorghum flour (15%-20%) adds protein to pastries. A half-cup serving contains 11.3 grams of protein.

Sweet Brown Rice has a slightly sticky texture, a little cooked with short grain brown rice makes great sushi and grain balls.

Sea Salt contains more trace minerals and less sodium chloride than commercial salt, which has added iodine, chemicals, stabilizers or free flowing agents.  Solar dried sea salt is moist with a crystalline structure. Use it for seasoning and pastry making.

Tahini is a paste or seed butter made by grinding sesame seeds, popular in Middle Eastern cooking.  Tahini contains iron and calcium. Add tahini to sauces, spreads and stews for a rich, creamy, texture and flavor.

Tamari is a natural soy sauce made without wheat.  It is the liquid that rises to the surface in miso making. Serve on grains or to season stir-fries, stews and soups.

Teff has a moist, poppy-seed like texture, and a mildly sweet flavor reminiscent of chocolate and molasses.  8 ounce serving supplies 32% of the USRDA for calcium and 80% of the USRDA for iron. 2 ounce serving has 7 grams of protein. Teff blends well with vegetables, other grains, tofu, herbs, spices, fresh and dried fruit. When substituting teff flour for whole-wheat pastry flour, add 25% more liquid in pancakes, muffins, granola, cookies, piecrusts, and gravies.

Tempeh made from cooked and fermented soybeans has a firm, tender meat-like texture.  It is high in protein, easy to digest, cholesterol-free and delicious.  You can sauté, bake, broil, steam or simmer tempeh with vegetables, herbs and spices.  It is very versatile.  You can add it to soups, stews, casseroles, sushi and sandwiches.

Umeboshi Paste is a puree of umeboshi plums, popularly used as a spread on toasted nori when making sushi.  You can use it instead of lemon and sea salt to season salad dressings, sauces, and dips.

Umeboshi Plums are small, sweet, sour, salty, pickled plums aged for several years. Cook with grains. Season sauces, salad dressings, and use as a garnish for grain dishes.

Umeboshi Plum Vinegar (also known as “Ume”) can be used in place of tamari or lemon and salt. “Ume” has a sour (lemony) and salty flavor and a deep ruby color.  “Ume” vinegar is technically not really vinegar, but can be used like one.  It is the extracted juices from pickled, Japanese plums or apricots, shiso (beefsteak) leaves, and sea salt.  It is alkalizing instead of acidic and aids digestion.  For quick, delicious salad dressings, try olive oil and umeboshi vinegar or umeboshi vinegar, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.

Wild Rice is nutty flavored, black and slender.  Blended with other varieties of rice, sautéed vegetables, spices or nuts, wild rice makes a meal a special occasion.

Copyright 2012 Leslie Cerier, all rights reserved to Leslie Cerier

Have a great Organic Feast!