THE BEST INGREDIENTS
If you want to eat better, start with the best ingredients
SHOP LOCAL, EAT SEASONALLY, AND USE THE BEST BRANDS
USE THE BEST BRANDS
Brands matter, so we list exactly what we used, and why this matters. Different brands of the same product can vary immensely. With some ingredients it will not matter much, but with others, it can mean the difference between success and failure. The following is a list of ingredients where it really matters and an explanation of why. To get the same quality, and the same results you will need to use the brand listed in the recipe. If you are putting in the time to create something, it is worth it to start with the right ingredients.
- KING ARTHUR FLOUR – King Arthur is an employee-owned company that responsibly sources the wheat for their flours, and it pays off in the taste and quality. They have a “never bleached” guarantee, which means their flours don’t have an off taste or unpredictable results that can be caused by bleaching. They also carefully calibrate the protein content, which means the flour gives you the same results, every time you bake.
This also a certified B Corporation that is supporting sustainable agriculture.
GOLD MEDAL UNBLEACHED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR – lower in protein than King Arthur all purpose flour – 10.5 percent protein. This is good for baking cookies and pies, since it makes the baked goods more tender. The protein content is carefully calibrated so you get consistent results.
HORIZON DAIRY PRODUCTS – milk, cream and butter. We think Horizon products taste better than any other dairy products we have tried. This is probably because the products are organic and from family farming partners. Just as important, Horizon is a certified B corporation that has committed to becoming carbon positive across their entire supply chain by 2025. That’s a big commitment, since it’s only a few years away. Cows are a big contributor to methane production and therefore climate change, so becoming carbon positive is huge. They are reducing emissions through soil health practices and the management of the cows’ diets and manure. And they are helping their family farmer partners boost the energy efficiency of their farms.
WHOLESOME ORGANIC CANE SUGAR – produced from organic sugar cane fields that are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Burning sugar cane fields contributes to air pollution and climate change. It is also a major cause of the destruction of the rain forest. Buying sugar from fields that are green cut helps prevent this destruction.
We make our own brown sugar by adding sorgum syrup, and superfine sugar by putting it in a food processor for a minute.
DIAMOND CRYSTAL KOSHER SALT – Salt not only varies greatly in taste and texture, but it measures differently depending on the size and structure of the crystal. It’s very important to use the same brand as the original recipe to achieve the same results.
SAF RED LABEL INSTANT YEAST – I don’t know why. We just have much better results with this yeast.
HEILALA VANILLA – Ethically sourced and harvested, produced using environmentally sustainably methods. The vanilla production industry is notorious for corruption, price gauging, product misrepresentation, forest clearing, violence, and mistreatment of workers. This company produces a better product with none of these problems. They are a certified B Corporation.
TERRASOUL NUTS – This is an organic food sourcing company that does things differently. They connect directly with producers in order to offer more reasonably priced foods and the best quality ingredients in the most transparent way.
VALRHONA CHOCOLATE – Valrhona produces some of the world’s finest chocolate; unique, artisan quality chocolate with complex, balanced and consistent flavors. Additionally, they are a certified B corporation and are working to limit the environmental impact of chocolate production by becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Their chocolate is responsibly sourced from growers with whom they have long term partnerships and they have committed to assisting producers, protecting the environment and promoting innovation. Chocolate production is one of the major causes of destruction of the rain forest, and long term partnerships with stable growers is good way of preventing this destruction.
EGGS – When the recipe calls for “fresh” eggs, we get them from the local farmer’s market so we know when they were gathered. Otherwise, any eggs, preferably organic.
HONEY – we buy honey only from local beekeepers we know, or from farmers markets when we travel where we are buying directly from the beekeeper. Honey is a product that is easily adulterated, so it is important to know the source.
RANCHO GORDO BEANS – They have a huge selection of dried heirloom beans available. They also have traditional Mexican varieties from their project called The Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc project which helps small farmers continue “to grow their indigenous products in Mexico, despite international trade policies that seem to discourage genetic diversity and local food traditions.”
No Affiliates Statement
We call this our “no affiliates” statement because we accept no advertising, have no affiliates and accept no payment. We are not paid to mention brands – we just love buying the best, sharing that information and saving the planet at the same time. The effort put into writing and photographing the blog is solely based on our dedication to the cause.
MAKE IT YOURSELF
For many ingredients, there is just nothing better than homemade. With a little planning, it can be easy to keep the pantry stocked with homemade items.
PLAN FOR EATING BETTER TASTING, HEALTHIER, EASIER, AND SUSTAINABLE MEALS
Table of contents
WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
This is our weekly meal prep plan. The plan that makes it possible to eat the best tasting meals that are also healthy, easy, and sustainable. We make up a number of things on the weekend so it’s easy to put together healthy meals during the week. It starts with the basics – making sure we have things like homemade yogurt, beans and and bread on hand. We use a basic recipe and add different ingredients to each to vary the menus.
- OATMEAL – 55 minutes using the Instant Pot
- GARLIC OLIVE OIL – 30 minutes using the Instant Pot
- BEANS – 45 minutes using the Instant Pot
- CULTURED ITEM – YOGURT, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE OR CREME FRAICHE – 24 hours using the Instant Pot
- VINEGRETTE – 5 minutes
- BREAD DOUGH – WHOLE WHEAT, FRENCH, OR SWEET – refrigerate for 24 – 48 hours
- QUINOA – 30 minutes on the stove
This might sound like a lot, but each thing only takes a few minutes and then we have meals planned through Thursday. Since we do it on Sunday, we know how long these items have been in the refrigerator. If we need to stock some other items, like toasting nuts or making mayonnaise, we can do these as well. The key is to use the best ingredients- beans from Rancho Gordo, bread flour from King Arthur Baking, McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Milk products from Horizon Organic (and, no, we are not affiliates of any of these companies.)FARMERS’ MARKET
Our weekly meal prep plan also includes a visit to the farmers’ market, where we get the best tasting produce. And since we have our basics, we can shop like a chef, buying whatever looks good and is in season without having a list or a plan. We know it will fit in with the weekly meal plan because we have a basic idea of what we are having.
OUR BASIC RECIPES
and is in season without having a list or a plan. We know it will fit in with the weekly meal plan because we have a basic idea of what we are having.