Table of contents
IF YOU WANT TO EAT BETTER, START WITH THE BEST INGREDIENTS
If you want to eat better, start with the best ingredients – SHOP LOCAL – Shopping local is one of the best ways to find great ingredients. When you buy produce at the farmers’ market, a farm market stand, a small specialty shop, or even get it from your own garden, you get produce that is fresh and grown for flavor. That’s where you will find the best tasting produce.
EAT SEASONALLY – Seasonal food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than food consumed out of season.
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.
- King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour – 11.7 percent protein – for baking sweet breads like cinnamon rolls or sandwich breads.
- King Arthur unbleached bread flour – 12.7 percent protein – for baking heartier breads.
- King Arthur unbleached cake flour – 7.0 percent protein – for baking cakes.
This is 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.