Coconut milk: Coconut milk – from a carton – is a fantastic ingredient to add to baked goods instead of regular cow’s milk. It’s a lot lighter and adds a very nice kind of ‘nutty’ taste to baked foods. It’s also pretty low in calories and most brands have extra calcium added in so it’s a good option for those of you wishing to do away with dairy. I go through coconut milk fairly quickly. My favorite way to use it is in protein pancakes, protein puddings, protein cakes, protein bars, and added to espresso or tea!
Coconut flour: A wonderfood. It is extremely high in fiber, gluten-free, ridiculously low in carbs, and packs a punch when in comes to protein baking. It’s very dense so, even though it’s pricey, you only need to use very little of it at a time (if you use too much of it, whatever you end up making becomes a bit hard to swallow – literally) so handle this flour with care). I’m a massive fan of its intense coconuttiness and like to add it my protein bars and to pretty much everything I bake!
100% Cocoa Powder: Well, I really don’t know what to say without breaking into adulation. Cocoa powder is low in fat (against say, a bar of chocolate), low in calories (again, versus solid cocoa), full of antioxidant goodness and absolutely glorious with every and all protein powders. It goes particularly well with brown rice protein, hemp protein powder, and I like to add it to chocolate casein as well – for that extra chocolate BOOM!!!
Almonds: Besides their being nutritional powerhouses, plain ‘natural’ almonds are extremely versatile. You can make almond milk with them by 1) soaking the almonds overnight in water, 2) throwing the water away the next day, 3) blending the soaked almonds with fresh water +/- any flavorings/sweeteners you want (e.g. like honey, dates, vanilla, etc), and 4) sieving the mixture to get rid of the solid bits. You can also use almonds to make almond butter by 1) roasting the nuts until they brown and begin to sweat (i.e. to release their fat), 2) throwing them in the mixer, 3) pulsing the hell of out of them for around 5 – 10 minutes (the mixture will be grainy at first but then AAAAA: butter!). Then, of course, you can eat almonds raw or grind them to make almond flour which you can use in protein baking!
Hulled or shelled hemp seeds: Sometimes I like to use hulled hemp seeds as a substitute for things like oats or regular flour in protein baking. They’re low carb, high in omegas, nutty, and delicious! You can add them to protein cakes and use them as a thickener for times when you want to drop your carbs without sacrificing texture. You can use them to make, for instance: protein pancakes or gluten-free protein granola. Here, hulled hemp seeds are used as a substitue for oats. You can also use them to make protein cookies!
Psyllium husk powder: Psyllium husk powder is basically just fiber. It’s absurdly low in carbs and calories. Added to hot water, psyllium husk powder turns into a glutinous mush. If you ever get some stuck on your dish-washing sponge, you’ll probably wonder “what in the NAME of….. is THIS thing on the sponge!?” because it’s like… some kind of sea creature. Don’t ever try to cook it like you would, say, porridge or use a lot of it in your baking – it’ll turn whatever you’re making into a strange gelatinous… thing. What you should do instead is use psyllium husk powder to make ultra-low-carb crepes, wraps, and tortillas!
Vanilla essence: A must in every baking kitchen. Enough said. Add it to anything and everything in the family of protein cakes, pancakes, cookies, etc. It’s especially nice added to things containing cinnamon. Nom nom nom :-D
85%-90% chocolate: I’m a big fan of the super dark chocolates. Besides their antioxidant goodness, they’re low(er) in sugar, they melt beautifully and, while bitter, add one hell of a kaPOW! to things dessert. If you’re a chocoholic and have a tendency to eat entire bars of chocolate at a time, a square of super dark chocolate might be exactly what you need. Why? Because you’ll never feel like eating the whole bar! OK, you might do but it’s not as easy as it is to eat a bar of, say, 60-70% dark chocolate. Really dark chocolate is also fantastic for coating protein bars because its dark chocolateyness compliments sweet fillings beautifully!
Orange flavored fish oil: Ahhhh this is one of my favorite things to recommend to people because it sounds so odd yet is actually really tasty. Orange flavored fish oil tastes purely of orange and not at all of fish (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be singing its praises). More than tasting of OJ though, orange flavored fish oil tastes more like orange peel – the kind that’s really good added to things like rice pudding or vanilla custard. If you and I were at a store and a bottle of orange flavored fish oil appeared before us, I would fervently urge to you get it. It’s a magical way to get fish oil into our system.
Oat flour: Usually gluten-free, high in fiber, low(er) in carbs and amazing in protein pancakes, cakes, and muffins. Oat flour adds that oaty flavor to food while giving them a thick and rich texture. You can eat it ‘raw’ too so it’s fantastic in protein bars because as it makes their filling more malleable, less packed, and softer to chew. It’s a great ingredient to have around. Remember that you don’t have to buy oat flour – you can make your own: just grab some oats (gluten-free or regular) and grind them down in a food processor or a coffee grinder until you get a powder :-)
Cinnamon: the God(dess) of Spices *sigh.* I could write odes and odes to cinnamon. It’s one of my favorite spices on earth. I go through a little jar every two weeks. What to say? Cinnamon is delicious and packed full of nutritional goodness! It’s high in manganese, fiber and also rich in calcium. Studies have also shown cinnamon to be great for balancing blood sugar, reducing inflammation, lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and stimulating immunity.
Nutritional Yeast: Ever since I got my first jar of nutritional yeast, I’ve been loving it! It’s really tasty added to sauces, chicken, pizza and/or baked into protein bread. It’s cheesy, sharp, nutty and combined with olive oil and/or soy sauce? M -> MM -> MMM!!!!!
Coconut Oil: I’m a big fan of using coconut oil to fry protein pancakes, eggs, and pretty much all the meats and vegetables I eat. Coconut oil has a butterinesss to it that fills up your kitchen with an oh-my-GOD-what-is-that-SMELL-!-? scent. There’s many nutritional benefits that have recently been flagged in relation to the consumption of coconut oil. While some are most certainly over-inflated, others appear to be well substantiated. I won’t give you a thorough bla bla bla about the debate because, the validity of different interpretations of data aside, all I wanted to say here is that it is one hell of a delicious oil to fry food on.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Added to nutritional yeast + a bit of sea salt, extra virgin olive oil is a marvelous substitute to the great olive oil + parmesan cheese combo. I like to eat my olive oil raw (i.e. uncooked) as it retains more of its nutritional properties when consumed that way. I love adding it to protein soup, salad, protein pasta, and sprinkled on top of my vegetables and on top of my protein bread!
Peanut Butter: Ahhhh…Use it raw for protein bars, bake it into protein cakes or brownies, use it to make protein chocolate cups (akin to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), use it to pancakes, crepes breads, etc. It’s high in protein and absolutely sensational.
Almond butter is very versatile and I like to use it in much the same way that I do peanut butter. Both go really well with chocolate, vanilla, and pretty much all stripes and denominations of baked goods. Remember to make it yourself though because it’s so easy and tasty! Also, when you make it yourself, you can flavor it however you want. You can, for example, add ground cocoa to it for a chocolate spread, you can add vanilla to it, you could add spices, etc.
Quinoa flakes: These are GREAT for gluten-free, grain-free baking. They’re high in fiber, add a bready texture to foods, and act as a good substitute for oats in baking. While I think I tend to use them mostly in savory protein food like breads, quinoa flakes are also good for puddings and cakes. There’s just something really nice in its rich and earthy taste. Also, quinoa is one of the highest protein gluten-free grains out there and is also really high in fiber. What’s not to love?