I am not what one would call a "healthy eater." When my mother attempted to introduce grain bead to the household, teenage Claire simply quit eating bread. Still, my mum's love of health food stores did lead to me discovering three of my favourite kitchen staples which I'm now urging everyone to add to their pantry.
All three products let you add flavour without excluding people from your dish. Whether you're feeding vegans or the gluten free, you can add acid, umami, or a bit of cheese-like goodness and still keep your friends happy. Here's how I use each:
- Liquid aminos: As I've mentioned before, this stuff is a soy sauce-like, all-purpose seasoning with tons of umami and not as much sodium. It's got a rich, slightly sweet flavour that's great in soups, stews, stir-fries, dips, and cheeseballs (especially this vegan cheeseball). Use it as you would use soy sauce, and add it to anything that needs a hint of meaty, balanced richness.
- Apple cider vinegar: There are a lot of apple cider vinegars out there, but I tend to go for unfiltered varieties which have a nice, round sweetness that tempers the acidic punch. I use it to help break down the collagen in chicken stock, I mix it into cocktails (but not like this), and I (obviously) use it in salad dressings and marinades. I do not, however, expect any sort of miracle-like heath benefits from it. If I wanted to see those, I would quit drinking alcohol and eat a carrot or seven.
- Nutritional yeast: It started out with a sprinkle on my salad at a hippie-frequented salad bar, and quickly escalated to me literally mixing the stuff with Maldon and eating if off a plate with my finger. I'm not suggesting you debase yourself with such a snack, but I am suggesting you start off by shaking on some of these golden, cheesy-but-not-cheese flakes onto some popcorn. Once you've done that, stir it into some scrambled eggs (or sous-vide egg bites), or use it to make an extra-dank vegetable broth.
Even better, you can combine all three to make a delicious and addictive vinaigrette by dumping two tablespoons of the vinegar, one tablespoon of nutritional yeast, and two teaspoons of liquid aminos in a small mason jar, along with a clove of minced garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil, and a big ol' squeeze of honey. Shake it up to emulsify, and pour it over a pile of raw green things. I don't know if Bragg products will make you that much healthier, but a pile of raw green things will certainly help.