Allspice is a dried fruit and gets its name from its flavour, which seems to be a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The fruit is picked when green and ripped in the sun, when dried they are brown and look similar to a peppercorn, it is then ground for use in cooking.
Almond butter may also be called almond spread. It is finely ground down almonds to a texture resembling a paste. In my cookbook I have a recipe for roasted almond butter, which has extra flavour due to the roasting and a little organic salt added. If purchasing a commercial almond butter in a jar, make sure it's 100% almonds.
Organic almond extract manufactured by ‘Frontier Natural Flavors’ has the best flavour, and price I've found. I purchase it online from iherb.
Almond flakes are thinly sliced blanched almonds. They are also good to resemble oats in recipes.
The most favoured gluten/grain free flour substitute in my kitchen is almond meal. It is finely ground blanched almonds and is also known as almond flour. It has a slightly sweet flavour so you don’t have to add as much sweetener when baking with it. Almond meal/flour is rich in manganese which helps the body heal after injuries and also helps the body break down carbohydrates. Almond flour is also rich in magnesium, which can help control your blood sugar levels. It's rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Almonds are also a good source of calcium.
All kinds of nuts can be ground down to make a meal and are excellent for raw cheesecake or pie bases. Nut meals/flours are best stored in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer to prevent them going rancid.
A dairy free milk made from soaking almonds over night, rinsing well and blending with fresh water. Drained through a nut bag and all the liquid milk squeezed out. Recipe on page 297 of The JOYful Table cookbook, if purchasing a commercial brand, read label to avoid added sugars, gums, thickeners and preservatives.
Almonds have 240mg of calcium in 50gms, as much as is found in 200ml of milk. Nuts are a great protein snack. Eat them raw or activated and it's best to avoid store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils. When ground finely almonds make a wonderful nut meal/flour for grain-free baking.
Apple Cider Vinegar is used extensively throughout my recipes due to its health benefits. When purchasing, look for raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar ‘with the mother’ it has a cloudy appearance. Avoid malt vinegars as they are made from barley and contain gluten.
Apples can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried, they are low in kilojoules and are a good source of vitamin C, which makes them a good choice for a healthy snack. When using fresh sliced apple, the surface will go brown as oxygen from the air reacts with an enzyme in the apple flesh. This reaction can be stopped by cooking the apple or brushing with lemon juice, drying the apple slices will also kill the enzyme. Apples are high in fibre, including soluble fibre. Packed with numerous phytochemicals such as quercetin that is know to help prevent heart disease and cancer. Purchase organic if possible, apples should always be washed before eating, if they have been waxed it's best to peel them as it will prevent pesticide residues from being washed off.
Arrowroot is a herb, the roots are cultivated for its starch properties. It is used in my recipes as a thickener and I also like combining it with almond meal to produce a much lighter texture, more like a gluten flour. I find the starch helps to bind the ingredients together. You can substitute tapioca flour, which is made from the dried roots of the cassava plant. Tapioca can be used in baking, it has a slightly sweet flavour. However, I do not recommend thickening with tapioca, as it has a stretchy, gummy texture. Supermarkets only sell in very small containers, which is not cost effective. Purchase from baking specialty stores, health food stores or online. ( When substituting for cornflour in recipes, 2 teaspoons arrowroot = 1 tablespoon cornflour/starch).
Asparagus is a unique vegetable. Researchers have identified 100 phytonutrient compounds in asparagus. The nutrient-rich way of cooking asparagus is a quick simmer or saute to minimize any loss of vitamins or minerals.
Avocado oil is excellent for dressings and dips, pan frying and barbecuing, baking and roasting. Recent research on the heating of oils, has revealed avocado oil is perfect for high temperature cooking. Choose cold pressed, extra virgin, avocado oil. My favourite brand is 'Grove'. Purchase in a dark bottle and do not refrigerate.
It is often mistaken for a vegetable, the avocado is a fruit. It has a rich buttery flavour and smooth texture. Avocados are a good source of healthy fats, vitamin C, E and B6, potassium and dietary fibre, also useful amounts of iron magnesium and folate.
Choose grass-fed bacon that is nitrate free to avoid added chemicals and additives.
Baking Powder is a rising agent for baked goods. If substituting for baking soda you will need 4 times the quantity. Ensure you purchase a gluten free, no aluminum brand. Alternatively, you can make your own baking powder; 1 teaspoon of baking powder is equal to 1⁄4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1⁄2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Note, that they should only be combined when preparing your recipe.
Also known as Bicarbonate of Soda or Sodium Bicarbonate and is used as a rising agent in baking, it contains no gluten or grains. I use Bob's Red Mill baking soda as I find it rises better than other brands I've tried.
Balsamic vinegar originated from Italy, it is made from a reduction of pressed grapes and used as a condiment. Organic balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil works well over healthy salads. Avoid malt vinegars as they are made from barley and contain gluten.
In a paleo diet it's best to eat bananas in moderation. They are excellent to use to naturally sweeten a recipe and then you can reduce or eliminate other sweeteners. Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber potassium, copper, so you can see they are healthy but I find it's best just no in large qualities due to their high natural sugars.
The culinary herb basil is of the mint family. The type used in Italian dishes is sweet basil opposed to Asian dishes which may use Thai basil, lemon or holy basil. I prefer to add at the end of a recipe or toss through as I serve a dish as cooking can destroy the flavour.
Bay leaves can be used dried or fresh in cooking. The aromatic leaf is commonly used in Mediterranean, Italian and Indian dishes. Bay leaves have a herbal fragrance and are similar in flavour to oregano and thyme. They add flavour to stews, soups, sauces, meat and vegetable dishes. Having your own bay tree in a large tub in your garden is a great way to have fresh leaves on hand for your cooking.