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agave syrup
Agave syrup is marketed as a low GL natural syrup from a cactus-like plant. (low GL means that it wont challenge your blood sugar as much as other sugars). There is current debate about how good a sugar substitute agave syrup actually is, given how highly processed it often is and the high levels of fructose it usually contains. Although this may help give it its low GL qualities, as fructose on its own will not be absorbed in the GI tract, I have to wonder what effect all that leftover fructose in the gut has on bacterial balance and fermentation. Out of all the sweeteners I have looked at, raw honey seems to have the most balanced levels of fructose.

almond milk
Almond milk is a useful alternative to dairy and soya milk. You can buy it in most health food shops and itís easy to make yourself (see recipes).

Amaranth is a small seed that can be cooked as a grain, or popped like mini popcorn. Itís a complete protein, particularly rich in the amino acid lysine.

Ar ame is a kind of seaweed available from many healthfood shops. Itís very easy to use, just needing to be soaked for a short time to reconstitute it before adding it to quinoa, millet and rice dishes, soups, stews or salads.

gluten / gluten-free grains
Gluten is a protein that is found in all grains, but the amount of it in some grains is so negligible that we consider them to be "gluten-free". Gluten-free grains include rice, millet and corn. Quinoa and amaranth are also gluten-free, but theyíre not grains, theyíre seeds. Grains rich in gluten include wheat, rye, oats and barley. Many people either find that they cannot tolerate gluten, or choose to be gluten-free as it is less stressful, and therefore less dehydrating, to the body.

kelp powder
Kelp is a kind of seaweed that is particularly rich in iodine, and therefore good for supporting the thyroid and endocrine system generally. It has a fairly strong taste, so you donít need to use much of it.

Kombu is a form of kelp available in most health food shops. It usually comes in dried sheets that need cutting up and soaking to reconstitute before adding to stews etc. If you add kombu to beans as you are cooking them, then the beans wonít make you so windy!

liquid amino acids
Liquid amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and also taste quite salty so can be used as a condiment.

The safest oils to cook with are the saturated fats, i.e. animal fats and tropical oils such as coconut oil, as nature has made them able to withstand high temperatures. Butter can also be heated without denaturing - ghee (clarified butter) more so. But all other oils, including olive oil and especially flax oil, is destroyed to a lesser or greater degree in heat and exposure to air. So they are best used added as a dressing when cool, and please get the best quality you can and store carefully!

Polenta is a versatile italian cornmeal preparation whose consistency varies according to the kind of cornmeal used and what you want to cook it for. Known as the pasta of the north, polenta can be baked or grilled, it can be mixed with other vegetables and flavours, and slices of polenta can be used instead of pasta sheets in lasagne.

proteins / complete proteins
There are high levels of proteins in meat, eggs, fish and bee pollen, and these are also complete proteins, which means they contain all the essential amino acids. Quinoa and amaranth are also complete proteins. There are also high levels of proteins in nuts, seeds, beans and pulses/legumes, but these are not so easy to get at. So it is always best to soak them overnight to open them up slightly and maybe even sprout them for a day or two, to make the protein more available. Grinding nuts and seeds also helps make the protein more available. They are also not complete proteins, which means you need to combine 2 of the groups (eg. chickpeas and sesame seeds in houmous) to get your full essential amino acid profile (but not necessarily in the same meal).

rice milk
Rice milk is another useful alternative to dairy and soya milk. You can buy it in most health food shops and even supermarkets, and weíll probably have a recipe on this site for it at some stage. Do have a look at what other ingredients are in there, though!

Quinoa (often pronounced kee-nwah) is a seed that you can cook as a grain and use instead of couscous (Which is wheat-based and therefore high in gluten). Itís a complete protein, i.e. it contains all the essential amino acids that we need to get from our diet.

Sprouting is an excellent way to transform pulses, grains and seeds to make them gentler to digest and to make the nutrients and enzymes more available. Sprouts are raw, living, hydrated food. Any pulses, grains or seeds except oats and kidney beans can be sprouted see tips and ideas.

Gluten-free form of soya sauce, which is salty condiment made from fermented soya beans.

Made from fermented soya beans, tempeh is less mucous-forming than tofu, and is a useful source of protein (it contains all the essential amino acids), B12 and other B vitamins, as well as a good spectrum of minerals. Itís usually available from health food shops in blocks. Like tofu, it absorbs flavours well, but has a completely different texture.

Also known as soya bean curd, tofu is made by curdling freshly made soya milk, traditionally with nigari. Soft tofu absorbs flavours well when marinated and is good for savoury dishes. Silken tofu is much creamier and blancmange-like, and is good for desserts. Traditionally tofu is always eaten with seaweed, to support the thyroid, as soya products may challenge the thyroid.