These 8 Foods Will Change the Way You Cook
Coming up with ideas for unique and nutritious meals, rather than cooking the same foods over and over again, can be challenging. One great way to spruce up your menus is by adding some new foods to your pantry. With many more types of food becoming available at grocery stores and specialty markets, there are plenty of options for expanding your cooking repertoire, but how will you know which foods to try and how to use them? If you are thinking about exploring some new foods, this list of 8 foods that will change the way you cook should be a good place to start. For each food, it will provide an explanation of what it is, where to get it, and how it can be used.
1. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a creamy liquid made from the flesh of coconuts. Unlike coconut water, the liquid that occurs naturally inside of coconuts, coconut milk is made by mixing coconut flesh with water. Coconut milk can be made at home or bought at the store in cans or in cartons. High in calories and a good source of vitamins and minerals, coconut milk is used in place of milk in many international cuisines. Its thick and creamy texture makes it ideal for use in desserts, sauces, soups, stews, curries, puddings, ice creams, and pies. You can slow cook a chicken in it, add it to ramen, or use it to make dairy-free smoothies, shakes, or lattes.
2. Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is made from the root of the yucca plant, which is similar to yams, plantains, and potatoes. Cassava flour is made by peeling, drying, and grinding up the root into a powdery substance. The result is a gluten-free, nut-free flour that can be used for cooking and baking. Unlike most gluten-free flours, cassava flour is similar to wheat flour in flavor and texture and can be substituted in recipes on a 1 to 1 basis. It can be purchased online or at specialty markets and used to make breads, tortillas, crepes, tacos, and pie crusts. Keep in mind, though, that cassava flour is high in carbohydrates and calories.
Jackfruit is a very large fruit related to figs that grows in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and Africa. A mature jackfruit can weigh between 30 and 50 pounds. It has a thick green skin and a creamy white interior. With a meaty consistency and neutral taste that absorbs flavors well, jackfruit is becoming increasingly popular as a meat substitute. It has no saturated fat or cholesterol and is high in fiber and potassium. You can find whole jackfruits in Asian food stores and young jackfruit in cans or packets at grocery stores. Jackfruit can be used to make veggie pulled pork and as a meat substitute in tacos, curries, chili, stews, sandwiches, and soups.
4. Mascarpone cheese
Made from whole cream and citric or tartaric acid, mascarpone cheese is known for its smooth texture and rich, sweet, buttery flavor. You can find it in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store or make it yourself at home. Mascarpone cheese is used in desserts such as tiramisu and will add richness to just about any savory or sweet dish. You can add it to pasta dishes, soups, or dips, or spread it on a bagel instead of cream cheese. It can served topped with fruit and honey as a simple and tasty dessert. Once mascarpone cheese is opened, it must be used within a few days, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
Just about everyone loves pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but pumpkin flesh and seeds are versatile foods that can be used in many recipes. High in potassium, magnesium, fiber, protein, and vitamin K, pumpkin seeds and flesh are nutritious and easy to find. You can buy whole pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and flesh yourself, or buy packaged pumpkin seeds and canned pumpkin flesh at the market. Some great ways to use pumpkin seeds are in pumpkin seed pesto, granola, or as a topping for veggies. Pumpkin flesh can be used in soups, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin fries, or pumpkin tortellini.
Buckwheat is a gluten-free fruit seed which is rich in fiber and a complete protein. Buckwheat comes raw or toasted. Toasted buckwheat, often called kasha, is delicious combined with bow tie noodles and onions in the traditional Jewish dish, kasha varnishkes. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, and waffles can be made from buckwheat. Buckwheat has a nutty, earthy taste, and can be added to just about any recipe including cookies, soups, pancakes, and stir fries. Buckwheat can be made into a porridge or risotto and served with mushrooms. Soba noodles can be added to broth, stir fries, or miso soup.
Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, is rich in nutrients including calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamin E, and phosphorus. You can make it yourself at home, buy it at the grocery store, or order it online. Tahini is a versatile food product, which is often used to make salad dressings, hummus and baba ghanoush. It can also be used in sauces, soups and stews, pasta salad, and in desserts. This includes halvah, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and brownies. Tahini is also delicious in smoothies or spread on toast instead of peanut butter.
8. Haloumi cheese
Made from sheep’s milk on the Greek Island of Cyprus, halloumi is a cheese that is meant to be eaten grilled, fried, or baked. Halloumi, also known as grillable cheese, is soft and rennetless. It can be found at specialty markets, natural food stores, and specialty cheese shops. When grilled or fried, halloumi cheese becomes crispy on the outside and soft and melted on the inside. It can be served in salads, made into fries, or cooked with eggs for a delicious breakfast. A traditional and tasty way to prepare and serve it is grilled on skewers with watermelon.