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Essential Ingredients

For The LCHF Kitchen

By Chef Craig Rodger

Here are some ingredients that make a regular appearance in LCHF cooking, including my own recipes found in What The Fat? book. A few people have wondered where to get some of the items listed, so hopefully this list will make it easier to find and use these LCHF staples. Some of the items listed are everyday essentials for my family, while others are handy to have in the pantry.

  • Psyllium

Relatively easy to come by – you can generally find it at a big supermarket in the health food aisle or alternatively at local health food stores. Otherwise you should be able to do a quick Google search to find an online store that can deliver it locally. We mainly use psyllium as an ingredient to dry mixtures out, in other words it acts like a sponge and holds liquid in place. It is almost entirely dietary fibre and some people use it in smoothies to give a fibre boost. Try out our Low Carb Bread recipe or our Gnocchi for an idea of how this ingredient is essential for LCHF.

  • Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is also available at the supermarket and is usually either described as “Virgin/Extra Virgin” or “coconut cooking oil”. The main difference between the two is the scent and flavour. The Virgin/Extra Virgin oil has a distinctive coconut flavour that is a delicious ingredient for dishes or smoothies where a coconut flavour is welcome. Sometimes (a lot of the time) a less flavoured oil is preferred so “Cooking Coconut Oil” is an ideal ingredient for cooking food where you don’t want any flavour imparted into the food. To the best of my knowledge there is no difference in the fatty acid profile of the two types of coconut oils so they are both excellent types of fat to include in your diet especially if they might replace a lower quality vegetable oil.

  • Ground Almonds

Ground almonds, almond meal and almond flour are all ingredients that can be used interchangeably for most recipes. They are useful in adding to soups, stews and smoothies for an instant hit of richness. These ingredients can also be made into crackers and pastries like the quiches pictured, as well as LCHF baking.

  • Stevia / Xylitol

These sweetener ingredients don’t raise blood sugar level anywhere near as much as regular sugar does. Stevia is extracted from plants and is therefore more “natural” than xylitol (which is also naturally occurring in nature and in the human body) which is more dependent on industrial processes. I prefer the flavour of xylitol, I also like that it is useful in the area of dental hygiene as it has anti-bacterial properties. Stevia is easier to find than xylitol, to be safe I would make the trip to a health shop to source either of these. It’s important to note that xylitol can be dangerous for pets (similar to chocolate with dogs) – ensure it is kept well away from them.

  • Chia Seeds

These seeds are a pretty amazing ingredient for LCHF cooking. They are high in protein and fat, they are also high in dietary fibre and low in useable carbohydrates (the ones that raise blood sugars the most). They absorb liquids to create a gel that can be mixed through low carb breads and cakes to improve their texture. They have a great Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio and are easy to use in smoothies as an excellent way to improve the nutritional value in a whole food way. You will find them in the health food aisles.

  • Yoghurt

Less exotic but a definite favourite. Not all yoghurt is created equal, some are laden with sugar (to be avoided of course) and some have gelling or gumming agents added to give the impression of being rich and traditionally made. I always go for “Greek” yoghurt and I will always ensure there are no gums or pectin in the label. Yoghurt is a great ingredient for a breakfast dish, mixed with some chia seeds and berries – for those days when you don’t feel like bacon and eggs!

  • Avocados

Apparently this year is going to bring a bumper crop of avocados to the shops which is pretty exciting. Look out for deals on avos and buy them up, there are purported ways to ripen avocados quickly but I take the slow food approach to ripening – buy a few in different stages of ripeness and allow them to naturally get ready over the course of the week. Avocados ripen quicker at room temperature and if you want to slow the ripening down then keep them in the fridge. I use them a lot at breakfast time as a side, a snack throughout the day if I’m hungry (with some ground rock salt), or I stir them through salads and slaws. They are also are a great ingredient for sweet treats – keep an eye out for my upcoming how-to video for chocolate avocado mousse!

  • Fibrous Vegetables

Cabbages, onions, carrots, kale, silverbeet, beetroot etc. These vegetables are a pretty boring staple but I love them! If you get yourself a decent mandolin (watch your fingers) then you can prepare amazing salads in minutes. Dress your salads with good quality fats and oils and serve with a little meat, fish or eggs for a delicious meal that is so satisfying and quick to make. Look up some recipes for dressings (you can find some in the book) and get creative.

  • Cauliflower

Make sure to pick up a cauli when you’re shopping. They are such a versatile ingredient and can be made into a bunch of different dishes, cauli rice or mash is popular in our house at this time of year. Nowadays I pick up a cauliflower at the supermarket the way I used to pick up a bag of spuds.

  • Eggs

Eggs are an amazingly useful ingredient to have on hand. They add protein, fat and deliciousness to any meal and are excellent value for money.  You can have eggs delivered through online shops and they work out to be even better value, it’s also pretty cool to buy locally and reduce the food miles.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Avatar Bianca Adtle says:

    Hi Craig
    I have the WTF book and have cooked a few recipes from there,I also look at the FB page,where else can I find recipes from?

    Thanks
    Bianca

  • Avatar Sarah Gibbons says:

    Hi Craig, I buy The Dairy Collective unsweetened yog, both the plain and Greek style, I’ve just read your blog above and checked the label for Pectin, both have it. Whats the issue with Pectin, and can you recommend a brand that doesn’t have it?
    Cheers
    Sarah

  • Avatar Faye says:

    Hi Craig,

    I thought veggies below ground were not so good for you?

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Faye,

      You’re right, generally speaking vegetables grown underground have more carbs – especially the Tubers like potatoes and kumaras. Carrots and beetroot have a sweet flavour to them but they are still low in carbs (parsnips are a little higher in carbs so I personally eat them less or cook them in a smaller ratio than other vegetables) and contain lots of beneficial nutrients and fibre unlike the Tuber family which are predominantly little bundles of starch.

      Thanks

  • Avatar marie says:

    Recently saw an opinion from a medical adviser who is sympathetic, if not more controlled than wtf, that there is some concern about psyllium, and nasty complaints.

    • What The Fat? What The Fat? says:

      Hi Marie,

      I would certainly be wary of psyllium (or xylitol) if you suffer from IBS, there is a lot to be said for lower-fibre versions of the diet where bowel complaints are concerned. On the other hand, adding fibre helps those people who can be constipated on low carb diets; it’s a case of finding what works for you.

      George

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