I often get asked what products I use and recommend, whether it be for cooking, DIY crafts, or supporting a healthy lifestyle. I know how frustrating it can be to waste money over and over again on products that don't work well (or just plain suck).
So when I find something that works great for me (after first spending hours looking at online reviews), I go out of my way to tell everyone so I can help save them time and money! I think one of the greatest joys in life is recommending good stuff to other people and watching it change their lives for the better. Wouldn't you agree?
Because of this, I'm assembling a list of my current favorite local and online resources below + a few things that are on my wishlist because I've heard such great things about them.
Please Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Should you choose to click on any of those links and purchase something through them, I may receive a tiny commission, which goes toward blogging costs. I only link to products that I use myself or fully support (and are on my wishlist). If you shop through any of these links, you have my sincerest gratitude! Thank you! :)
Real Food Products
Since I live in a big city (Dallas, Texas) I am blessed to have many choices when it comes to shopping for high-quality cooking ingredients. I've learned which stores have the best prices for my favorites and then shop the sales at places like Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Albertsons, Central Market, Trader Joe's, Aldi, Sprouts, Target, and Kroger. During the spring, summer & fall I also shop at my local Dallas Farmers Market.
However, if you live in a remote area or small town (like my sisters), then your options are probably super limited. Buying specialty food items can be pricey (if you can even find them locally).
If that's the case, I recommend online resources such as:
- Amazon (you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime and take advantage of free 2-day shipping)
- Thrive Market (it's like Whole Foods meets Costco - get 15% off your first order + free shipping on orders over $50)
- Perfect Supplements (high-quality whole food supplements & superfoods like collagen & gelatin from grass-fed cows, soil-based probiotics, and more)
- Azure Standard and VitaCost (haven't tried these, but have heard good things)
Coconut Oil: I use organic unrefined coconut oil for cooking, baking, sweet treats, bulletproof coffee, and body care recipes. I don't go a day without using it in some way. You can get two of my favorite brands online HERE or HERE through Amazon or HERE and HERE through Thrive Market.
- Related Recipes: Oven-Roasted Green Beans with Coconut Oil, Easy Coconut Rice with Coconut Milk, Homemade Maple Almond Coconut Oil Granola
Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil: These days I primarily use California olive oil in my kitchen because it is genuine, made in the U.S., and has a harvest date on the label (versus the majority of imported EVOOs, which have been shown in tests to be mixed with cheaper processed oils). I also have a bottle of EVOO from Texas Olive Ranch that I nabbed at my local Dallas Farmers Market. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find it locally, so keep an eye out! You can find my favorite California olive oils HERE and HERE on Amazon.
Pastured Butter (From Grass-Fed Cows): Butter from cows that have grazed exclusively or primarily on grass is full of vitamins and healthy fats. Look for butter that is a deep yellow for the most vitamins. Get it at your local grocery or bulk warehouse stores, seek out a dairy farm for fresh butter, or buy grass-fed butter online when it's available and freeze for later. My two favorites are Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter and Organic Valley Cultured Butter. << (Note: The prices for those butters are super inflated on Amazon, but I wanted to show you what they look like so you can check to see if you local stores sell them. My local stores charge anywhere from $2.99-3.99 for an 8 oz block. I usually buy a bunch at once when they're on sale for 2.99 or less to freeze.)
- Related Recipes: Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes with Greens), Fragrant Boiled Artichokes with Lemon Butter Dipping Sauce, Roasted Curry Chicken Thighs with Grass-Fed Butter
Ghee (From Grass-fed Cows): If you want to enjoy the nutritional & taste benefits of butter without the dairy, ghee is your next best option. I have heard rave reviews about THIS grass-fed ghee but haven't tried it yet. It's on my wishlist. In the meantime, I put Kerrygold on just about anything.
Bacon Fat: I bake thick cut uncured bacon in the oven at 400 degrees (easier & less messy than the stovetop) and once the grease has cooled, pour it through a strainer into a glass jar. I store this in the fridge and use it to cook scrambled & over easy eggs, skillet potatoes, pan-fried burgers, chicken, and sausage, and sauteed veggies. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!
Spices & Seasonings
Sea Salt: I use unrefined salt in my recipes so I can benefit from their natural minerals and the taste is stellar! My favorites right now are this Celtic sea salt, this Himalayan sea salt (mined from ancient ocean beds), and Fleur de Sel (a French finishing salt).
Ceylon Cinnamon Powder (a.k.a. true cinnamon): I love, love, love cinnamon powder! It is a great way to add a warm flavor to a bunch of dishes so you don't need to add as much (or any) sweetener. I use it almost every morning in my bulletproof coffee along with ground ginger and in my smoothies + yogurt or kefir with frozen blueberries. I buy my Ceylon cinnamon locally, but you can also find it HERE on Amazon or HERE through Mountain Rose Herbs (search for cinnamon (sweet) powder).
- Related Recipes: Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, Creamy Pan-Fried Plantains
Turmeric Root Powder: I shake turmeric root powder onto my breakfast eggs, avocado & cooked veggies for a nutritional boost. It has lots of beneficial properties, so definitely do a google search on it! Oh, and turmeric is more easily absorbed by your body when paired with black pepper and a healthy fat. You can find it HERE on Amazon, HERE on Thrive Market, and HERE on Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Related Recipes: Five Ways to Spice Up Your Bulletproof Coffee
Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: I use this vinegar when making homemade meat stock to pull minerals from the bones, for soaking beans so it makes them more digestible, and for salad dressings and sauces. It should be easy to find at most grocery stores, but you can also order my favorite brand online HERE through Amazon and HERE through Thrive Market.
- Upcycling Tip: Once you're finished with the vinegar, 32-oz Bragg bottles are awesome for holding homemade all-purpose cleaning sprays. Just stick a spray nozzle from another bottle on top & you're good to go!
Hot Pepper Sauce: My beau is obsessed with this hot sauce and I have to agree, it's pretty darn good on just about any savory food without too much heat. I mostly use it to make buffalo sauce (hot pepper sauce + melted butter), but it's his condiment of choice to give foods like breakfast burritos, potatoes, and chips extra flava flav. Look for it next to the Frank's Hot Sauce at your local grocery store (it's cheaper) and if not you can order it here. :)
Nutritional Yeast: I use this savory seasoning on roasted veggies, popcorn, potatoes, and meats. It has a "cheesy" flavor and a good amount of protein and B vitamins. Nutrition aside, it's just downright tasty. You can get my favorite brand HERE on Amazon and HERE on Thrive Market.
- Related Recipes: Roasted Cabbage Slices with Lemon, Garlic & Nutritional Yeast, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Broccoli, Tender Grass-Fed Beef & Pork Meatballs
Coconut & Other Nut Products
Full-Fat Coconut Milk: I use canned coconut milk in place of dairy milk in many recipes (I loooove raw milk, but don't always have time to drive 30 minutes one way to buy it straight from the farm) and homemade coconut milk for anything drink related like hot cocoa or pumpkin spice lattes. I typically grab either this or this when they're on sale, or stock up on the store brands from Trader Joe's (I think this one tastes the closest to homemade) and Whole Foods.
- Related Recipes: Creamy Pesto Sauce with Coconut Milk, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, Easy Coconut Rice with Coconut Milk, Creamy Pan-Fried Peaches with Cinnamon & Honey
Shredded Organic Coconut: I buy this in 1 lb. bags to make homemade coconut milk, homemade coconut flour (from the leftover pulp after fixing the milk), homemade coconut butter, and to mix into smoothies, muffin batter, trail mix, or granola. I typically buy it from my local Natural Grocers, but you can also find this brand and this brand online at a slightly cheaper cost.
Almond Milk (And Other Nut Milks): I enjoy using nut milk for drink recipes like lattes, cocoa, and white Russians; however, I can't use commercial nut milk because they all contain emulsifiers like carrageenan, which upset my stomach. Trust me, I've tried a lot of them and I always end up feeling gross after one drink. So, I use homemade almond milk and almond milk coffee creamer instead! Bonus: You can dry the leftover almond pulp to use for baked goods and snacks!
- Related Recipes: Pumpkin Spice Latte with Vanilla Almond Milk
Real Maple Syrup: Since reducing my sugar intake, I mostly use unrefined sweeteners like real maple syrup & raw local honey. Maple syrup is my favorite for pancakes, drizzling on desserts, or for sweet sauces and glazes. It's not cheap, but a little goes a long way.
- Related Recipes: Healthy Peanut Butter Balls, Maple Almond Coconut Oil Granola, Orange-Maple Mashed Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Maple Spice Pumpkin Butter
Raw Honey: I prefer to buy honey raw (unheated) so the beneficial enzymes are preserved and from a local source as close as possible to where I live. If you don't have that option, I like this Texas honey and I've heard great things about this raw honey (haven't tried it yet).
- Related Recipes: DIY Honey Lavender Lip Scrub, Creamy Pan-Fried Peaches with Cinnamon & Honey, Blood Orange Margaritas, Raw Honey Sweetened Hibiscus Tea Cocktail
Non-GMO Masa Harina: I use masa harina (corn flour) to make homemade corn tortillas and skillet cornbread when I have time. Fresh tortillas are 1000x better than store-bought ones and these have no additives or weird ingredients. You can my favorite brand HERE on Amazon.
- Related Recipes: How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas, How to Make Cornbread in a Cast-Iron Skillet, Leftover Ham Pot Pie with a Cheesy Cornbread Crust
Raw Cacao Powder: I use this cacao powder to make homemade hot cocoa, coconut oil chocolate, and dessert smoothies. It's the real stuff with no additives or extra sugar added. It has MANY uses in the kitchen. You can find my favorite brand HERE through Amazon and HERE through Thrive Market.
- Related Recipes: How to Make Hot Cocoa with Cacao Powder, Homemade Coconut Oil Chocolate Sauce, Syrup & Shell, DIY Coffee & Cacao Brown Sugar Body Scrub, Creamy Banana, Cacao & Chia Seed Smoothie
Einkorn Wheat Flour: This is currently my favorite flour because I can eat foods made with it (like dried pasta & cookies) and not fall into a carb coma afterward, like with regular flour. Einkorn is the only non-hybridized wheat available and contains more protein than modern wheat, which is why some believe it's easier for our bodies to process. I use einkorn flour from Jovial and Young Living (they own their own farm in France where they grow, harvest & process the wheat). You can find the Jovial flour HERE on Amazon and the Young Living flour HERE from their website.
- Related Recipes: Creamy Pesto Penne Pasta with Tomatoes & Asparagus
Hot Tea: I am OBSESSED with hot herbal teas right now. I drink 1-2 big cups every night before I go to bed. It's my nightly ritual and is amazing for helping me to relax, de-stress, and get sleepy. I chucked out all the brands in my cabinet that had "natural flavors" and synthetic citric acid added (totally unnecessary). This is now my favorite brand, but I also occasionally go for this one (they have some unique blends). You should be able to find both at your local health food store and maybe even big chain grocery stores. If not you can easily order them through Amazon or Thrive Market (they're slightly cheaper online).
My current favorites to drink every night (I rotate them): Chamomile with Lavender, Nighty Night (this works super well), Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Nettle Leaf, Ginger with Chamomile, Cup of Calm, and Cinnamon Stress Ease. I also drink Roasted Dandelion Root tea occasionally when I want to do a short liver detox and shed some water weight.
Coconut Water: This is such a great drink for staying hydrated, especially when mixed purified water, fresh fruit juice, sea salt, and a little honey or maple syrup to make a DIY electrolyte drink; however, if you drink it often, it can get expensive! So, I like to save it for times when I can put it to good use like after exercising, spending a lot of time outdoors, or when I'm feeling under the weather. My all-time favorite is the pink bottles of Harmless Harvest, but I only save those for special occasions because they're pricey! Normally I buy either Amy & Brian (my preferred brand), C20, or Whole Food's 365 canned coconut water when they're on sale.
- Related Recipes: Blackberry Vanilla Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
Unsweetened 100% Cranberry Juice: I use this juice for my hot lemon detox drink or when I want to give my kidneys and urinary tract some TLC. It's important to choose unsweetened 100% cranberry juice to take advantage of the health benefits. It lasts forever in your fridge if you're only using a bit at a time.
Yerba Mate: This tea will put a PEP in your STEP! It was my secret weapon in college when I worked night shifts at a bar/grill (open til 2 a.m.) and it works better than coffee for sustainable energy with no jitters or crash. I drink these cans on occasion (Lemon is my favorite) or make it at home with loose tea or bags. TIP: If you know anyone who's still drinking commercial energy drinks with all those fakey sugars and junk in them, have them try yerba mate instead!
My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
Cheese Grater: Hand grating all my cheeses saves money and lets me avoid the cellulose and additives in pre-shredded cheeses. I used a thrift store grater for awhile that took forever to get the job done and finally switched to this foldable one. Much easier!
Immersion Hand Blender: These are handy for emulsifying sauces, pureeing veggies & soups, and quickly blending bulletproof coffee! Perk: the bottom is detachable & dishwasher safe.
Electric Grinder: This handy little gadget lets me grind my coffee beans every morning, so they're super fresh. (Hint: This makes THE BEST coffee.) It's also handy for grinding other things like spices.
Cast-Iron Skillet: I use my cast-iron skillet for sauteing and pan-frying meats and veggies, baking biscuits and bread and making one pan meals like chicken pot pie and cottage pie that go from the stove-top directly to the oven. It's an inexpensive and long-lasting non-toxic option for cookware.
Large Rimmed Baking Sheet: This is my go-to tool for roasting veggies, drying out almond or coconut pulp, making kale chips, general baking purposes, and flash freezing produce. Every kitchen should have one!
Slow Cooker/Crock-Pot: I love using my 6-quart slow cooker to fix a whole chicken, shredded chicken, pork shoulder (for pulled pork/carnitas), BBQ ribs, "baked" potatoes, and chicken or beef broth. I use it all year long, but even more in the summer when I don't want to turn on the oven.
Enameled Cast-Iron French Oven: This works just like the cast-iron skillet, but is larger and lidded. It's perfect for soups, stews, slow cooking meats, pasta, sauces, bread, and one pot meals.
Electric Stand Mixer: I've used my stand mixer so far to make homemade butter, fresh whipped cream, whipped body butter, and homemade marshmallows. I plan on making mayonnaise soon and purchasing some attachments to make ice cream, bread, and possibly fresh flour!
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Okay, that's it for now. I definitely have more to share so I'll try to keep this updated from time to time. :)
If you have a question about one of these products or are curious about something you're thinking about trying, leave a comment here or shoot me an email at elainanewton [at] therisingspoon [dot] com.
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