Here at Inside Out, we’re all huge fans of getting a little creative in the kitchen and making our own healthy snacks and raw desserts. Eating a healthy diet of wholesome and natural foods definitely doesn’t mean you don’t still get to indulge in lots of delicious sweet treats and the good news is, they’re pretty easy to make yourself at home too! Today we wanted to share with you our top 10 store cupboard essentials from our health and wellness blogger Charley’s Health to help you kit out your kitchen and get started!
Cashew nuts– The vast majority of raw desserts contain nuts of some kind, but I think cashews are perhaps the greatest staple and can be used to create a whole host of different dishes. Cashews are amazing for creating dairy free alternatives to things like milk, creams, yoghurt, icing and even cheesecake filling! You’ve probably heard of nut milks, but if you soak the cashew nuts and blend them with a tiny bit of liquid and natural sweetener e.g maple syrup, you can create an amazingly thick cream that could be served along side a dish or spread on top of a cake like a regular icing.
Dates- dates are a great alternative to sugar as they’re so naturally sweet, as well as being a good source of fibre too. If you use medjool dates, they’re also really gooey and sticky, so can help to stick things together to create things like granola bars, energy balls and even pastry or biscuit like bases for cakes and tarts. My favourite use for dates in desserts, is actually making my own date paste or caramel- if you blend the dates with a little water or dairy free milk, you can create the most amazingly sweet caramel to use in cakes, caramel shortbreads or just eat on it’s own!
Coconut oil- I probably don’t even need to go into the many uses for coconut oil! It’s such a staple when it comes to making raw desserts, as it helps to bind ingredients together and also set things like icings and cheesecakes, as it solidifies when you put it in the fridge or freezer. It can also be used for making your own raw chocolate if you melt it down with some cacao and sweetener of choice.
Nut butter- nut butters are a great thing to have on hand in your kitchen cupboard, as they’re so versatile and taste pretty delicious too! You can use these to help bind things together e.g energy balls and bars and they’re also a good source of protein and healthy fats. They’re also really creamy, so work amazingly when added to date caramel or mixed with a natural sweetener to make a sauce. I also add them into cakes as part of a substitute for butter.
Maple/ rice syrup- there are lots of natural sweeteners to choose from, but these two are probably the ones that I use most frequently. I love the flavour of maple syrup, and it also has a really nice runny consistency, which I find works really well when making chocolate, as it mixes in with the other ingredients really smoothly. I also love rice syrup as this is Low GI and has a slightly stickier constancy like honey, so can be great for helping to bind things together. Both of these are also fairly light in colour, so if you’re making something like a vanilla cheesecake, they won’t darken the colour too much.
Cacao powder– Making raw desserts can end up being a little pricy, so I’m not going to recommend that you go out and buy every single superfood you can think of when you’re just getting into it. My absolute favourite and staple in my kitchen would definitely be cacao powder. This is basically the raw version of cocoa powder and can be used to add an amazing chocolatey flavour to your desserts. Cacao is incredibly rich, so a little goes a long way and it’s also high in antioxidants . I use this most commonly for making my own chocolate and also raw chocolate brownies.
Desiccated coconut– this one probably depends a little bit on personal taste and if you like coconut or not.. me, I love it! Desiccated coconut is a really useful one to have to add into things like energy bites and bars for a bit of extra crunch and sweet coconutty flavour. It’s also great for making coconut macaroons or your own bounty style bars. I also use it also in cake decoration as it looks really pretty sprinkled on top of desserts!
Oats- I can’t believe i’ve left it this long to mention these, but oats are something that I always have in my kitchen. I most commonly use them for making cheesecake bases or raw shortbread bases. If you blend them into a flour along with some cashew nuts, maple syrup and coconut oil, it creates an amazing crunchy shortbread base that you can then leave to set in the freezer for a few hours and you’re done!
Sunflower seeds- These are a great option to substitute for nuts in things like energy balls and raw brownies as they’re a little bit more affordable and are also a good option for people with nut allergies. You can also make your own spreads using these instead of nuts for example: home made nut free nutella. Just blend some sunflower seeds, cacao, maple syrup and coconut oil together.
Canned Coconut milk- The final item that I nearly always have in more cupboard is canned coconut milk. I tend to go for the full fat, really creamy version and I use this stuff all the time in both sweet and savoury dishes. It’s great for blending with cashew nuts to make cheesecake fillings and creams and you can also use the top part (the thick coconut cream) and whip this up to make dairy free whipped cream.. which tastes amazing!
I hope that you’ve liked this post and found it useful to learn about some of my most frequently used ingredients when making raw desserts. All of these things can be found in store, as well as extra advice on how to use them and there are also some great recipes on our blog as well to help you get started.