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COOKING INGREDIENTS

In order to avoid processed food, cooking at home is almost essential.  Even then it can be challenging to avoid processed foods unless you have a repertoire of ingredients you know you can safely use and know exactly what to watch out for. MSG and sugar are often hidden where you might least expect them and ingredient lists can change even if the packaging looks the same.

In particular, the following cooking ingredients surprisingly often contain hidden MSG, added sugar or other additives:

- stock or broth

- eggs

- cheese

- juice

- dried fruit and nuts

- table salt

- spices and herbs

- oil and vinegar

- wine

- fresh produce

- frozen fruits and vegetables

- canned foods

- fresh and frozen fish and seafood

- fresh meat

See here for more information. Some ingredients are almost always Before Natural (plain rice, quinoa, cous-cous, rice noodles and pasta, for example, although any of the seasoned varieties usually contain hidden MSG, added sugar and/or other additives). Here are some basic cooking ingredients we happily use all the time. Check out the rest of the food finder links for products that fit better into other categories!

Oil and vinegar:

Carbonell Olive Oil

Ingredients:

Pure extra virgin olive oil in general is "before natural" so I'm listing this one here more because it's one of our favorites rather than because it's any more natural than other olive oils.  When it comes to taste, there is nothing like Spanish olive oil.

Try your favorite salad ingredients topped with a generous amount of freshly ground sea salt and this olive oil, and you'll never go back to trying to cover up the taste of the salad with dressing.  This olive oil brings out the delicious flavors in the salad itself.

Maison Orphee Virgin Coconut Oil

Ingredients:

Virgin coconut oil has been used for cooking and skin-care for thousands of years.  It fell out of favor in the mid 20th century due to pressure from the corn and soybean industries, but has recently started to regain popularity.  It is a before natural oil with many uses and health benefits so I am all for it.

There are many brands of coconut oil available but Maison Orphee is recognized as one of the best. Most importantly it is cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, but it is also organic, fair-trade and comes in a glass jar.

Filsinger's Apple Cider Vinegar

Ingredients: ORGANIC APPLES

Apple cider vinegar is one of the few vinegars that is usually "before natural".  This one is particularly good because it is organic and comes in glass bottles.  If you are looking for a cheaper non-organic alternative though, Heinz apple cider vinegar also has no added sugar, hidden MSG or other additives.

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Dry Spices:

Compliments Chili Powder

Ingredients: CHILI PEPPER, CUMIN, CORIANDER, SALT, OREGANO, GARLIC POWDER, CLOVES.

Perfect chili powder - add to some fried ground beef/peppers/onions and voila! Amazing for tacos or anything else that needs a little Mexican flare.

Silk Road Spices

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We were introduced to the Silk Road Spice Merchant by family in Calgary and we absolutely love their spice mixes, many of which do not contain hidden MSG, added sugar or other additives.  Our favorites so far are the Sharples Ranch Smoky Barbecue Rub, Ethiopian Berbere and Vindaloo Curry Powder, although we've enjoyed all the ones we've tried!

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Seasonings:

Real Thai Coconut Milk

Ingredients: COCONUT EXTRACT 85%, WATER.

By far our favorite coconut milk (and actually the only brand we ever use now).  It has become almost impossible to find coconut milk that does not have additives, stabilizers, hidden MSG or sugar, let alone one that's in packaging that does not contain BPA or other can-lining chemicals.  All of which makes this coconut milk a great choice!

Coconut Secret Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce (Coconut Aminos)

Ingredients: ORGANIC COCONUT TREE SAP AGED AND BLENDED WITH SUN-DRIED, MINERAL-RICH SEA SALT.

This is an awesome alternative to soy sauce that does not contain processed sugar, hidden MSG or other additives. What's wrong with soy sauce you might ask? Most important to me is the fact that it contains hidden processed free glutamate.  But there are also many other answers to that question - click the photo for more information.

Red Boat Fish Sauce 40

Ingredients: WILD CAUGHT ANCHOVIES, SALT

Thai/Vietnamese cooking is just not the same without fish sauce.  Red Boat is one of the best fish sauces available and it is minimally processed, without added sugar or other additives.

Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste

Ingredients: SPICE (INCLUDING GREEN CHILI), GARLIC, LEMONGRASS, GALANGAL (THAI GINGER), SALT, ONION, KAFFIR LIME PEEL

​You might be wondering how this ended up in here with "spice" listed as an ingredient and brackets in the ingredient list. I started using this curry paste (and their red curry paste) years ago back when they actually listed all the ingredients, so when they changed the ingredient list I contacted the company and they assured me they hadn't actually changed the ingredients on either one.  Every time I stock up I have to contact the company to make sure they still haven't changed the actual ingredients in the past few years, because they could now add hidden MSG without changing the ingredient list.

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