I am beginning to realize that I totally have kitchen staples, and that my life literally falls apart if I don’t have them. I start doing crazy things, like subbing mayo in for eggs in pancakes. Seriously. This happened this morning. We survived.
Especially since our household is dairy- and oat-free, we’ve had to get creative. And, I’ve never particularly liked the taste of olive oil in cooking, nor felt particularly wonderful when using cooking spray. (It just feels right, I tell you, to smear oil with a paper towel.) So! Here’s my list of things I MUST HAVE in my kitchen for my culinary life to be complete. And not fall to pieces. But first, I must flip my mayo pancakes.
1. Coconut Oil
Seriously, if you can’t already tell from my over-use of the word, I’m totally serious right now. This stuff rocks my dairy-free world. Not only can I use it on toast, I can bake with it, saute with it, and use it to whiten my teeth! (Oil pulling is awesome. I only did it once, because my mouth filled up with spit and that was kind of gross, but my breath was so fresh and coconutty, and my teeth felt so nice!) When you find something with health benefits that’s natural and not the gross fake non-dairy margarine that’s one molecule away from being plastic, your life is made.
No, not that jarred stuff you find in H.E.B. The real stuff. The “just finished cooking this” stuff. The “no added sugars, but added spices and love” stuff. It’s amazing. A divine experience. And I am amazed at how easy it is, that we don’t ALL do this! After running out of eggs, I made brownies with this. A-stinkin’-mazing. I will never cook brownies any other way. For real, dude. Of course, I used two of my other staples as well: coconut oil, and almond milk. So good… like fudge cake. But again, applesauce needs to always be in my fridge. Not only is it an uber-healthy snack for the kids and easy on toddler teething gums, but it’s a baking essential.
3. Almond/Rice Milk
I interchange these always. My mayo pancakes today were with rice milk. Almond milk is my preference for baking, though, because it’s thicker and sweeter. It makes my world glorious. Seriously. Too exhausted to make cupcakes from scratch? Get the box mix, add almond milk, coconut oil, and dairy-free (or regular) pudding of your choice to those suckers, and get ready for an explosion of awesomeness. Plus, my kids can drink it and get that daily dose of calcium, as well as a little protein.
Dude. Spices. ALL THE SPICES! I MUST HAS THEM ALL! (I’m having flash-backs to my childhood of Pokemon-induced comas.) No meal is complete without something from the spice rack, and a simple addition of salt (GASP) and pepper can bring that bland tilapia to its full, glorious potential. That, and some concentrated OJ heated up. Mmmmm….. I need to make that this week…. But spices are where it’s at. Cooking 60 years ago was centered around spices, and our international culture has brought so many fun ones to us! Nearly every week, another spices sneaks into my grocery basket and smuggles its way into my kitchen. They’ve started taking over another whole shelf.
Cooking in general, but especially dairy-free cooking, NEEDS these things. I cannot survive in my kitchen without them. Of course, there are tons of other things that I have in my pantry that are essentials, but all of them can be switched out for something else. No couscous in the pantry? We’ll use rice. No broccoli? Canned green beans it is! No nanners? Have some applesauce, wee one!
What are your kitchen must-haves?