This is going to be a strange post. There will be no recipe. There will be no food pictures. There won’t even be much information. However, given the vast number of emails, posts and comments I get asking me for the answers that I am going to give here, I have a suspicion that a lot of you will find it totally useful. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
There’s a few ingredients in my recipes that you may not be familiar with. They make going SANE easier, and in the case of baked goods especially, they making going SANE possible. So we love them. There aren’t many, and I try very hard to minimize the number of new things you need to stock your pantry with to enjoy a SANE lifestyle; but there’s a few things we need to bridge the gap. So here’s the brands I use and where to get them. These apply mainly to the US, so apologies to our overseas SSoS’ers – I hope this post will at least give you a start. I am also hoping that our friends from around the globe will let me know where they get their supplies so that I can add that information here.
Note: using these links to make your purchases *may* result in me receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you), which will help enormously in being able to maintain this site and create new recipes for you. The costs of running this site and developing recipes come entirely out of my own pocket. The purpose of this site has never been – and never will be – to make money, however, I would hugely appreciate your support by using these links, if you feel so inclined.
Almond Flour / Ground Almonds / Blanched Almond Meal (white)
Almond Flour is almonds that are ground after the skins have been removed, and they are creamy-white in color. Almonds with the skins removed are also called Blanched Almonds. I use almond flour (ground almonds, blanched almond flour) a lot in baked goods. Almond flour is not regularly available in most grocery stores in the US, although it is sold in all supermarkets as ground almonds and / or blanched almond meal in the UK and Australia. Because it is not easy to find in regular stores in the US, and because I get through huge quantities as I develop and test new recipes for you, I buy it online and in bulk because it’s a lot cheaper per pound that way. I store it in the freezer. The brand I use is Honeyville, because it is the best there is in the US. I buy the 25lb box, but it is also available in smaller quantities. You can also purchase almond flour in several stores that have the bulk-buy bins – PCC, Whole Foods, etc. Some grocery stores who sell Bob’s Red Mill products stock Bob’s Red Mill almond flour/meal.
Almond Meal / Natural (or Raw) Almond Flour (speckled brown and white)
Almond Meal is almonds that are ground with the skins still on, and they are speckled white and brown in color. You cannot swap these in recipes that call for almond flour as the skins have a material effect on the result, so make sure you use the kind that a recipe states. Almond meal is readily available online. In the US you can buy it at Trader Joe’s and many regular grocery stores, especially those with bulk bins. You may also find it called Natural or Raw Almond Flour.
Chia seeds are readily available online, and increasingly available in regular grocery stores. Trader Joe’s, PCC, Whole Foods, and most stores that have bulk bins have them. I bought an insane (ha, ha!) amount a few years back – before I met Jonathan – and am still chomping my way through those. I will update this with where I buy then now when I re-stock. In the meantime, black or white, chia seeds are all-awesome. Don’t worry about the tiny nutritional differences between the two.
Cocoa Powder / Cacao
Cocoa Powder is roasted cocoa beans, with much of the cocoa butter removed, ground into a powder – not to be confused with hot chocolate mix or sweetened cocoa powder. Because I am a chocolate snob and a pastry chef I use Valrhona cocoa powder - it is the best in the world – and I buy it online in bulk because it is a lot cheaper that way. Other brands of cocoa powder are readily available online. You can also find cocoa powder in most regular grocery stores. Just be careful to check the label and only buy unsweetened.
Cocoa nibs are smashed up roasted cocoa beans. If you just finished reading about cocoa powder above, it will not surprise you in the least to know that I use Valrhona cocoa nibs and I buy them online and in bulk because it’s cheaper that way. Other brands of cocoa nibs are readily available online. In the US you can find cocoa nibs at Trader Joe’s, PCC, and Whole Foods, and increasingly in the “natural” or “health food” sections of regular grocery stores. Make sure they contain nothing but cocoa beans.
Coconut Cream / Cream of Coconut
Coconut Cream is coconut meat made into a thick, creamy paste. It gets tricky because coconut milk and coconut cream seem to have a huge variety of meanings to different people. When I use Coconut Cream in a recipe, I use Trader Joe’s brand. It comes in a can and is extremely thick, and it is unsweetened. If you open the can without shaking it, you have an almost solid white mass with some clear “water” on the top. You can find other brands in regular grocery stores, and also in specialty stores such as Asian and Indian.
Coconut Milk is the #1 cows milk alternative. When I use Coconut Milk in a recipe, I use Trader Joe’s brand. It comes in a carton and is exactly like cows milk in color and thickness. I only ever use unsweetened.
Coconut Oil is the #1 oil for cooking. It is very stable when heated and does not taste of coconut, although you will doubt that until you’ve tried it because it smells heavily of coconut. It is readily available online. I use Trader Joe’s brand - it is cheaper in-store if you have one close to you. You can also buy coconut oil in Costco, and most grocery stores. Check the cooking oil section, or the natural food section.
Coconut Oil Spray
Coconut Oil Spray is used to grease baking trays and dishes for baking. It is readily available online. I use Spectrum brand. You can also buy this is regular grocery stores and you will find it along with the other baking oil sprays.
Egg Whites – powdered
Absolutely the easiest and cheapest way to get egg whites is to use them in powdered form. I use Honeyville brand, and they are readily available online. Reconstituted they work exactly like regular egg whites – they even make great meringue – except you don’t have to crack them and separate them, and you don’t get left with a whole pile of egg yolks with nothing to do with them!
Glucomannan Powder or Konjac Flour is a fiber made from Konjac Root and it is my go-to thickener instead of corn starch (cornflour) or wheat flour in sauces and gravies. It is readily available online. I use Now Foods brand which you can also get at stores in the US like Super Supplements. You use much less glucomannan than you would use corn starch or flour, so a little goes a very long way.
Guar Gum is an emulsifier and thickener. It is readily available online. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand. In the US you can find it in most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill products - PCC, Whole Foods, Safeway, IGA, etc. It is not cheap, but you use tiny amounts in recipes so it will last you a long, long time. Store in an air-tight jar.
Hemp milk is cows milk alternative made from hemp seed. It has a slightly thicker texture and a few caramel-y undertones. I use this in dessert and other sweet recipes rather than savory dishes. I use this mainly for various flavors of ice cream. It is readily available online. In the US it is increasingly available in grocery stores. In Seattle I buy it at PCC.
See Glucomannan Powder (above).
By sugar-free syrups I am referring to the clear syrups sold primarily to flavor coffee and other beverages. These are readily available online. I use Torani brand. In the US you can buy them at Starbucks and many grocery stores such as Safeway, Fred Meyers, IGA,etc.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey Protein is one of the best sources of protein, and it is extremely useful in increasing our protein intake. Beware – protein powders are a minefield. Most of them are not SANE and not particularly healthy. Luckily, Jonathan has done all the leg work for us here. We use Optimum Nutrition brand 100% Whey Gold Standard. It comes in a variety of flavors and sizes. I only use vanilla in my recipes so you don’t feel like you need to buy every flavor they make! You can purchase this at Super Supplement stores, but it is usually cheaper online. I buy it in 10lb bags to further reduce the per pound cost.
Xanthan Gum is a thickener and stabilizer. It is readily available online. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand. In the US you can find it in most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill products - PCC, Whole Foods, Safeway, IGA, etc. It is not cheap, but you use tiny amounts in recipes so it will last you a long, long time. Store in an air-tight jar.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener to replace sugar. It is readily available online. I use Xyla brand. I buy it in bulk because I get through so much of it in recipe development that it is a lot cheaper per pound that way. Make sure that you get xylitol that is made from birch bark and not corn. In stores I have seen Xyla in PCC. NOTE: Like chocolate, xylitol is harmful to dogs, so please be sure to keep any xylitol-containing goodies away from them!
Friends overseas – please weigh in with info on where to find these things in your country if you are able – it would be hugely helpful to your fellow countrymen who may be struggling.
And…since I’ve been SANE for a while now, everything in my kitchen feels normal. What did I forget?