Contrary to popular belief, buckwheat is not a cereal grain but is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for people who are sensitive to wheat or other gluten containing grains. Buckwheat flowers are very fragrant and are attractive to bees that use them to produce a special, strongly flavored, dark honey.
Buckwheat is high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and flavonoids in particular; rutin and quercetin. Flavonoids are phyto nutrients that protect against disease. It is also a good source of dietary fibre and contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine which makes it a good protein source.
Another seed and non-cereal grain, quinoa is a rich source of protein, in particular, essential amino acids, dietary fibre, several B vitamins including folate and minerals; iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. It is gluten free and considered easy to digest.
Almonds are the fruit of the tree and considered a seed rather than a nut. There are domestic varieties which we commonly eat and wild ones which are high in levels of lethal cyanide.
Nutritionally dense and a rich source of the B vitamins riboflavin, thiamine, B6, niacin and folate, vitamin E, and minerals; calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. They are also rich in dietary fiber, as well as mono-unsaturates omega 6 and 9 fats. Almonds also contain phytosterols, nutrients known to be heart protective. During digestion, almond flour can be fermented into short chain fatty acids, in particular butyrate which is great to aid digestion and promote a healthy gut microbiome.
High in protein and essential fats, brazil nuts are technically a seed from a fruiting tree. Nutritionally, an excellent source of dietary fiber and various vitamins; thiamin, Vitamin E, and minerals; magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc. Brazil nuts are perhaps the richest dietary source of selenium, an important cofactor for the anti-oxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, important in both brain and liver health.
Botanically speaking, cashew are not actually nuts but seeds. Unlike oily tree nuts, cashews contain up to 10% of their weight as starch. This makes them more effective than nuts in thickening water-based dishes such as soups, meat stews, and some milk-based desserts. Many Southeast Asian cuisines use cashews for this unusual characteristic, rather than other nuts. The shell of the cashew nut is toxic, which is why the nut is never sold in its shell to consumers.
Raw cashews provide good levels of good fats, protein, dietary fibre and carbohydrates. They are rich sources of minerals, particularly copper, iron, potassium, selenium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium, as well as vitamins thiamin, B6 and K.
Technically another seed, pecans are high in energy, protein and contain good levels of fat, mainly monounsaturates (oleic acid) and polyunsaturates (linoleic acid), really good for our heart health. They are a rich source of dietary fibre and minerals: manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and vitamins like thiamin and vitamin E.
A nutrient dense food, sunflower seeds come from sunflowers themselves and are an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals especially magnesium and selenium. Rich in fats; monounsaturates and polyunsaturates they also contain phytosterols. Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol, and when present in the diet in sufficient amounts, are believed to reduce blood levels of low density cholesterol.
A Spanish term for pumpkin seeds, these nutrient dense seeds derive from pumpkins. They are a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamin E and minerals especially manganese and zinc. The fat they contain is high in mono and poly unsaturates making an excellent oil for salads and other dressings.
They are rich in antioxidant chemicals, including phenolic acids and antioxidant phytonutrients like lignans.
Sesame seeds are energy dense, providing an excellent source of essential nutrients, protein, dietary fiber and good fats. They are particularly rich in B vitamins and minerals; manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
Flaxseeds are energy dense with good amounts of protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins and minerals, especially rich in thiamine (B1), magnesium and phosphorus.
High in omega 3 fats (over 50% of total fat), mostly ALA and monounsaturated fats.
Chia is a herb, grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, over 50% (ALA mainly). The seeds are hydrophilic, they love water, absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a mucilaginous coating. They are a rich source of B vitamins; thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate. They also contain high levels of dietary minerals; calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
The oat is a species of cereal grain grown for its seed. Oats are generally considered healthy due to their content of several essential nutrients. They are a good source of protein, soluble dietary fiber, several B Vitamins and numerous dietary minerals, especially manganese. Oats are an energy rich food containing 66% carbohydrate. Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat and contains type of soluble fiber, beta-glucans. Its daily consumption over weeks has been shown in the research to lower LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol, possibly reducing the risk of heart disease. Oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion, a feeling of satiety and suppression of appetite.
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a cereal grain. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. High in dietary fiber, B vitamins, magnesium. It has a high level of fibre in its endosperm – not just in its bran. High in carbohydrate (mainly starch), with a lower GI than most other grains. Relatively high protein content (around 15%), with a higher lysine content than most other cereals. High in potassium and low in sodium. Contains vitamin E. Contains dietary minerals - iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium (depending on the soil content of selenium). Contains small amounts of copper, manganese and calcium. Contains phytochemicals including lignans, phenolic acids, phytic acid, plant sterols and saponins.
An edible fruit of the mulberry family. Thought to be the first cultivated plant food by humans. A good source of dietary fibre, calcium, choline, magnesium phosphorus, potassium. They contain diverse phytochemicals, including polyphenols and anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants in the body.
The date palm is a flowering palm species cultivated for its edible sweet fruit, dates. They are a great source of potassium. When ripe, dates have a high sugar content, about 80% (mainly fructose) with the rest consisting of protein, dietary fibre and other trace elements: boron, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc.
Also known as Wolf Berries, this small reddish fruit is often eaten dried and comes originally from China and Tibet. It is high in protein, containing the essential amino acids, good levels of iron and vitamin C. It has been documented as containing high levels of various carotenoids with a relatively high antioxidant level.
A native of South America, these small berries are usually consumed as a dried fruit. They are very high in dietary fibre, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. They have a high antioxidant capacity, with a high ORAC score, much of these antioxidants are found in the many seeds inside the fruit. Antioxidants are natural plant chemicals which the body needs to overcome the damaging effects of free radicals.
The mulberry fruit comes in different colours, the darker the fruit, the sweeter the taste. From the Morus tree,it is high in vitamin C and minerals; calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Coconut is a fruit not a nut and originates from palms. It is highly versatile. Like other fruits, it has three layers: the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp. Shredded coconut meat is sourced from the inside of the coconut as it matures. Raw coconut meat supplies a high amount of fat, mainly saturated with high levels of mono-unsaturates and essential fatty acids; lauric acid. Micronutrients found in significant quantity include; manganese, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Another byproduct of the coconut is coconut oil. Commonly used in cooking. It can be used in liquid form as you would with olive oil, or in solid form as you would butter or lard.
Ceratonia siliqua, commonly known as the carob tree, St John's-bread, or locust bean is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, and as an ornamental tree in gardens. The ripe, dried pod is often ground to carob powder, which can be used to replace cocoa powder. Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate. While chocolate contains levels of theobromine which are toxic to some mammals, carob contains absolutely no caffeine and no theobromine. The pod has vitamin A, B vitamins, and several important minerals. It contains Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium Manganese, Barium, Copper, Nickel, is rich in pectin, has abundant protein, and has no oxalic acid, which interferes with absorption of calcium. Consequently, carob flour is widely used in health foods for chocolate-like flavoring. A very fine polysaccharide gum (locust bean gum)--mucilaginous, odorless, tasteless, and colorless--can also be obtained from the pod and is now used in many products.
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees, used in both sweet and savoury foods. Cinnamon is the name for perhaps a dozen species of trees and the commercial spice products that some of them produce. Good source of dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium, phosphorus. Contains coumarin, a chemical which can be toxic in high doses but used sparingly cinnamon has been shown to help control blood sugar levels.
The cocoa bean, is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter can be extracted. They are the basis of chocolate. The cacao tree is native to the Americas and may have originated in the foothills of the Andes, in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America.
Cacao nibs are the resulting pieces of cacao bean roasted, cracked and deshelled. They contain high amounts of theobromine and most nibs are ground, using various methods, into a thick, creamy paste, known as cocoa paste. This "liquor" is then further processed into chocolate by mixing in (more) cocoa butter and sugar (and sometimes vanilla and lecithin as an emulsifier), and then refined and tempered. In general, cocoa is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, which may impart antiaging properties as well as beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. The stimulant activity of cocoa comes from the compound theobromine. It contains high levels of potassium, magnesium, iron and B6. Good levels of protein and dietary fibre.
Vanilla grows as a vine and is primarily a flavouring derived from orchids. The word vanilla, is translated simply as "little pod". Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. Initial attempts to cultivate vanilla outside Mexico and Central America proved futile because of the symbiotic relationship between the vanilla orchid and its natural pollinator, the local species of Melipona bee. Pollination is required to set the fruit from which the flavouring is derived. Hand-pollination allowed global cultivation of the plant. The second-most expensive spice after saffron, growing the vanilla seed pods is labour intensive. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavour. As a result, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture, and aromatherapy. Vanilla is high in potassium and magnesium.
Olive oil is a fat obtained from the olive (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by pressing whole olives and is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps.
Contains good levels of vitamin E and vitamin K with high levels of monounsaturated fats in the form of oleic acid and palmitic acid. Compounds specific to olive oil, known as phenolics, seem to possess free radical-scavenging properties and so may be able to reduce oxidative damage to DNA.
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow colour. It contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties and has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time… it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties. These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. When dried, the fruit is known as a peppercorn. Peppercorns, and the ground pepper derived from them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper (ripe fruit seeds).
Dried ground pepper has been used since antiquity for both its flavour and as traditional medicine. Black pepper is the world's most traded spice. It is one of the most common spices added to cuisines around the world. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine, not to be confused with the capsaicin characteristic of chili peppers. Black pepper is ubiquitous in the modern world as a seasoning and is often paired with salt.
Common salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride, a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of salts; salt in its natural form as a crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. Salt is present in vast quantities in seawater. Salt is essential for life, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes. One of the oldest and most ubiquitous of food seasonings, salting is an important method of food preservation. It is an essential nutrient and the amount of salt in the diet influences health. Depending on where the salt originates, it contains varying levels of minerals.