Our Nutritionist's favourite things
Discover Sprout Nutritionist, Sami Bloom's favourite things.
Why it's good: Tamari is made from fermented soybeans, however unlike soy sauce, generally is not fermented with wheat (always check the ingredients if you have an allergy!). The fermentation process breaks down the soy protein and phytates, making it easier to digest, as well as full of good bacteria. Always ensure your tamari is organic, non-GMO and gluten-free, and where possible opt for low-sodium varieties.
How to use: Savoury, salty and rich in flavour it is most commonly used in a stir-fry, however I also like to use it in place of oil (in a non-stick pan) for a little bit of moisture. Other uses include in salad dressings, marinades, and broths.
Why it's good: Shiitake mushrooms are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, containing vitamins, minerals and enzymes that improve immune function. They also boast chemical compounds that protect your DNA from oxidative damage, and are a source of B vitamins and small amounts of vitamin D.
How to use: Once soaked in boiling water, use the water as a broth to add to soups, especially miso! Enjoy the mushrooms themselves in soups, stir-fries, curry's, with noodles or in salads.
Why it's good: Rich in fibre and B vitamins, this one is also fortified with B12, the one B vitamin that is not naturally occurring in nutritional yeast. B's help support healthy hair, fat-burning, brain function and energy production! Nutritional yeast also has a balanced amino-acid profile and high amounts of protein (approx 3-4.5 grams of protein in just 1 tbsp).
How to use: It lends a delicious, cheesy flavour to entrees, sides or salads and can be used simply sprinkled atop a salad or main, in dressings, sauces, dips and pesto's, or to make vegan cheese when combined with soaked cashews.
Why it's good: Turmeric has long been used in Chinese & Ayurvedic medicine, for its immune regulating, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antioxidant, detoxifying effects, largely due to its high curcumin content. Always pair with a pinch of black pepper for best absorption.
How to use: Mix turmeric into your porridge, smoothies, stir-fries, curries, soups, dressings, sauces and stews. Kitchari is a dish that favours turmeric, and is a great one-pot meal to keep on hand. One of my favourite ways to use it however is in a quick latte recipe, for a nutritious sweet treat. Heat up ½-1 tsp turmeric in 1.5 cups non-dairy milk with a few drops of stevia, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of black pepper.
Why it's good: Chia is packed with omega 3, fibre, protein, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Soaking the chia activates the seed making it more bio-available to your body, as well as slows the digestion of the seeds, helping to keep you satiated, well-hydrated, preventing blood sugar spikes, improving bowel movements and decreasing cholesterol levels.
How to use: Chia is natures thickener, making it great in baked goods in place of egg, as well as on its own in a chia pudding. Include it in your smoothies, bircher muesli or porridge for breakfast, or simply sip on 1-2 tsp in 1L of water throughout the day. You can sprinkle it on salads but the seeds are best consumed soaked for benefits.
Why it's good: ACV balances the bodies pH, supports the liver, improves insulin sensitivity, is anti-bacterial and contains probiotics and probiotic-boosting acetic acid. Some evidence also suggests it helps reduce sugar cravings and digestive upset such as reflux and bloating. Ensure you get raw, unpasturised ACV that contains the “mother” for maximum benefits.
How to use: Wake up to 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with warm (not hot) water 30 minutes before your first meal, and/or continue this before each main meal throughout the day. Additionally, use it in salad dressing just as you would other vinegar. For DIY beauty tricks try using it on a cotton pad as a face toner underneath serum/creme, as a spot treatment or as a hair rinse (combine 2-4 tbsp ACV in 1 cup of water and massage into your hair after shampooing, leaving on for 2-5 mins before rinsing out. Optional to condition after).