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A Simple Table Store Cupboard Essentials

We asked the authors of A Simple Table and founders of The Pressary, Chi-San Wan and Natali Stajcic, about their more unusual store cupboard essentials. These are their recommendations:

Almond Milk
For those wishing to consume less dairy or who are dairy intolerant, almond milk is a great plant-based milk alternative due to its nutty flavour and creamy texture. Almonds contain magnesium, calcium, vitamin E and protein which make them a nutritious addition to the kitchen. Making your own almond milk is easy and most delicious (you’ll find our recipe in the book) but you can now find a plethora of almond milks on the supermarket shelves. Make sure you check that it has a high percentage of almonds, as some have as little as 1 per cent and bulk out the milk with lots of other ingredients that your body won’t recognise. We may be biased, but we like The Pressery.
Amino Acid/Liquid Aminos
An all-purpose seasoning, made from soy protein, this is an alternative to soya sauce. It’s not fermented, is gluten-free and contains 16 essential and non-essential amino acids in natural occurring amounts from soy protein. It’s perfect to add to salad dressings, soups, roast vegetables or marinades. We like to use Bragg.
Cacao Butter
Made from cold-pressing the oil from the cacao bean, cacao butter is the base ingredient for chocolate and is also used a lot in skincare products. It also smells wonderful.
Even though the chaga mushroom has existed for hundreds of years, it’s only recently that it has come to the surface as a ‘superfood’. Mostly harvested from the colder northern hemispheres, this powerful funghi survives the harshest of climates, which makes it full of extraordinary antioxidants.
Rich in iodine, iron, magnesium and calcium, dulse is a seaweed (or sea vegetable) and has a salty, smoky taste compared to other seaweeds. It’s great to add depth to dishes. You’re unlikely to find dulse fresh; after harvesting it’s quickly dried to retain its nutrients. We like the one from Atlantic Kitchen.
Also known as linseed, flaxseed is great for digestion as it’s full of fibre as well as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The whole seed is great sprinkled over salads, smoothies or baked goods but it’s also great ground down and used in cooking and baking.
Hemp Oil
Hemp oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as being very high in protein, vitamins and minerals. It has a nutty taste and should not be heated. Drizzle it over salads or add it to dressings. We like the one by Biona.
Kombu is a seaweed and comes in freeze-dried strip form. It’s great to add to soups, stews and broths. It’s traditionally used in dashi, a delicious Japanese soup stock used as the base for miso soup. We buy ours from Clearspring.
Nutritional Yeast
The words probably don’t conjure up very appealing images but nutritional yeast is simply a single-celled organism which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed and dried with heat to kill or ‘deactivate’ it. Because it’s not active, it doesn’t froth or grow like baking yeast does so it has no leavening ability. It is mostly sold in the form of flakes and has a ‘cheesy’ flavour. Rich in vitamin B and high in protein, the taste makes it a great alternative to cheese for vegetarians and vegans; we add it to our ‘nut cheeses’ for a stronger cheese flavour or to a Caesar dressing. We like the one from Marigold.
Probiotic Capsules
Probiotics help stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria so are mainly used to aid gut health and healthy digestion. The capsules can be opened and the powder can be added to milk, coconut milk or nut spreads to start the fermentation process, making it probiotic-rich. We like to use OptiBac.
Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk is most commonly used to help bowel movements and is a flavourless powder that can be added to almost anything. A high source of dietary fibre, it also lends itself to baking because it swells and binds, very much like eggs do, so can hold ingredients together. You can find it in most health food stores.
Schisandra Beryy
Schisandra berry has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but has only recently become popular in the West. Known for helping with fatigue, enhancing stamina, liver support, countering stress and heightening concentration, the powder is best used in smoothies and breakfast recipes.
A variety of seaweed, high in magnesium and calcium, wakame is great used mostly in Asian recipes, soups and salads. It comes in freeze-dried form and can be found in health food stores and in your local Asian supermarket. We like the ones from Clearspring and Atlantic Kitchen.

Extract from A Simple Table by Chi-San Wan and Natali Stajcic, published by Yellow Kite, £25
Photo credit: Emma Lee