I am a huge proponent of local eating. I feel like it is safer most of the time when you know where your food is coming from, and especially if you are producing a lot of your own food. Eating a whole foods, plant based diet while living in Maine is challenging, especially during the long winter. So let us see where I am today with must have non-local foods.
1.) Good quality extra virgin olive oil: I use two oils mainly, evoo and coconut oil. I use evoo for a lot of different salads, whether it is an oil and vinegar dressing on a green salad, or as an ingredient for my black bean salad, I use it a lot. Could I live without it? Certainly, but I feel like life is better with evoo and a nice hunk of focaccia to dip in it.
2.) Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil & Flaked Coconut: I only recently started using coconut oil a lot. I have replaced the vegetable oil I typically used in baking with the coconut oil, and I love it. I feel like the subtle coconut flavor is amazing. I also make my own coconut milk for cooking with – mainly curry. I was never a big fan of coconut growing up, but it has found its way into my heart now.
3.) Coffee: This should probably be number 1, because I love me some coffee. I have a love hate relationship with this lovely beverage. Sometimes I want to give it up, because of the caffeine, but then I realize that I would still just buy decaf because I love coffee that much!
4.) Tea: Tea is another one that I need to have available. Sure, I could grow herbs for tea where I live, but during those periods where I think I will give up coffee – I am still drinking tea. And I use a lot of the different Traditional Medicinal teas for health and wellness. I’m not entirely sure which of those different blends could be sourced locally by making my own tea mixes, I would have to do more research.
5.) Nutritional Yeast: I just recently discovered nutritional yeast. Well, I had read about it a number of times over the past year, but finally tried it myself this past winter. I have mostly given up dairy, but as someone who absolutely loves cheese, I needed an alternative. This is it. I put it on my salad, on popcorn, in soups, make a nacho “cheese” sauce from it – the stuff is incredible.
6.) Nuts: Specifically raw almonds, walnuts and peanuts. I have been making my own almond milk for quite a while now. Before it was just for the kids drinking, but now I use it in a number of recipes as well – one of which is my salad dressing (come back tomorrow for the recipe). My kids snack on walnuts and craisins and we eat a ton of peanut butter whether it is the typical peanut butter sandwich or if I am using peanut butter for a noodle salad, it would definitely be difficult to not have around!
7.) Avocados: I love them. They are a healthy fat, and who doesn’t love guacamole? They make a great chocolate “pudding” for the kids, and are a constant in our salads.
8.) Citrus: In my last list I actually listed out oranges, lemons, and limes. But, this time I am lumping them together. I think if I had to pick one, it would probably be lemons. But, I do love my citrus.
9.) Bananas: Last time this one didn’t make the list, but this time I am including it. We eat a lot of bananas here. I have talked before about not buying strawberries in January because they aren’t in season. Well, bananas do not seem to fall in that same category. I think the difference is that I can actually buy strawberries in season in Maine, so I have a hard time buying them out of season from another country. Bananas are a regular in our green smoothies as well as a snack for the kids or in their morning oatmeal.
10.) Chia Seeds: Yes, these would be the same seeds as the ones that are from those lovely chia pets of the 80’s and 90’s. They are an amazing super food though. I put them in salad dressing to thicken it, in smoothies, on salads. You can really add them to anything because they don’t have a very distinct flavor. If you haven’t tried them, you should.
These are my top ten now. Obviously it has grown a bit since my last list, but these are the non-local foods that I seem to find in my house that are used on a regular basis. Could I do without a lot of these? Absolutely. I know that I could change my diet to an even more local diet if I included more animal products. But, that isn’t the stage I am in right now.