In his newest cookbook, Rocco’s Healthy + Delicious, chef Rocco DiSpirito provides a list of 15 staple ingredients for starting a plant-based pantry. He provided Gluten-Free Living with an additional top 10 list of low-calorie but flavorful kitchen staples for creating nutritious and tasty meals at home.
A fruit rich in healthy fats, this versatile ingredient is utilized by DiSpirito in smoothies, salads and as a spread on toast in the recipes featured in his new cookbook.
2. Dijon mustard
Low in calories and low in sodium, Dijon mustard is a fantastic staple ingredient for making a quick, healthy salad dressing or marinade.
DiSpirito encourages cooking with various herbs, but his personal favorite is cilantro. Cilantro’s refreshing lemony-like flavor lends itself to various dishes in the kitchen, and the leaves are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.
4. Monk fruit in the raw
Monk fruit in the raw is one of DiSpirito’s favorite ways to slightly sweeten a dish when needed. This is his preferred sweetener, along with coconut nectar, and is the primary one used in Rocco’s all-natural food product line.
5. Green Tabasco sauce
Green Tabasco is a jalapeño pepper sauce that is not too hot and not too mild. A great way to kick up the flavor in a dish without adding calories.
This pungent root is commonly mixed with other ingredients to make dips or sauces, and can also be added to other dishes, like stews, soups, or even sandwiches and salads.
7. Rooster sauce
Rooster sauce or sriracha is a specific type of hot sauce made from the paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. It is mild in heat and can be used as a condiment or in soups, sauces, marinades and even cocktails.
8. Coconut aminos
When coconut sap is fermented and boiled, it creates an amino-rich sauce that has a similar flavor profile to soy sauce, with less salt and a slightly sweet taste. It can be utilized in place of tamari or soy sauce and is also a great ingredient for sautéing vegetables or making marinades or salad dressings.
The juice and/or zest of citrus fruits, like lemons, limes and oranges, is a wonderful way to add lots of flavor to plant-based or animal-protein dishes.
Vinegars are a fantastic way to add flavor without a lot of calories. Balsamic vinegar is one of DiSpirito’s favorites for its sweet-tart taste and versatility in the kitchen.