Using healthier ingredients can be a lot more complicated than using the traditional butter-white flour-white sugar combination which is sort of foolproof. I have destroyed millions of recipes whilst experimenting with healthier ingredients and that is why you need to be more flexible, more creative and more tolerant when using them in cooking and baking. It might take time and it might take patience but it is worth it in the end. I speak from a place of experience because I opened up my website in 2003 but in 2000 I was eating pasta uncooked as I didn't know how to boil it. If I can do it, so can you.

Below is a collection of terms and products that you might find unfamiliar and how I use them in my cooking. Click on a term and the answer will automatically expand below.

Food Items/Products

Dried Whole Bananas (Bogoya Bananas)

These bananas (Bogoya bananas) are slowly dried, whole and without any additives or flavourings. I never use the hard, dry banana slices covered in sugar or honey (often with added banana flavour), marketed as health food.

How to use: I use the bananas in my muesli and in some of my energy bars. If you don't like dried bananas (or can't find them) you can omit or use dried apricots or apples instead. Dried, whole bananas are available in many health food stores. 

Goji berries (Wolfberries)

Goji berries (also known as wolfberries) grow in China, Mongolia and the Himalayas. They look like red raisins (dry and wrinkly) and have been used for over 6000 years for various reasons such as protecting the liver, helping eye sight, boost immune function, improve circulation and more. The goji berries are very rich in antioxidants (especially carotenoids such as beta-carotene) which is great for healthy eyes. Their extracts are though to be able to prevent the growth of cancer cells, and to lower cholesterol levels. Goji berries taste a little like dried cherries, they are slightly sweet and sour.

How to use:
I use goji berries in muffins and cookies (just like dried cherries) and I sometimes use goji juice as well. You can find goji berries in most health food stores, in Chinese herbal shops and in some larger supermarkets. Make sure that they don't contain added sugar.

Himalayan Salt

Himalyan salt is said to have over 80 minerals and iron and to be much healthier than ordinary table salt which often contains chemicals, iodine and is mostly made up of sodium chloride. Ordinary table salt is also dried at excessive heat which alters the natural chemical balance of the salt. Himalayan salt (which come in beautiful shades of pink, ranging from light pink to a deep reddish-pink colour) is hand-mined and found deep inside the Himalayan Mountains. That is the story at least. In reality, Himalaya salt is a rock salt from Pakistan, mined in the Khewra Salt Mines in Punjab. It is delicious and no matter the origin I prefer it to table salt, just make sure that it is not ordinary table salt labelled as Himalaya/Himalayan salt.

How to use: Himalaya salt is used in the same way as ordinary table salt. You can also use the coarser salt in your bath for smooth skin. It can be found in most health food stores and larger supermarkets. It is often available in delicatessens as well.

Hot-air popcorn maker

Electric popper for pop corn making uses hot air, not oil, for a healthy, low-calorie treat. It is great for the whole family. I have owned mine for several years and use it quite a lot. If is fairly cheap to buy.

How to use: Just follow the instructions from the manufacturer for the best results. Widely available (check the Amazon website for products and reviews).

Muscovado Sugar

Muscovado is pure, unrefined cane sugar which retains all of the natural ingredients of sugar cane, making it an unrefined sweetener. Muscovado has a fairly strong molasses flavour, is very sticky and goes well in most recipes which call for brown sugar. Muscovado contains calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron.

How to use: Muscovado sugar can be used in most recipes where brown sugar is called for. However it is not widely available in all countries. It is sometimes called Barbados Sugar or Moist Sugar. You can use Rapadura sugar instead in most recipes although it does not have the strong flavour of the muscovado or the stickiness. Try sourcing muscovado in health food stores, at sugar specialists or in large supermarkets.

Mustard Seeds (brown and yellow)

Mustard seeds are the small seeds of the mustard plant and has been used since 800 AD. They are similar to cous cous in size and range from off white/yellow in colour (mild, used in American mustard) to brown/black (strong, used in Dijon mustard). Mustard seeds can be processed to a paste, ground as a powder or left whole for a spicy kick. Mustard seeds are a good source of selenium which can help reduce asthma, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and are said to be able to help prevent certain types of cancer. Mustard seeds are also a good source of magnesium which are supposed to help lower high blood pressure as well as help prevent heart attacks in some patients. They are said to have the ability to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Mustard seeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, fibre, protein and more.

How to use: Use whole mustard seeds in dips, hot and cold sauces, in salads and more. You can often buy mustard seeds in larger supermarkets, in health food stores and Asian markets.

Puffed Rice

Puffed rice is just that, puffed rice, usually made from heating rice kernels under high pressure and steam. It is gluten free and often used in cereals and energy bars.

How to use: I use puffed rice in some recipes and you can use puffed spelt or puffed wheat instead if you prefer. Puffed rice is great as a filling ingredient so that energy bars don't become too bulky or heavy. Also great in cereals, especially if you are gluten intolerant. Puffed rice is widely available, in most health food stores and some supermarkets. Check that your puffed rice is Non GMO (Not Genetically Modified) and organic.


Quark is a fresh, soft cheese (similar to fromage frais) but definitely not the same thing as cream cheese or cottage cheese. It is also not the same as ricotta cheese. Quark is low fat and tastes slightly bitter. For those of you that know Skyr (the Icelandic skimmed-milk product) it is fairly similar in texture, although not in taste.

How to use: You can use quark to make smoothies thicker much like yoghurt. It can also be used in cold sauces and is sometimes used in baked cheesecakes. Quark can be found in some supermarkets, mainly in Europe. It is sometimes known as "white cheese" and "baking cheese". In the USA you might be able to use use Kiefer for some of the recipes and you might also be able to use Greek yoghurt if you can not find Quark in your home country. Contact your local dairy/cheese specialist for more information.

Various Terms

Free range

I am a vegetarian (I do eat fish, eggs and dairy products however) but my husband eats chicken and occasionally lamb and beef. I will never, ever buy chicken or other meat that is not free range or a product of an animal that hasn't had a happy life without suffering. This especially applies to eggs. It is not fair on animals and it is not fair on nature. If you eat meat, please only purchase free range meat.

See more information on Wikipedia on Free range farming:

Non GMO/GMO Free (GMO = Genetically Modified)

I distrust food items that have been genetically tampered with by humans, especially when chemicals are involved. I never buy food items (knowingly) that have been modified genetically. I always read the labels carefully and so should you!

See more information on Wikipedia on GMO items.