We live in a time when we constantly seek something faster, better, or newer. After all, we enjoy giving traditional recipes a modern twist. Likewise, modern times have changed how we shop for ingredients and the foods we buy. Nowadays, it’s common to have your groceries delivered to your door or, at the very least, to your lifted car trunk. It’s common to forego traditional ingredients in favor of time-saving pre-prepared elements. However, dismissing these underappreciated ingredients is a mistake.
Are any groceries on your Instacart list canned pineapple or canned peaches? Or tarragon or simply beans? While these ingredients may appear old-fashioned or boring, even if they are, they are still worth your money.
We asked an award-winning nutrition expert and chefs to highlight their favorite underappreciated old-fashioned ingredients that no one uses anymore but should be. The results were varied and eye-opening, as well as potentially very tasty.
Polenta is making a comeback in restaurants and at home. Polenta is an Italian cornmeal that can be used instead of mashed potatoes or rice in various dishes. Golden praises it for being extremely adaptable. Polenta can be prepared in multiple ways, such as cakes, baked polenta with cheese and mushrooms, and creamy polenta porridge.
2. Peaches and pineapple in cans
Canned peaches and pineapple are a quick and tasty way to add more fruits to your diet. Unfortunately, only 15% of Americans meet their daily recommended amount of fruit, according to the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans.
And just because these canned fruits are in a can doesn’t mean they’re less nutritious than fresh fruit. On the contrary, because of their long shelf life and low cost, canned pineapple and peaches are excellent ways to get more fruit.
Apart from eating the fruit straight from the can, these pantry staples can be used in various dishes and baked goods. For example, canned pineapple and peaches can be used to sweeten oatmeal (both the liquid and the fruit), added to muffins, cake, and pancake batters, and even blended into smoothies.
3. Cottage Cheddar
Cottage cheese may have been hidden under your napkin as a kid, but this protein and calcium-rich cheese should not be overlooked today. Cottage cheese is considered one of the first cheeses made in America. Protein, calcium, vitamins B12 and A, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium are all found in this cheese.
Combine two old-fashioned ingredients, cottage cheese, and canned peaches, for a nutritious snack or quick breakfast. Cottage cheese and canned peaches were on many diner menus in the 1980s and are still on some menus today. Cottage cheese is now less popular, but it is still a very nutritious food that I include in recipes in all nine of my cookbooks. I use cottage cheese in everything from smoothies and dips to eating it with fruit and granola.
4. Celery root
Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a root vegetable with numerous health benefits. It’s also high in fiber, which can help with heart and digestive health. Celeriac is a delicious addition to soups and stews. Celery root can also be mashed and serves as a low-carb substitute for potatoes in various dishes. Use raw, shredded celeriac to add crunch to salads and a fresh element to slaw. It’s also an excellent substitute for rice if you’re watching your carbs or following a gluten-free diet.
Cinnamon is commonly associated with baking or holiday treats, but it was initially used to prevent food spoilage and to season savory dishes. I propose reintroducing it to delicious dishes like lentils, meat bolognese, soups, and toasted winter vegetables like butternut squash and sweet potatoes. It also has blood sugar-balancing effects, a complex peppery and sweet flavor profile, and its scent may be a mood booster. For example, in her Spiced Up Fall Salad, I add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to bring out the flavor of the roasted butternut squash.
Because of its fiber and phytonutrients, the basic bean is thought to promote longevity. Unfortunately, many people avoid them nowadays because they believe they are unappealing, too simple, or too difficult to digest. Beans, whether soaked and cooked into a stew-like preparation with ginger, cumin, and bay leaf to improve digestibility, or mashed into everyday favorites like avocado toast with a drizzle of lime juice fresh herbs, should be enjoyed regularly. To make a taco salad, I sprinkle them over crunchy lettuce like Little Leaf Farms, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and corn.
Tarragon was once popular in classical French cuisine but now has much to offer in the modern kitchen. I like to mix it into a mayonnaise-based creamy dressing with red wine vinegar and drizzle it over an apple fennel red onion salad with Little Leaf Farms’ crispy lettuce for a delicate herbaceous note.
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