I am a label addict. I love my brands. Not clothes, shoes or handbags (although I wouldn’t say no to some genuine LV luggage or a Chloe handbag if one was on offer). Grocery labels. Yeah, my early twenties-me would be disgusted that I now spend more time perusing the back of tins than I do flicking through Vogue (of which I’ve had a copy on my coffee table for three months and haven’t even opened it).
Picture this – you decide to be amazing and make something from scratch so you know exactly what’s in it… until you realise all your so called natural ingredients are full of additives, stabilisers, sugar, salt and other random things. It kind of makes you wonder why you bothered cooking from scratch in the first place! Grocery shopping can be expensive and labels are SO confusing so it pays to know what you’re looking for when trying to eat healthy.
I have been a label addict for years now so I know which brands I love and which ones make me angry. Almond milk, for example, is one of the most overly processed things out there and often contains more added sugar than almonds – whaaaat?! I’m so passionate about it, once I even had a disagreement with a very snotty barista , who took offence when I asked what almond milk they used and it was a brand I didn’t like. But that’s a story for another time. And he was very rude by the way!
So, I’m here to give you just some of my favourite pantry brands and for the record, I am NOT getting paid by these brands (I WISH). I’m recommending these because I have done my research and read the labels to find the best, most natural options out there for a healthier, happier pantry.
Apologies some of the pictures are really small but if you want to read the labels in more detail, just click on the photo.
Oh and here’s some motivation to keep on reading, I’ve got a discount code for you at the end for one of my favourite brands 🙂
Tinned tomatoes – Annalisa: This is a pantry must-have for me. I am NEVER without a few tins in my pantry! Frustratingly, I have not found an Aussie brand that doesn’t contain salt, sugar or some kind of preservative so, I choose Annalisa and the best part about these is they often come on special so I stock up when they do!
Tomato paste – Leggo’s or Aldi organic: This should be 100% tomatoes. Nothing else. The brands I choose are Leggo’s ‘no added salt’ or Aldi’s organic range. Aldi features a lot in this post. Aldi is coming up with the goods!
Coconut milk and cream – Ayam: This is one of my absolute favourite brands. Just coconut and water – as it should be. I will admit, it is expensive, and have recently discovered the Homebrand version is just as good so I may be converted! And just for the record, I prefer to buy the full-fat version of coconut milk and cream – otherwise you’re just paying for more water! One negative on the Aldi front… I bought their coconut milk and cream and to be honest, I found the taste really awful. They’re good on the ingredients but not so much on taste.
Curry paste – Ayam: I wish I could say I always make my own curry paste. I know it tastes SO much better when I do, but honestly, I do NOT have the time! So, my brand of choice is again, Ayam. I can pronounce and understand all the ingredients, it does contain some palm oil and a little sugar, but all the other ingredients are herbs and spices and genuine curry paste ingredients, so I’m ok with that.
Noodles – Pandaroo: These brown rice noodles (I can only find them at Woolworths in the Asian section) are my favourite! 100% brown rice – how good is that?! I’ve recently discovered black bean noodles and sweet potato noodles – I just love when there’s only one ingredient!
Peanut butter – Sanitarium natural peanut butter: Step AWAY from the nasty peanut butters! Ugh, there are SO many additives in ‘regular’ peanut butter! Especially sugar – yuck! I make my own, however Sanitarium does a great 100% peanuts version. Yes, that’s all peanut butter should be! It’s usually found in the health food section, if it’s not with all the other disgusting sugar-salt-chemical filled spreads!
Coconut water / poppers– H2Coco: I love coconut water for smoothies and rehydrating if I’ve had… umm… a few too many drinks the night before. My
go-to brand is H2Coco, because it’s 100% coconut water and it tastes delicious. They also have flavoured varieties which are great if you like things a little sweeter (I’m not a massive fan, personally) again, all natural and no additives. I am lucky enough to be a brand ambassador for H2Coco but I PROMISE you, I was a fan before we started collaborating.
If you’re looking for kids juices/poppers for lunch boxes, H2Coco has just brought out a lunchbox range. I would never, and will never, promote something I don’t believe is good for my son, so I am happy to spruke their poppers range. H LOVES the H2Melonwater one (100% watermelon juice) and the little coconut water poppers. My personal favourite is the coffee coconut water, and for all you chocolate lovers out there, there’s a healthy chocolate one too – tastes like chocolate milk without the tummy ache afterwards!
Desiccated coconut – Aldi: Not exactly something you’d think you need to read the label of! But most supermarket brands have additives in them so I was thrilled to discover the Aldi brand doesn’t! It’s always in a bit of an obscure place, not with the flours and sugars – I usually find it on top of the freezer section.
Yogurt – Farmer’s Union or Tamar Valley: I’m a big advocate for buying plain, Greek yogurt and adding your own fruit/flavours too. Sugar is WAY too high up on the flavoured yogurt ingredient list for my liking. And this way, you’re not committing yourself to 1kg of one flavour! Add some pure vanilla, berries, banana, fresh mango – endless options and much healthier choices. The brands I’m recommending are my favourite for ingredients AND taste. Oh, and buy full cream – low-fat has nasty added sugar and natural yogurt is often very tart and not as enjoyable (but that’s my opinion!) I have recently started making my own yogurt and my clever friend T taught me how to make it without having to use the yogurt makers own packet mix so it’s cheaper and healthier – win!
Breadcrumbs: Let’s be real here. It’s just bread, blitzed up. Well, it SHOULD be. Have you ever read the ingredients for store-bought breadcrumbs? Some isn’t even vegetarian which is incredibly concerning! Take five minutes (not even) out of your day and blitz old bread in your food processor and chuck this into a zip lock bag in your freezer. Breadcrumbs on hand 24/7. Or, use oats! Oats make a great binder too.
Microwave packet rice: The convenience of rice cooked in 90 seconds is incredibly appealing. There are brands out there that are 100% rice (although most have stabilisers and salt in them), however for the amount you get in a packet, they’re expensive! So, next time you make rice for your curry, make double and once cooled, freeze it in a zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When meal time comes, break off enough for your meal into a bowl, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil (I do this with brown rice as it can get a little dry) and zap for 60-90 seconds in the microwave. Done!
Rice malt syrup – Pure Harvest: Probably one of my favourite supermarket brands. I LOVE their products (not sponsored, I swear!) because they’re all natural. When I discovered rice malt syrup, it revolutionised my cooking and my health. I substitute it in baking for golden syrup. I put it in baking instead of sugar (and use about 1/3 of the amount of sweetener). It is amazing.
Nut milks – Pure Harvest: I have nothing against dairy or cows milk. I buy it for my husband and for H (I never buy supermarket-branded milk as the farmer’s get more money from sales on the branded milks) however for me, it leaves me a little bloated and uncomfortable. So, I jumped on the nut milk bandwagon a good five years ago and throughout this time, have trialed a LOT of bad products. My preference is almond milk, but I also buy coconut milk as it’s delicious in my greeñacolda smoothie (I’ve linked the recipe here for you!)
As I mentioned above, SO many brands are one or two per cent nuts, they have added sweeteners, preservatives and other rubbish. Sure, it’s best to make your own but I do NOT have the time, patience or $$ for that! So my favourite for both coconut and almond milk is Pure Harvest. Yes, it has a little organic rice syrup in it (they do have an unsweetened almond milk, but it has less almonds in it… I don’t understand why!) but it has the most almonds and I can understand all the ingredients!
A few more tips…
* If sugar is high on the ingredients list, avoid it!
* If you can’t pronounce or understand most of the ingredients, don’t eat it.
* For the majority of your shop, try to stick to the outside of the supermarket – fish, meat, fruit, vege etc
* Stock up on your favourite brands when they’re are on special – I have a slight obsession when it comes to this one. To the point that when rice malt syrup was half price one week, B had to physically show me my ‘collection’ in my pantry and explain that I already had a six to 12-month supply and it would surely come on special again closer to when I run out.
* Fancy trying the H2coco range? You can get 25% off from h2coco.com.au by using my discount code ‘H2lunchbox’ – you’re welcome, enjoy and you can thank me later!
This is by no means a complete list so if you have any questions about what other brands I recommend for your favourite foods, drop me a message below, I would LOVE to chat pantries (had to make sure I didn’t forget the ‘r’ in that one!!) with you!
Love Dan xx