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These are a few of my favorite things
aka The v8well Gift Guide
For those looking for gifting inspiration this holiday season, here is a roundup of my 10 favorite kitchen-connected things: both edible and not! As always, these are items you will find in my own kitchen and usually come from artisan brands which share my passion for food that loves you back. I am sending this out a bit earlier than usual in the hope that you find some good Thanksgiving deals. Be sure to treat yourself and those you love. 💚🎁
The Vegetarian Reset - For those looking to shake up their meatless cooking routine (I’m not biased, really). A gorgeous coffee table book that will not just provide plenty of inspiration for healthy holiday treats (think Shepherd’s Pie, Curried Lentil Bolognese and gluten-free Hazelnut Brownies) but will also continue giving well into the new year with recipes that put vegetables and protein centerstage. I will mail you an autographed bookplate (a sticker that makes it a signed copy) if you respond to this email and request one. Please allow enough time for snail mail! If you want to go the extra mile, make it a gift basket by adding in some of my favorite ingredients that are used in the book - Chickpea flour, Almond flour, Turmeric, Cumin and Hazelnut Butter or other items from the list below.
Olive oil - If you’ve read my article on olive oil, you know the secrets to choosing a high-quality EVOO at the supermarket and why you should drizzle generously and often! My favorite giftable brands are Brightland and Enzo‘s Table. Brightland has the most stunning packaging and also makes fabulous vinegars and honey. I love the flavored oils from Enzo, particularly the Clementine Crush that features in this recipe and the Fresno chili oil, which is usually spicier than Brightland. They also have an excellent gift section that does the mix ‘n’ match work for you!
Cheese - The Cheese Guy truly knows his cheese and is my single pick in this category. The cheeses are kosher, vegetarian and grass-fed from small family farms, and can absolutely hold their own against French and Italian brands. The Honey Goat Cheese, Parmesan and Pecorino are mainstays in my fridge and feature in several recipes in my cookbook. They also make excellent fig and strawberry preserves. For those interested in artisan plant-based cheeses, you may want to check out Seeductive Foods - I found them on Instagram and have been meaning to try their products - it is hard to find plant-based cheese without weird ingredients and these look great.
Pasta - I feel like I’ve become something of an authority on alternative pastas in the past couple of years! I love Kaizen for a low-carb pasta made with lupini bean flour, Zenb for a medium-carb pasta made with yellow peas that even my toddler will eat, and Jovial Foods Einkorn pasta for whole wheat that is great for gluten-sensitivity and honestly just in general - I’ve replaced all my regular pasta with this brand. Community Grains also makes a true whole wheat pasta, i.e. their wheat is milled while preserving the whole grain, as opposed to most conventional whole wheat products today that refine the grain entirely and then add back some fiber. A bundle of these products together with some good olive oil would make the perfect pasta-lover gift.
Spices - The conventional spice industry tends to aggregate spices in bulk via ‘middle-men’ and then repackage them for big companies to sell to consumers, usually diluting the quality and freshness of these products along the way. A better alternative for any lover of spices is to buy ‘single-origin’ brands. This indicates that the product is purchased directly from the farmer who makes a fair wage, and comes to you far sooner than it would conventionally, preserving its freshness and making your dishes more delicious. My favorite single origin spice companies are Burlap and Barrel, Diaspora Co and Vahdam India. I highly recommend the Floyd Cardoz collection from Burlap and Barrel, the Turmeric and Tadka Spoon from Diaspora Co, and the Spice Box from Vahdam India.
Tea and Coffee - The ‘single-origin’ philosophy applies to tea and coffee as well. I love Vahdam India’s Vanilla Spiced Masala Chai and also recommend their tea infuser. Anjali’s Cup makes my favorite chai masala with extra ginger (just add 1/4 tsp to your regular tea) and an excellent Turmeric Elixir. My coffee table is always stocked with Counter Culture Coffee and I love their nutty Big Trouble blend for my black coffee every morning. If you are in the market for a coffee machine, look at MoccaMaster. I also have this Baratza Virtuoso coffee grinder that changed my view on what good coffee should taste like!
Condiments - As a hopeless harissa addict thanks to Ottolenghi’s recipes, my favorites so far are Belazu Rose Harissa (less spicy) and regular Harissa from Pur and New York Shuk. Brooklyn Delhi’s tomato and garlic achaars are also extremely versatile condiments. Throw them on anything - eggs, dosa, sandwiches or wraps, salads, even pasta and they make it all better! PODI Life is another great brand that takes authentic South Indian pantry staples (podis) and reimagines their use - sprinkling them on everything from salads to avocado toast to grains. Every podi comes with an adorable postcard that explains how to use it!
Dessert - Now, now, did you just scroll down to this and ignore everything else? :) Hu Chocolate, Beyond Good and Laumiere Gourmet are my picks in this section. Hu Chocolate makes paleo-friendly fine chocolate with no weird ingredients. I have tried so many of their dark chocolate bars and they are all brilliant. They now have a grass-fed milk chocolate that’s so good. I love Beyond Good dark chocolate, especially this one with orange zest. Laumiere Gourmet is my Diwali recommendation - they make stunning giftable treats that are naturally sweetened with dried fruit - check out their holiday collection and use code V8WELL10 for 10% off.
Kitchenware - I love Material’s colorful cutting boards (including the mini), Misen knives and cooking tools and Caraway pans. Oh and while we are on the subject of knives, this Victorinox set is an excellent cheap paring knife that works on basically anything (and you better be careful because it is S-H-A-R-P).
Appliances - I always recommend my trusty Instant Pot for cooking legumes, grains and soups (and also for home-made yogurt). No more babysitting! I also have the Instant Pot air-fryer, which has a large base and is helpful to cook larger portions - I rarely use my oven now, which is a huge space-saving benefit in a Manhattan apartment ;) If you’re looking for a blender, this Ninja is an excellent all-purpose set. If you have the space, I also recommend the Vitamix, a smaller countertop Ninja for smoothies and the Shardor spice blender for spices and chutneys.
If you have questions about any of this, feel free to respond to this email and I will answer to the best of my ability! Wishing you some happy shopping, happy gifting, good times and good eats! XOXO