The “Hero” Ingredients

Over the years I have discovered what I like to call ‘hero’ ingredients. These ingredients can be used to make meals that are nutritious but most importantly, do not cost the earth.


Personally I love chili and use it in much of my cooking. Through my recipes you will learn that if used correctly, chili can add a wonderful spice and /or heat flavour to food without making it overpowering. Getting this balance is the key to using chili in cooking. When speaking to friends and family they are often scared to use any chili at all.


Verjuice is one of those special secrets of cooking. Through my experience I have used it in many different and new ways, it just seems that I use verjuice in so many different types of recipes both sweet and savoury. Verjuice is made from the juice of unripe grapes although other things such as sour fruits can also be used. Verjuice has a long history with the first references of its use appearing in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. It would be produced by monks and added to sauces or as a glaze for its sour tang.

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is one of my favourite ‘hero’ ingredients, I use its distinctive sweet flavour in so many different recipes, from something as simple as drizzling over porridge to being put in salad dressings, or added to a stir fry. However Manuka honey has been used for its health properties in New Zealand for hundreds of years by the Maori tribes, either taken as a medicine or placed on wounds to help the healing process. The Manuka tree itself is quite rare, growing only in certain areas of the New Zealand wilderness.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the oldest ingredients known to man. Its use as an ingredient dates back thousands of years. It is a staple of the Mediterranean diet and the world’s healthiest fat (extra virgin olive oil). Many of the health advantages with olive oil surround that of cardiovascular disease. With heart disease being one of the most common causes of death in the world, eating more olive oil could not be more important.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is loved the world over as a delicious sweet treat and has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food. Please keep in mind that I am referring to 70-85% cocoa solids chocolate not the standard milk chocolate bar, which is very high in sugar and highly processed.