Versatility is Key

Add multi-purpose products to your grocery cart

By Robert Beauchamps

Frank Sinatra. Now there was a man who could do it all: sing, dance, act, and dazzle you with his repartee. Talk about versatility. That's why every time I go to the grocery store, I'm on the lookout for products like Sinatra: maximum versatility. Here's what always makes my shopping list.

A squeeze here, a splash there, lemons add zest to just about any beverage and dish. Their juice also keeps apples from going brown and cuts through greasy dishwater. Cut one in half and clean your cutting board. Buy lemons by the dozen.

Apple cider vinegar
Aside from salad dressings and fermenting foods, apple cider vinegar has dozens of practical uses in the home. It's the main ingredient in traps for fruit flies. Take a teaspoon to cure the hiccups. Feel a cold coming on? Mix a tablespoon of the vinegar with a tablespoon of warm water and gargle every hour. Acetic acid, the main ingredient in ACV, balances the pH level of your hair. In turn, this strengthens the strands and adds lustre. Simply mix half a cup with four cups of water and rinse after you shampoo.

Frozen peas and carrots
I always have a large bag of peas and carrots close at hand in the freezer. Fresh is best, you say? Not always. Frozen veg is picked, packed and frozen at peak freshness. Add a cup or two to any hot dish at the last minute, stir, and savour the pop of texture, taste, and colour, too. I use them in my famous fried rice and a lot of stir fry dishes. For practical uses, a large, flexible bag of frozen peas and carrots makes the perfect ice pack for aches and pains or to simply cool off during a heat wave.

Even if you're not into baking, it's a good idea to have some cinnamon handy. A bag of cinnamon sticks from the bulk food store is even better. This way, you can grind the sticks into powder as needed. Freshly ground means more health benefits, including what I call the "three antis": anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidants.

This is the natural sweetener everyone should employ. Not only does raw honey bring the triple-anti threat (see above), it can be used on an open cut or burn as an antibiotic ointment. My daughters also employ it as an ingredient in their homemade facial scrub.

Bananas aren't just for snacks on the go. Yes, they provide potassium and a solid energy boost when 3 p.m. hits, but they also whiten your teeth. It's true. Take the banana peel and rub the inside of the peel along your top and bottom teeth for a minute or so. Let sit for about 10 minutes, and then scrub away any residue with a regular tooth-brushing session. Now smile a smile like Sinatra.


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