A few of my favorite Specialty Foods

If you rummaged through the pantry of my childhood home, you wouldn’t find Oreos, Lays chips, or other common brands of snack foods and treats. Instead, you’d find stroopwafels imported from Belgium, Brent & Sam’s Key Lime White Chocolate Cookies, and various other specialty foods.

It is even a Christmas tradition of my dad’s to go through stacks of catalogs and pick out various cakes, smoked meats, and treats to be mailed to our doorstep for the holidays, and he still does this today.

It’s clearly all the doing of my dad, but I have a love for specialty foods that you now know started in my childhood.

While it’s true that specialty foods can be a little more expensive than the common national brand, I find them to generally be of higher quality and a more interesting product. Some of the cookies I buy (like those Belgian stroopwafels) would be a bit challenging to make at home because of a lack of equipment, so I’m happy to buy them instead.

Today I’m highlighting a few of my favorite specialty foods!

(Oh, and none of this is sponsored, by the way).

Halo Top Ice Cream

Halo Top Creamery: So, Halo Top has gotten kind of huge lately, but they’re very much offering a product that is unlike any other ice cream I’ve seen. My dad and little brother told me about this ice cream a while back, and sung its praises as a low calorie ice cream that actually tastes good. I recently tried a bunch of their flavors and have to say overall I agree.

Their ice cream is all low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar, and they still manage to use all-natural ingredients.

Do I like all the flavors? Honestly, no. But some of the flavors I didn’t like are my brother’s favorite, for instance, so I think it’s worth trying a few to see what you like. My personal favorites are birthday cake, red velvet, black cherry, pistachio, and peanut butter cup.

Sir Kensington's Mayonnaise

Sir Kensington’s: I know, I know, another one that has actually become pretty widely available lately, but it’s because Sir Kensington’s is DELICIOUS! They make all kinds of condiments, but my favorite products are their mayonnaises.

You know how some people are grossed out by mayonnaise? And then they try homemade mayonnaise and they’re like oh wait, mayonnaise can actually be delicious? Sir Kensington’s tastes the closest to homemade out of any brand I’ve tried.

Seriously, if you try a little lick of their mayonnaise and compare it to all the plastic blue lidded brands at the grocery store, you’ll be astounded by how much better it tastes. You can see how different the texture and color is too.

I’ve never had a bad condiment from Sir Kensington’s, and I love their mustards, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Highly recommend them!

Poppies Belgian Chocolate Macaroons

Poppies: I have ALWAYS loved coconut macaroons, and these are my favorite. I actually only discovered them a couple years back when I was at the Fancy Food Show in New York City, and the man running their booth was insistent that I take one to try. I wasn’t in the mood to try it right then but I saved it in my purse to eat later, and I fell in love. Now I always pick up a package at Whole Foods to keep in my pantry!

They have a really nice chewiness, a lovely sweetness, a hint of chocolate, and you can see it’s perfectly golden brown on the edges. When it comes to Coconut Macaroons, I think they totally nail it.

Rustic Bakery Rosemary & Olive Oil Crackers

Rustic Bakery Crackers: I have a thing for fancy crackers and these Rosemary & Olive Oil flatbread strips are one of my favorites. Spread them with a little fig jam and top with thinly sliced manchego cheese, and you have one of my favorite snacks in the whole world.

Other fine cracker brands I like are La Panzanella, Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps, and Firehook.

Ninja Squirrel Sriracha Hot Sauce

Ninja Squirrel Sriracha: Sriracha is often called “rooster sauce,” which came from the most popular brand of Sriracha (Huy Fong), which has a picture of a rooster on the front of the bottle. That particular brand has some ingredients in it that I try to avoid, but an alternate brand I like is Ninja Squirrel. It has really great flavor and that heat you want in a sriracha sauce.

Alessi Balsamic Reduction

Alessi Balsamic Reductions: When I make homemade salad dressing, I use balsamic reduction instead of vinegar. It’s sweeter, thicker, and still gives the tang I want but without so much harshness.

My grandma also loves balsamic reduction on vanilla ice cream but well, I like sprinkles with my ice cream, hah.

Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos

Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos: There was a time when I was nursing James where I had to avoid dairy and soy, and I learned a lot about alternatives for those categories. A great substitute for soy sauce is coconut aminos, which has a similar umami character to it but is made from coconut tree sap.

SO Delicious Coconut milk Yogurt

SO Delicious Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative: James (my 1-year old) is still eating dairy free, so we feed him alternative yogurts, like this one made with coconut milk, or almond milk based yogurts. They are surprisingly good!! It’s a great way to have something creamy and a little sweet and get those probiotics, but without the dairy.

Kite Hill is an almond milk based brand that’s also fantastic. Vanilla is my favorite flavor.

Pacific Organic Oat Non-Dairy Beverage

Pacific Oat Milk (rather, Non-dairy beverage): Almond milk seems so commonplace now compared to all the things they’re making “milk” of these days. There’s almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, even hazelnut milk! A lot of almond milks are sweetened, but oat milk has a shocking amount of natural sweetness to it. It’s great for dairy-free baking!

Mother In Law's Gochujang

Mother In Law’s: My mother is from South Korea, so I grew up eating a ton of homemade Korean food. Sourcing the ingredients always required a special trip to the Korean grocery store when I was growing up, so it makes me SO happy to see Korean ingredients carried at more and more grocery stores, like Whole Foods. This brand in particular is one I see at my local grocery! They have a wide variety of products, but I like their kimchi and gochujang, which is a chile sauce used in many Korean dishes.

Little Spoon Baby Blends

And a baby item: Little Spoon! I get a lot of emails from companies asking to send me products, and I say no to 99% of them. But what I read about Little Spoon intrigued me and I decided to try some with James. I make the majority of his food from scratch, but occasionally it’s nice to have other food around to fill in here and there. Previously I would give him those standard pouches of food, but evidently the food in there can be very old. Little Spoon makes fruit and vegetable purees that are pretty fresh (they only last about 14 days in the fridge) and I tried some myself, it’s delicious! James really enjoyed some of the purees (not all of them, but that’s to be expected, since apparently nothing will make this boy keen to kale πŸ˜‰ ), and their line has a good mix of fruit-focused and veggie-focused purees.

What are some of your favorite specialty foods? Share in the comments below. I’d love to try!