Cooking in Korea isn’t always easy. Fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables are plentiful at even the smallest supermarkets, but all those extra bits that go into making meals so often aren’t. People always ask me where I manage to find so many western ingredients for my recipes. And to be honest it comes from a host of places. I often shop at the foreign food mart in Itaewon, and go to Costco once a month, but aside from that it all comes from iHerb. About a year or so ago I discovered i-Herb and quite frankly it changed my life here. Not in a big way, but it made eating healthy so much easier. It also opened me up to whole host of ingredients that I could get easily with the minimum amount of effort. The site is very easy to use and completely in English or various other languages like Korean. Once you register you only have to add your address and card details once then you are good to go. It saves them for the next time and from then on its just a click of a button to place your orders. If you are a first timer you can use this code MRV792 to get $10 off your first order, which will cover the $4.00 shipping costs and give you a whopping $6.00 worth of free goodies. They also run other promotions and for this month they are offering an extra 10% off if you spend over $40.00. The prices are similar to those you would expect in the states, and even with shipping costs I think it works out cheaper than buying things from the foreign food mart or other Korean online establishments.
The first thing I want to talk about is health supplements, there are 1000s of different vitamins and such, but the two things I now include in my daily diet, and couldn’t live without, are spirulina and chia seeds. Mixed in with a green smoothie I barely taste them, but they have so many benefits for my health I couldn’t imagine not taking them. They are both excellent for cleaning the liver and riding your body of toxins which come from eating fast food and drinking too much soju. I also often order coconut water too, to help revive me during my many hangovers.
If you have seen my recipes you will know that I’m an avid baker and finding anything but regular white flour can be tricky here. iHerb has every kind of flour you could imagine and more whole wheat, rye, grain, gluten free, corn, coconut, and other alternatives. They also have healthy oils and fats like coconut oil. This is still currently the cheapest price you will find it.
There are also lots of other supplementary ingredients like chocolate chips, vanilla extract, dried fruit, raw nuts, and natural flavourings that can supplement your baking or provide healthy snacks. The Ghirardelli chocolate chips are always an integral part of my chocolate brownies. And I’m absolutely obsessed with pecans!
I also tend to shop for my beans and grains online too. The cans you get here are so expensive, and having a few different beans in the cupboard is always a great way to rustle up a quick and easy dinner like my mixed bean salad. It’s also the cheapest place to get quinoa, couscous, and an abundance of other gluten free, or whole grain rice and pastas.
The cheapest and best ingredients on here are probably the herbs and spices. Everything you could imagine and more is here, if it’s not it probably doesn’t exist! The best part is they have the small jars for a few dollars, but they also sell in pounds for about $7 . It’s amazing, if it’s something you use regularly it really is way cheaper, you could even split one with a friend. Things I buy in bulk are Italian herbs, paprika, cumin, celery salt, and Mexican seasoning. They also have lots of nice BBQ seasoning and rubs.
For homemade muesli or granola makers it’s a dream. Rye flakes, wheat flakes, oats, bran, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. You can also get organic varieties of pretty much everything.
As an English person I’m a big fan of drinking tea and there really is a wonderful selection online. Chai, mango, pomegranate, lemon, peppermint, caffeine free to name just a few. They have tea bags in spades.
It’s just healthy snacks either, there are lots of fun things like white chocolate peanut butter, kettle chips, and fair trade chocolate bars. So many delicious ingredients that make life a little more bearable when you are away from home, like BBQ and Honey Dijon crisps!
So if you are still an iHerb virgin, have a look and see what’s there. You might be surprised at what you find and it will save you trekking to Seoul next time you are desperate for that elusive component for your latest concoction. Again you can use this code MRV792 to get $10 off your first order. Happy shopping!