Foods That Start with A (And Interesting Facts About Each Food!)
Given the current times, there is a good chance you have been spending a little more time in the kitchen cooking, baking, and trying out new recipes. Test your knowledge of 12 common foods that begin with the letter A. The list below showcases common food items including spices, meals, dips, fruits, and veggies.
Our List of Foods That Start with A
Contrary to popular belief, allspice is not a mix of different spices. It does, however, carry a combination of the following flavors: clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Chefs, homemakers, and avid cooks use allspice in both savory and sweet dishes. You can expect to find allspice in treats like Christmas pudding, pumpkin pies, cakes, and muffins. Savory recipes that feature allspice include Jamaican jerk chicken and Swedish meatballs. Allspice is actually dried berries that come from a tropical tree called Pimenta dioica. P. dioica is indigenous to the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America.
Unsurprisingly, allspice is also referred to as ‘Jamaican Pepper’. During the summer, P. dioica produce small white flowers, and from there the berries emerge. The berries are so tiny it takes about 5,700 to make one pound of ground up allspice. While allspice became popular to use in European and Mediterranean dishes in the 16th century, it is now readily traded; grown in some parts of Mexico and Central America, but mostly Jamaica where the soil is best.
The avocado is an all-time favorite fruit that transcends across the health and fitness community, the influencer crowd, and through the regular Joe Shmoe. From the “Yes! I’ll take the guac, I just got paid”, to shelling out over $10 for a simple avocado toast at a trendy cafe, avocados are a highly coveted superfood. With its vitamin rich composition, large potassium content, and abundance of healthy fats, it is no wonder people include this low-carb fruit in their daily diets.
While avocados have the cumbersome seed in the center (watch out for avocado hand!), they were not always as fleshy as they are now. Avocados had even larger pits in the center with the thin fleshy part barely covering the seed. They were also much smaller than the palm size Haas avocados we now have, too. Out in the wild avocados are a lot less fleshy; the avocados we purchase at the grocery store have been deliberately cultivated by humans to look the way they look. This does not mean they are dangerous or less nutritious to eat, however, so keep on using them for dips, toppings, and sides.
Aioli is one of those dips that can instantly put you in a better mood. It is the heavenly, creamy, savory goodness that fills the miniature container next to the fancy silver cone shaped basket of fries at a restaurant. While some may think of aioli as an upgraded mayonnaise, the first true version of aioli was only oil and garlic. Historians are split on its place of origin, listing Provence, France, and Eastern Spain as the most likely spots of inception. Both places have a slightly different take on recipes, however.
The main difference between the two geographic locations is the addition of egg yolk. Spaniards believed the true form was only garlic and oil, termed “allioli” in Catalan, while the French added egg yolks to facilitate the emulsion process. This makes sense, as in the past, aioli was made by using a mortar and pestle. Both styles, however, are served at room temperature. Easy recipes that you can find online tend to be an upscale garlic mayo, though. Whatever they case, garlic is delicious, and we cannot seem to get enough of it.
And if you need more great food ideas, check out our article on “The Foods That Start With J” here.
Ambrosia: you either love her or hate her. While people are fairly creative with what they include in their ambrosia fruit salads, a traditional ambrosia dish contains pineapple, cherries, oranges, pecans, and coconut, is tossed in whipped cream, and mixed in plenty marshmallows. “Ambrosia” means delicious or fragrant and stems from Greek mythology – it was a magical fruit of the gods which granted immortality. The earliest recipe dates back to 1867, written by a woman from Northern Carolina, Maria Massey.
Her recipe, however, is much simpler than our traditional ambrosia. Massey’s recipe called for a mere three ingredients: oranges, coconut, and sugar. This dish gained wide popularity in the South, and as it made its way to people’s homes around the country recipes grew in variation. If you love this fruity salad, or the warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia it brings, mark your calendars for December 12th, National Ambrosia Day.
Açai is one of those words that make you point to the menu instead of saying out loud, simply because of its unique pronunciation. For the record it is ‘ah-sah-ee’, a berry that grows on palm trees in the swamps of Central and South America. It has gained popularity for being a superfood, with its antioxidant properties and rich fiber content. Usually, we see açai berries in blended form, pictured in beautiful smoothie bowls topped with chia seeds, coconut shreds, bananas, among other yummy fruits. They are a little pricey as well, you can grab one of these at Jamba Juice for around $8. With recent do it yourself or do it at home trends, you might be tempted to whip up your own açai bowl.
You can usually find açai purées in the frozen aisle of your grocery store, in powder form from health stores or online, but you will not find them fresh. Açaí berries are never to be exported into the U.S. due to their fast degradation time. Their high fat content expedites its timetable; within a day of picking, they will go bad. So, it is infeasible to ship and keep these berries accessible at local stores or farmers markets. If you ever get the chance to visit the Amazon Rainforest make sure to grab a handful and try them fresh. Until then, enjoy these in smoothie, bowl, or juice form.
The first time I had alfalfa was in the form of sprouts, on top of an everything bagel with hummus and cucumber. It provides a nice crunch as well as vitamins and minerals with barely any calories. There is a good chance you, too, have seen or tasted alfalfa sprouts, since the alfalfa leaves are too bitter to consume on their own. Turns out the sprouts are germinated seeds, the period of growth when seeds barely begin to grow and sprout. While other seeds like pumpkin, pinto, and sunflower also sprout, alfalfa is the most popular.
Commercially, alfalfa seeds take about 3-10 days before the sprouts are ready to be picked, depending on how mature the cultivator needs them to be. It is fairly simple to grow these yourself. There are various low-maintenance how-to’s online which require only a few items like the seeds, a jar, water, and indirect sunlight. Weather purchased at the store, at a coffee shop, or home grown, alfalfa sprouts are one that you should try at least once. Who knows, you might be surprised at how great they complement your already favorite dishes.
Applesauce is one of those foods that we often take for granted. We think of feeding it to our toothless babies or our elderly grandparents. Applesauce has been around since the 1700’s, with origins from both Central Europe and England. Since refrigeration was not possible at the time, it was a creative and efficient way to convert fresh apples into a form that would last longer. While applesauce is mostly used as a snack, it was originally intended as a side dish to accompany varying meats.
During wartimes and the Great Depression when eggs, sugar, and butter were in limited supply, applesauce was an excellent substitute for all three. It is said that using applesauce when baking was considered patriotic because citizens conserved high demand sources to send off to soldiers. During those tough times applesauce cake and applesauce cookies became popular. They have not been forgotten; however, people like to keep these recipes alive with slightly modern twists.
People like to substitute oil with applesauce when baking because it significantly reduces calories. Applesauce is also a good source of fiber and Vitamin C. It is also the ‘A’ in the BRAT diet (the others being banana, rice, and toast) which is recommended when you have an upset stomach. Good for snacking, as a side dish for dinner, or for baking, applesauce is one of those simple foods that is delicious, nutritious, and versatile.
Safe for pescatarians and a healthier alternative than red meat for the omnivore eater, fish is an excellent dietary choice. The albacore tuna fish is widely popular in its canned version, usually available as solid white albacore or chunk white tuna. When packed in water, albacore has about the same amount of protein as chicken and beef, but at significantly less calories and fat. Albacore tuna is versatile as it can be used in salads, sandwiches, with crackers, as a casserole, among many others. It is also a sushi favorite. Experts say to beware, however, and not confuse ‘white tuna’ with albacore. If sushi restaurants offer albacore, they will disclose ‘albacore’ in the menu. Otherwise, white tuna usually refers to oilfish, butterfish or escolar, which can produce less than pleasant side effects if consumed.
Aside from the rich protein content, albacore tuna is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides in the human body (triglycerides help make up one’s body fat). These omegas also help with heart health by slowing down the rate that plaque builds up in your arteries. Albacore tuna is highly beneficial (except for pregnant women that should limit their consumption) and can be enjoyed in various dishes.
An apricot is like a peach’s less popular sister (there is no apricot emoji… just saying). Apricots are smaller, more tart, and less juicy than a peach. Both have fuzzy skin, and feature nutritious benefits such as potassium, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Beta carotene is the pigment that gives fruits and veggies their yellow and orange color. It also acts as a provitamin, which means it helps the human body produce vitamin A, which is essential for good eye health, skin, and our immune systems.
Americans are fortunate because apricots are produced right here in the United States. Around 85% of growth happens in California, where the climates generally do not reach either hot or cold extreme. Other states that grow apricots include Utah, Washington, and Oregon. Some people even attempt to grow their own trees in their backyard. Also, you can check out some other fruits in our article Foods That Start With K.
If you ever find yourself needing peaches for a recipe but only have apricots on hand, consider what the dish is. For example, when the recipe is dependent on the juiciness of the fruit, like for baking or for salsa, apricots may not cut it. For smoothies or to mix in with salads, apricots will suffice. Dried apricots, jams, cookies – especially the Knotts Berry Farm shortbread ones – and even fresh apricots as a mini snack will continue to be a crowd pleaser for as long as we can continue to produce these petite fruits packed with flavor.
The word ‘antipasto’ blends the two Latin words ‘ante’ which means before, and ‘pastus’ which means food. You may have also seen the word ‘antipasti’ which is just the plural form of antipasto. Generally speaking, antipasto can refer to appetizers; foods meant to stimulate the appetite. Done right, they are finger foods that have different textures and smells, are able to engage the senses, make the diner crave more, and prepare him or her for the larger, more specialized meal. In Italy, the traditional antipasto course dates back to the 16th century. A traditional antipasto course includes various cheeses including but not limited to brie, blue, humboldt fog, d’affinois, camembert, and aged provolone; cured meats like salami, spicy capicola, prosciutto, mortadella, and bresaola; olives, and bread.
While our current antipasto versions include a large variety of foods, early recipes from Medieval Times included basic foods like sugared nuts, clotted cream, and spiced ham. It is no secret that antipasto is fairly similar to a charcuterie board. The charcuterie board however, originated in France, where ‘charcuterie’ originally meant a process of curing meats. The charcuterie board was intended to display only meats, but it has now taken on a similar form as the antipasto platter with the cheeses and the fruits and can also include crackers. Not only is the antipasto platter delicious, but it also represents a culture that values and emphasizes community, sharing, and spending time with loved ones during mealtimes or special events.
Grilled, steamed, or seared, asparagus is a healthy and delicious side, snack, or appetizer. Normally we see green asparagus spears, but they also grow white or purple. In season, which is February to June, you might get lucky and find some purple or white asparagus at your nearby farmer’s market. Otherwise, you may be able to pick up some jarred white asparagus from your nearby specialty grocery store. The white and purple spears are more popular in Europe than here in America. White asparagus is grown underground, and as a result it lacks sunlight and does not produce chlorophyll, the pigment that would otherwise make it green.
Besides cultivation and location differences, all three spears have different flavors and textures. Green asparagus tastes earthy and grassy, while white asparagus tends to taste more mild and bitter. Purple asparagus is nuttier and sweetest of all because its stalks have about 20% more sugar in them. Green asparagus is generally considered the healthiest of all three due to its higher antioxidant, potassium, fiber, and vitamin content. The white stalks tend to be thicker and harder to chew, so it is best if the bottom of the stalks are peeled. If you do happen to get your hands on purple asparagus, note that the inside will be green. If you decide to cook it, it will lose its purple color completely. Green, white, or purple, asparagus is a great addition to pastas, salads, poultry, and seafood, as well as their own.
Almonds are one of those products that can infiltrate your kitchen in every way, shape, and form. You can: eat them raw, toast them, dip them in chocolate, shave them and add them to cereal, crush and sprinkle them, cook with it as oil, spread it as butter, drink it as milk, and even use it in flour form to bake. People love almonds because they are natural, satiating, and a good source of protein, vitamins, and healthy fats.
While most may think of almonds as a nut, they are actually a seed since they are enclosed in a dry, hard-shelled fruit. In the U.S., the shell is typically not eaten. However, in some parts of the world the fruits are picked before the seed (almond) is hard. This only happens a couple of weeks out of the year. The shell is described as crunchy and fuzzy, while the inside is creamy and jelly-like.
Almond milk makes an excellent alternative to cow’s milk, as it is lactose-free and lower in calories and fat. Gluten intolerant folks choose almond flour for their baked goods, and almond butter is a perfect option for individuals with a peanut allergy. You can incorporate almonds into your daily diet in a variety of nutritious yet delicious forms.