Essentials of a Healthy Pantry
Whole Wheat Bulgur
Rices: White or Brown Basmati rice, wild rice, brown rice:
Essential because they are whole grain (think fiber and minerals) and they cook up quickly
Whole wheat bread or sandwich rounds
100% whole wheat.
Great base or addition to grain or pasta dish or stews. This is a staple
Tomato paste 1-2 small cans
A staple in many dishes
Canned beans-5-6 cans. Different kinds
Fiber, minerals, you name it. Beans have it. Adding these to soups, salads and side dishes (and using them in main dishes) boasts the nutritional value of the meal.
Tuna packed in water-solid albacore
Low fat, more white meat, great for salad and sandwiches
Good for tasty sauces
Canned artichokes, in water
Another great addition to salads and pasta dishes
Whole grain crackers with a hint of salt
Crackers are nice to have as long as we keep to the 1 serving size. Hint of salt is a nice way of saying “low salt”
Baked Tortilla Chips
Nice to eat with salsa or hummus. Keep to one serving size and increase the nutritional value by trying ww or one with flax seeds
Nuts-Almonds, pecans, walnuts
Good for snacks and salads. Great addition to some sauces like our red pepper sauce to thicken and tasten’ it up.
White Whole Wheat Flour
Gives at least some whole wheat to your baked goods and doesn’t make the product dense
Not great for baking but good in dishes
Oats- old fashioned or thick cut, and steel oats for oatmeal
Dried fruit: cranberries, raisins, coconut flakes, cherries, Medjool dates, etc.
Great for adding that little extra something to baking and it adds a little extra nutrition to the cookies.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For cold dishes. Once Olive Oil is heated, it loses the beneficial affect of polyphenols-an antioxidant.
For general cooking; lower in saturated fat.
Good red wine and balsamic vinegars. Also rice and apple cider vinegars
To make the vinaigrette, of course
Good quality low sodium soy sauce
For marinades; dashes of flavor
All natural peanut butter
Should be an ingredient list of one.
Vegetable or Chicken stock-low sodium
Always handy to have in the cupboard
Essentials of a Healthy Refrigerator
Why or comment
1% or less Milk or Unsweetened Soy Milk
Rice, Almond and Coconut milk also OK if one cannot tolerate Milk or Soy but they are lower in protein.
Whatever is in season. Some may not be fridge (on counter ripening). Key is to have fruits and vegetables at eye level.
Fresh Vegetables: Whatever is in season. Always keep on hand carrots, celery, onions, and parsley
For quick snacks: baby carrots, red/yellow/orange pepper. In season, sugar snap peas.
Pre-washed, organic spinach and baby salad mixes
Seasonal vegetables- best tasting, best prices
Carrots, celery, onions, parsley- because they go in everything and make everything taste better (of course they also add some vitamins and phytonutrients too!)
Baby carrots and sweet peppers and seasonally sugar snap peas are delicious, quick and healthy snack ideas. Paired with hummus, they meet the need for a healthy and satisfying snack.
Salads mixes-These mixes are now affordable and make eating a salad a meal that much easier.
Non-fat Greek yogurt
Versatile: can be used as sour cream replacement, breakfast food with fruit and fiber (and honey-yum), or for additional protein in smoothies
Strong Cheeses: Feta, Parmesan blue or goat
Adds wonderful flavor to salads and sides. A little goes a long way
Homemade is best. Tasty for snacks or as a sandwich spread
Whole wheat wraps
An alternative to bread for wraps or Mexican inspired dinners
Homemade best option. Adds flavor to soups, pasta or grain dishes, wonderful on sandwiches
We are bombarded with cries to try this diet, avoid that food or go on a 30-day food program all in the promise to bring us closer to a healthier self.
Excellent nutrition comes from cooking and eating as great a variety as possible; foods that are seasonally active, and which come from as close to your locale as possible. By eating seasonally we tend to get foods with greater flavor, and securing them from a local source the foods get to develop longer on the stem becoming even more nutritionally dynamic. There is also an emotional element that comes into play when you eat seasonally, and that is the excitement of a bourgeoning season – there is no better moment then the first asparagus of the season – after its long absence, its pleasure seems intensified as it is welcomed back to the table.
But let’s be practical, most of us cannot cook in such a militant manner, and while it is an honorable mantra to embrace we still need to deal with our daily feedings in the midst of life’s daily requirements. Weekly, expand your repertoire to include a greater variety of foods that are based on true foods. Cast away the foods bought with an ingredient list that goes upon a list 4 to 5 ingredients, and definitely with list with words more suited for a chemistry class. Eat foods that you can make a direct link to the earth that originally brought it forth. A jar of peanut butter should have an ingredient list of one!
It is paramount we consume more beans and whole grains beyond rice, delivering a greater variety of nutrients, fiber and amino acids; our building blocks for protein. Make regular jaunts through your local farmer’s markets – see what is in season in an area, and you’ll be moving at the same time. For the other key element to a healthful-self is keep on moving: be it at a gym, gardening, walking to the next train stop or parking in the farthest section of the parking lot, we feed both our souls and our bodies with every forkful.