Just like we wonder what books an author is reading, or the restaurants in which chef’s dine, people often ask me what I eat and what I keep in my pantry. Here are the top 10 items that you can always find in my pantry.
1. Organic chicken or vegetable stock.
Low in fat and high in flavor, chicken or vegetable stock is great for sauteing vegetables as well as cooking rice, quinoa, and cauliflower rice.
Dijon mustard and aged balsamic vinegar are ideal bases for simple, flavorful, and healthy salad dressings, sauces, and sandwich toppers. Skip the unhealthy dressings that are high in sodium and calories and contain added sugars and dyes.
Lentils are delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare. They cook fast, are an amazing source of vegetarian and vegan protein, and they add essential flavor and texture to salads. Another great source of vegetarian and vegan protein, black beans are so versatile. I use them to create salads, soups, vegetarian chili, healthy nachos, black bean brownies, and more.
4. Olive oil
Olive oil is essential for cooking, and both plain and flavored olive oils are a key ingredient in healthy dressings and sauces.
5. Dried herbs and spices
Healthy eating is not synonymous with bland and tasteless. Cooking with herbs like thyme and oregano provide delicious flavor to roasted vegetables. Cumin is an essential spice in mexican, middle eastern and indian cuisines. Cinnamon is a great addition to oatmeal and yogurt.
6. Italian tuna in olive oil
When tuna packed in olive oil seals in the flavor and provides essential Omega-3 oils. Add tuna to salads, sandwiches, or pasta.
7. Whole grains
Quinoa is a gluten free grain that is a great source of vegetarian and vegan protein. This is another versatile food that mixes well with a variety of ingredients. It is also perfect for salads. A healthy and easy breakfast essential, steel cut oats are packed with nutrients and an excellent source of fiber. Perfect for making overnight oats or classic hot oatmeal. Bulgur is a delicious middle eastern grain used in tabbouleh and cooks quickly!
8. Nuts and seeds
Walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pepita seeds are full of nutritional benefits and add essential flavor and texture to salads and stir frys. They also make for a healthy, satiating snack. Another breakfast essential for me, I use unsweetened nut and seed butters like almond butter or tahini to top oatmeal, toast, and plain yogurt, adding flavor and protein.
9. Canned/boxed/jarred tomatoes
Pasta sauces, soups, chilis, stir fry, pizza; peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce are healthy flavor boosters for a variety of easy, go-to meals.
10. Whole grain/seed crackers
Skip processed chips and crackers and instead try whole grain or seed crackers topped with hummus, guacamole, or yogurt dip. It offers the crunch we all crave while providing a sustainable, satisfying, and healthy snack to get you through the afternoon slump.
By keeping these essentials in your pantry, you’re setting a solid foundation for creating healthy meals and snacks. Mix and match these ingredients to create new dishes, or add them to your existing recipes for a healthier take.
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