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HEALTHY PANTRY SECRETS

MAGGIE O'MEARA

Being prepared with healthy food in your pantry makes eating a nutritious and balanced much easier. Having the basics right at home in your kitchen means that you can whip up a quick meal or snack that is tasty, easy to make, and less expensive than going out to eat. This also allows for you to know exactly what ingredients are in your food and therefore enables you to eat healthier. But it all starts with stocking your pantry with the right foods and nutrient-rich staples to have at all times. With a variety of these pantry essentials that you can pair with refrigerated or frozen items that’s on hand, a delicious and nutritious meal is right at your fingertips!

Pantries look different all around the world. However, they are all common in that they all focus on the culture’s staple foods so they can make a wide variety of different dishes to make for their friends of family. For example, in Thailand, the staple ingredient that is the center food of the meal is usually rice. The words “kin kao” is a familiar saying in Thailand to call others to dinner and actually means “eat rice”. Rice is the main meal and is usually just served along side dishes such as soups, curries, and stir-fries. Following Thailand’s ways in having staple foods to keep around to make healthy and balanced meals are a key element in overall health and wellness. This can also make cooking easier as well as creative using the healthy ingredients you already have.

Pantry Staples:

1) Canned Goods

Food that can be sold in cans such as tuna, beans, vegetables, stock, or diced tomatoes are super convenient. Not only do they have a long shelf life, but they also can be easily incorporated into meals. These goods are great for chilis, soups, salads, or grain bowls. Make sure to look for low sodium options!

2) Nuts and Seeds

These powerhouse foods have protein, healthy fats, flavor, and crunch to add to a lot of dishes. Almonds, peanuts, cashews, and walnuts are great whole as a snack or as nut butters. Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are perfect to top any meal you can think of such as salads, toast, or soups.

3) Whole Grains

Grains are the perfect addition to a meal that already includes a protein or a fat source. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that will give you long-lasting energy, as well as keep you full and satisfied throughout the day. Stocking the pantry with old fashioned oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta can allow you to make any kind of healthy meal!

Other Pantry Essentials:

  • Olive oil: for roasting, sautéing, and salad dressings
  • Balsamic vinegar: top salads, pizza, or bread, braise meats, and make marinades
  • Honey: drizzle on toast, top yogurt, use in baking, use in oatmeal
  • Spices: add flavor to meals to make them tasty! Good ones to keep on hand include: onion powder, oregano, bay leaves, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and chili powder.

 

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