Many of you have requested information on what to stock in your pantry. These bare basics will be the workhorses of your cooking and delicious eating. Plus being prepared with your favorite healthy and delicious food items will keep you consistent with your health goals.
Before we begin, let's start with a kitchen makeover. Let's get out the bad so you can make room for the good (even though I don't like to label foods good or bad - it works here). Then literally clean out your pantry and start with some nice shelving or contact paper.
1. Buy in Bulk
This is more affordable and you can store your frequently used items in air-tight containers which will keep them optimally fresh.
As part of my batch cooking, I will make a pot of "grain" for the week. It rotates between wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, barley, farro etc..
I change it out depending on mood and partly what my family request. One of my boys loves rice while the other prefers farro (who knew?!). Find your grain of choice just make it whole.
Where do I begin with nuts?! We have at all times: almonds (sliced and whole), cashews (raw and roasted - I like raw to make cashew cheese, more on this later), pistachios, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds. I throw seeds into everything possible from smoothies, salads, oatmeal and/or pancakes....the list goes on. Seeds can be toasted, sauteed, or eaten raw. My youngest son would walk around with a bag of cashews all day long if he could...
Quick Caveat - peanuts can become susceptible to mold and fungus. I recommend eating these roasted, NOT raw.
Store these in air-tight containers either glass or BPA free plastic. Another part of my batch cooking includes making a pot of beans for the week. Lentils are great for week night cooking because they can be cooked in about 20 - 30 minutes. There are green lentils, orange lentils, beluga lentils. Take your pick and add them to soups, salads...I also enjoy them tossed with fish or roasted beets.
5. Nut/Seed Butters
There are some delicious nut butters. My favorites are almond and cashew butter. I love to make cashew cheese out of raw cashews - See my recipe for classic cashew cheese. With their healthy dose of good for your fats, protien, and mineral content, nut and seed butter uses are endless. Besides spreading on toast/bread, they can be added to dressing, and/or smoothies....or paired with fruit or veggies. I use them for my date protein balls. We won't forget about sesame seed butter a.k.a TAHINI. See my post here for Orange + Tahini dressing with the Love-Your-Heart Bowl.
6. Nut/Seeds Milk
For those who do not drink dairy (and for those that do) the variety of nut milks is vast. I have found I like to have several types in the fridge. We drink almond, hemp, flax, cashew and/or pistachio. We have a variety of both plain and flavored. Making your own nut milk is delicious and a cinch. Just remember to soak your nuts overnight to help making the milk creamier and therefore easier to strain.
7. Fermented/pickled foods
I can literally eat kimchi out of the jar. I love it! Fermented foods like kraut, kimchi, miso, and kefir give your body a dose of good probiotics. Hello happy gut - no bloat here!
If you read my recent post on pickled foods, I love anything pickled. Doux South gives great recommendations on how to enjoy pickled foods. Yum!
This seems obvious but this should also be part of your basics. Frozen is absolutely fine! In fact, frozen vegetabes retain their nutritional value because they are picked at their peak and frozen. We always have mangoes in our freezer - perfect for making smoothies. Or you can freeze your own - try frozen grapes!
9. Canned Fish
For some of you this might be off-putting especially for those who do not eat fish (or any animal product). However, sustainably caught salmon, sardines, and anchovies (I prefer white) are an excellent way to add protein and give you a healthy dose of fats. Plus, anchovies and sardines give you 350 mg calcium/per serving which is 35% of your daily needs. I prefer to purchase Wild Planet - they use sustainable fishing method that are pole & line caught.
10. Nutritional Yeast AKA "Nooch"
You may be thinking what is Nooch?! It is nutritional yeast and not to be confused with brewer's yeast. It is an excellent source of B12 and can be sprinkled into everything - salads, smoothies, popcorn. It gives a nice cheesy flavor minus dairy. For those wanting to adopt a plant-friendly liefstyle or eat less dairy, add Nooch to your repertoire.
11. Natural Sweeteners
Dates, maple syrup, and sustainably harvested honey (our bee population is in trouble -let's get it local and consciously harvested). Let these guys give you the sweet stuff.
Plus, for those that have seasonal allergies, a tablespoon of local honey a day can help minimize your symptoms.
Olive oil, hemp oil, grape seed, and coconut oil - good fats! Coconut oil and grape seed oil have a high smoke point, so these are great for saute, baking and/or roasting. Olive and hemp oil are better for salad dressings.
We always have lemons and/or limes for adding to dishes. Also, apple cider vinegar is great in dressings or in saute.
14. Secret Spices
So many, but focus on high quality ones such as tumeric, ginger (ground and whole root), sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean (or extract). You probably have your go-to spices. Please share!
15. Herbal Teas
I love my tea ritual any time of day. It is an opportunity to engage all of our senses. I buy a variety of loose tea. My favorites are lavender, chamomile, any green tea, honey bush, rooibos, white tea and matcha. I love the routine of heating up the water and holding the warm mug in my hand. Come summer time - I will put my tea on ice. Still lovely!
These are just the basics and I am sure you have your basics too. If you start with these and then build in more interesting ones such as cacoa nibs and Spirulina (I am working on some great recipes to share with you) you are on your way to eating more wholly and healthfully. You may download your whole foods pantry guide here.