RD Holly Stevens helps us stay healthy this holiday season with tips on how to build a healthier pantry!
Building and sustaining a nutrient packed pantry is key to living a healthy lifestyle. First, a pantry should have food that can be made in to at least a couple of meals. That way if there is no time to go grocery shopping for a couple days, ordering take out can be avoided, which can sometimes lead to overindulging and unplanned expensive. Also, a pantry should have healthy and satisfying snacks, because when the munchies strike (and they sometimes will), options should be available!
Now I have learned that my 1-bedroom, urban apartment is not going to have the same available space as my mom’s pantry does, but I make it work, and I know you can too! The items below can ALWAYS be found in my kitchen.
Chia seeds: By far my favorite food right now. I do not use granola on yogurt anymore because these little guys are so much better! In just 1 tablespoon, there’s a whopping 4 grams of fiber and tons of nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory), iron, calcium and zinc. Chia seeds have also been shown to improve gut health and function.
Frozen vegetables: Green beans, broccoli, stir-fry blend, any and all of these vegetables are great to have in the freezer. Purchase the steam ready bags if desired. Avoid frozen vegetables with sauce. This added sauce is usually high in sodium and processed ingredients, not to mention unwanted calories on delicious, nutrient-dense vegetables. Fun fact: frozen vegetables are typically more nutrient dense than raw, grocery store bought, produce because these vegetables are flash frozen soon after harvest. Raw produce typically travels hundreds of miles to get to your local grocery store and the more time that passes the more nutrients that are lost.
Pizza dough: Best for the Friday or Saturday nights that you want pizza, but you may not want all the calories, grease and saturated fat that comes along with restaurant bought pizza. Plus, it is super fun to make your own pizza! Fresh pizza dough can be bought at the grocery store and put in the freezer for future meals. Wegmans, Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell whole- wheat pizza dough for under $4 dollars.
Popcorn: Whole grain snack packed with fiber. I have an electric popcorn maker that pops delicious, crunchy popcorn, without the oil and preservatives found in packaged, microwave popcorn. Plus, you can get a bag of popcorn kernels for less than $2. Add different herbs and spices to flavor your popcorn! Think garlic or cumin!
Frozen fruit: Buy already frozen or freeze your own fruit. I will freeze bananas if they start to get ripe and I know we won’t eat all of them. Frozen fruit can be defrosted and put in yogurt, or put in a smoothie. Tip: When freezing bananas take off peel prior to freezing.
Quinoa: Protein, fiber, magnesium, folate and zinc are just a few of the nutrients found in quinoa. This ancient grain can be cooked in less than 20 minute. Mix quinoa in stir fry or use to stuff peppers or portabella mushrooms.
Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, make sure to keep at least one can in your pantry at all times. Beans can be added to salads, frittatas, stir fry, casseroles and can be used to stuff peppers or portabella mushrooms. Make sure to rinse beans thoroughly prior to use.
Almond (or any nut) butter: Almonds are more nutrient dense than peanuts, thus almond butter is a better choice than peanut butter. Almond butter has fiber, monounsaturated fats, iron and magnesium. Almond butter is considered nutrient-dense, meaning that the serving size is small, ~2 tablespoons. If you don’t know how much that is, I suggest measuring it out to avoid over consuming.
Canned tuna: Great source of protein that can be mixed with Greek yogurt and/or Dijon mustard then mixed in with a salad or rolled up in a whole wheat wrap. This shelf stable protein is great to have in the pantry when you need a quick, healthy meal.
Rice cakes: When the munchies or your sweet tooth strikes, turn to a rice cake. Find a brand of rice cakes that has fiber, to help you feel fuller longer. My favorite treat is a rice cake topped with almond butter and sometimes a few chocolate chips.
What do you think about these pantry staples? What is a MUST in your pantry? Share your thoughts below or message me if you want any tips on how to stock your pantry!
And always remember that planning yields success!
Check out Holly's website and the original post: Guide to Building a Healthy Pantry