A few weeks ago I did a quick Top 10 list of things to take out of your pantry. I know, some were a little frightened of this list, especially if you’re currently eating a lot of processed foods, sugar and flour. By no means am I trying to frighten or make you feel like you can have nothing, that was not my intention at all. Living a healthy lifestyle is really about you choosing what to take out and when. For me, in the beginning I did eat almond/rice crackers or Ezekiel bread. I had to phase into things a bit. For others, just ripping off the band-aid is the way to go. They can take everything out and replace it with the good and that’s that! Whichever your path is, TAKE IT! You will look and feel better and have tons of energy.
So today, I’ll share the Top 10 things to keep in your pantry. Having a stocked pantry is critical to keeping a healthy lifestyle. Yes, cleaning out of all the over-processed foods is the first step. But now that you have tossed out the bad, what do you replace it with? Keeping the following items in your pantry will support you either whether you’re transitioning or sustaining. I typically buy these items in bulk at Costco or Sprouts since I can find either organic or top quality in either. (Keep in mind that many of these items can be stored in the freezer if you’re concerned with things going rancid.)
- Almonds. These nuts are at the top of the nut food chain. They are packed with nutrients and vitamins such as: calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6 and are rich in dietary fiber. One kernel is about 7 calories and can be found raw, blanched, roasted, sliced, slivered, salted…the list is endless. I recommend keeping raw almonds in your house and staying away from anything with added salt or sugar. Eat a few of before a quick work out or when you’re hungry and want something crunchy. Add them to homemade breads or make your own almond milk. Almonds are a must in any healthful household!
- Chia Seeds. Cha Cha Chia! Who knew I’d grow up and eat chia! I love chia seeds. I eat them raw on top of yogurt or in chia puddings. I put them in my smoothies and mix them into homemade energy bars. They are so versatile. These tiny little seeds are packed with the good stuff. One serving gives more than half the recommended daily dose of the B vitamin thiamine and niacin. In addition they’re a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
- Olive Oil. Once upon a time we were told fat was bad, but that was a lie. We now know that GOOD FATS are just that….GOOD. And a tablespoon of olive oil has a heaping 73g of monounsaturated fat and 11g of polyunsaturated fat. Take that canola oil!!! Olive Oil also has vitamin E and K. It’s easy to cook, BBQ and bake with. And salad dressings – I don’t use without! I tend to buy Extra Virgin Olive Oil as it’s fuller in flavor.
- Balsamic Vinegar. This is an odd choice, I know. But when you’re eliminating sugar at first you’ll feel a little deprived and adjusting to foods being less sugary. Balsamic vinegar is FULL of flavor and you can condense this down into a sugar-free glaze. It’s a great condiment to have in the house to add to marinades, salad dressings and even desserts.
- Cocoa. My true love, chocolate (don’t tell my husband!). Cocoa is an understated ingredient and has tons of nutrition. Its solids are one of the richest sources of flavanol antioxidants. Who knew? That’s why I love it so much. It’s good for me and it’s delicious – AWESOME! Cocoa powder is everywhere right now. One thing to make certain when selecting a brand it to get one that is unsweetened. That’s super important. Use cocoa in smoothies, in hot chocolate with some almond milk and teaspoon of honey, or in homemade popsicles.
- Quinoa. I must admit, I got on the quinoa bandwagon a little late in life! But, now that I’ve found it, I love it. There is still a lot of controversy on if it’s a seed or grain. Wikipedia says: Quinoa (/ˈkiːˈnoʊə/, from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa ) is a species of the goosefoot genus (Chenopodium quinoa), a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Okay, so then it’s both? Either way, I enjoy it. It can be ground into flour, used in ‘rice pudding’ or put on any salad. Think of it as a replacement for oats, pasta or rice. I make an amazing Greek Salad with it. Make sure to get a good quality brand and one that has gone through a rinsing process so you don’t get any stones!
- Oats. I’ve been eating oats since I was a kid. This is one of the best items to have in your pantry, especially if you’re trying to stay full longer. It’s packed with soluble fiber, which takes significant time to digest therefore suppressing your appetite. In addition, oats have been known to lower your cholesterol if eaten daily. Well, that’s a one-two punch, if you ask me. Oats can be ground into flour, added into your overnight oats and can even bulk up your hamburgers or meat loaf. I do believe too much of a good thing, can be just too much. So, if you’re eating grains, like oats and quinoa, limit to one meal per day.
- Raw Honey. Nature’s candy and a must in everyone’s pantry, honey can be used for so many things from soothing a sore throat to sweetening up a smoothie. I suggest a raw type, organic if you can. It’s the closest thing to a beehive as you’ll get and the least processed. Honey does have a good amount of carbs, so use sparingly.
- Almond Butter. We are back to almonds again; they are that important to a healthy lifestyle. What’s great about almond butter is its naturally salty and sweet taste all in one. It’s great in anything from homemade ice-cream to something simple like ants on a log (remember those???). Just like almonds, almond butter is full of nutrients and vitamins. Read the labels when purchasing. Look for almond butters that contain almonds only. You don’t need oil or salt in this delicious spread.
- Unsweetened Coconut Chips. Coconut has taken off within the last few years. Everything from coconut oil to coconut water. It’s everywhere and in everything. I even got some make-up with coconut water in it!!! Coconut is rich in copper, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. Having coconut chips in the house is great for when you need that extra crunch. I typically add it to my puddings, overnight oats or granola. Again, look for the unsweetened types. I like the chips versus the shreds due to the texture.
There you have it: 10 items to add/keep in your pantry to support you in a healthful lifestyle.