Thursday, 20 April 2017

5 items every pantry needs





After weeks of emptying my pantry of all grains and legumes in preparation for Pesach/Passover when these foods can’t be eaten, it’s finally time to restock! Spring is typically a time for renewal and getting back to nature, and it’s a great time to do the same with our eating - return to natural ingredients that are good for us, taste good and are easy to prepare!

Here are my top five foods for healthy eating to never run out of. Agree? Disagree? Is your top food missing from this list? Comment below J



1.     Canned and/or dried pulses (dry peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas)

2016 was the year of pulses, and I really got into them! Roasted chickpeas for snack, pureed lentils for pasta sauce, side dishes, mains… they work everywhere! They’re a great source of protein, iron, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Pulses have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help with weight loss. They’re also economical and so user friendly; dry pulses can stay in your pantry for a year (even longer, if you have the time to soak ‘em longer). Canned pulses are even more convenient- just open the can, rinse (you can remove 40-50% of the sodium this way), and use. They are shelf stable for several years, and so filling!

*quick tip* use unsalted water when cooking pulses as salt toughens them when cooking

2.   Eggs

Eggs are another nutrient powerhouse; low in calories, a very good source of vitamins B, A and D, some hard to get minerals such as selenium and iodine; high quality protein; and omega 3 fatty acids.

Eggs are economical, and make a quick and filling meal. Easily whip up some scrambled eggs or bake a vegetable frittata. Eggs are kid friendly and easily transportable as a hard-boiled egg or baked in muffin tins.  



3.   Whole grains (barley, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, brown rice)

Whole grains provide fibre and minerals, lower the risk of diabetes (or help control blood sugar), and keep us full! Whole grains can also lower cholesterol levels, prevent against certain cancers, protect the heart… the benefits are vast, so make sure to include whole grains in every meal!

They’re easy to prepare, (check out this site for cooking times) and stay fresh in the fridge 3-4 days.

Swap whole grains for their white counterparts (such as serving brown rice instead of white rice); add into stews and soups; serve as a side dish or add to a salad.



4.   Canned fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)

Fish in general is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Salmon and sardines, as fatty fish, are also high in omega 3 fatty acids (benefitting the brain, and providing anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits). Canned fish is shelf stable, economical, and all edible-so you can even eat the bones and skin.

Chose fish canned in water (vs. oil), make sure it’s within its expiration date, and has no dents in the can. Use canned fish in loaves or patties (similar to a meat loaf or meatballs); casseroles; add to salads; or eat straight from the can!



5.   Canned or frozen vegetables

Packaged at peak freshness, canned and frozen veggies maintain their nutrients while lasting longer. So you can always have them on-hand for last minute supper emergencies. Easy for little kids to eat (and a fun new texture!), serve canned corn, carrots, wax beans etc. as an appetizer or in a salad; roast or stir-fry frozen broccoli, green beans, carrots or any other favorite vegetable. Look for frozen vegetables that aren’t breaded or battered, and canned vegetables without added sugar and low sodium.