9 Essentials EVERY Healthy Pantry Needs

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By Karen Azeez

It’s not always easy living a clean and healthy lifestyle.

Temptation is lurking everywhere: the candy in your office, the ice cream truck pacing around your block, well-meaning friends luring you out for beer and nachos when you know you should go home and sauté kale… But, at the same time, it can also seem so daunting to come home after a long day and prepare a tasty and nutritious meal – especially if you haven’t made it to the market in a while.

Having a well-stocked pantry is only half the battle. Just imagine opening your cabinet and finding (right at your fingertips) an arsenal of tasty – and shelf-stable – ingredients that can be made simply and quickly into a healthy dinner or satisfying snack. With a scenario like that, there would be no room for excuses.

And this scenario is possible.

The 9 items below can go a long way in satisfying your taste buds, hunger and nutritional needs and make living a healthier life much easier for you. Add them to your cart the next time you are out and give them a try

1. Grains: Try to stock a variety of whole grains, such as brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, oats, farro, millet, etc. Not only are they great as a side dish, you can toss them into soups and salads for a heartier meal, add them to a stir fry or create a unique risotto. And leftovers can be reheated with organic dairy or non-dairy milk as a yummy breakfast porridge.   

2. Beans: As a great source of fiber and protein, beans are easily stored and quick to prepare. From tacos and enchiladas to minestrone and salad, they instantly add depth, warmth and flavor. Cannellinis and chickpeas can be made into great dips and served with chicken kabobs or crudité. Spice up some black or kidney beans with hot sauce, garlic or herbs for an exciting and easy side dish.

3. Nuts: Stored in the freezer or in canning jars, nuts can last for several months. They are a wonderful source of healthy fat, protein and vitamin E. Make a pesto with pistachios, garlic and greens, toss walnuts in with whole grain pasta and broccoli for a quick and balanced meal, add pecans to a salad for crunch and flavor, or toast almonds in the oven to stir into grains.

4. Oils: A variety of healthy oils are not only good for your heart, but having them on hand means you always have the right tool for the job, whether it’s creating a delicious salad dressing, sautéing garlic or greens, roasting veggies or mixing up a pesto or sauce. Stock up on extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and sesame oil. Truffle oil, avocado oil, walnut oil are great to add a little zing to your recipes.

5. Dried Fruit: Fresh is always best, but dried fruit can give you the fiber and sweetness needed to punch up a salad or yogurt. Add some figs or dried cranberries to quinoa with some nuts and veggies and it makes a delicious meal, hot or cold. Dried mango or papaya is a great snack to pack in your car, purse or desk mixed with almonds. And dates make a fabulous truffle when mixed with cocoa powder and coconut flakes in a blender or food processor.

6. Nut Butters: When you’re absolutely too tired to cook, or when you need to pack a healthy lunch on the go, there’s nothing better than an almond butter and banana sandwich. Snacks that provide healthy fat and protein like peanut butter or cashew butter on carrot sticks keep you energized longer than chips, candy or a muffin. Nut butters can also be used in creating amazingly tasty sauces, or mixed in with a smoothie for a more filling meal.

7. Sea Vegetables: With 10-20 times the minerals of those found in land plants, kelp, dulse, arame and other sea veggies are an excellent source of iron, calcium and iodine and help detoxify the body. Soaked leaves can be added to salads, grains and soups. Seaweed snacks are a tasty and healthy way to get your salty munch fix.

8. Tea: Chugging plain water can get boring, so stock up on tea. Green, black, white and herbal varieties all boast of myriad health benefits. Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Teas can also be infused into desserts, like chia pudding, or be an antioxidant boost to smoothies.

9. Canned Fish: Canned/packaged salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and even anchovies provide an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, plus vitamin D. And, of course, they’re easy to prepare and serve. Chopped up in salads, spread on whole grain toast, or even tossed in with pasta and marinara sauce, these stepchildren of the fish world really deserve a second look.

Find your favorites, look for sales and stock up. This way you’ll eat healthy and save money.

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Karen Azeez
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Karen Azeez

Health Coach, Wellness Expert and Freelance Writer at Well Beings
Karen Azeez is a health coach, wellness expert and freelance writer. Karen helps busy men and women incorporate simple lifestyle changes into their daily routine to address issues such as weight gain, insomnia, stress and digestion problems. Karen enjoys cooking healthy meals, hiking with her husband and border collie and watching way too many TV shows about wedding dress shopping.
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