Healthy Pantry Staples: What Should I Keep in the Cupboard?
Having a pantry full of healthy ingredients makes it much easier to make healthier meals at home. In this week’s blog post, we are going to give you the low-down on what foods you should keep on hand at all times to set yourself up for success. We will also discuss which foods you can swap out for a healthier alternative to achieve your goals.
Who doesn’t love a good bowl of pasta? For many of us, pasta is a weekly staple because it’s quick, easy, and versatile. When choosing which type of pasta to stock up on, try reaching for a pasta made from whole grains or legumes (i.e. chickpea pasta or lentil pasta)! Whole grain and legume-based pastas are higher in nutrients than your traditional white pasta. These types of pastas are packed with protein, fibre, and iron! Traditional white pastas are more refined (meaning they go through more processing), which in turn strips their nutrients. What is the benefit of consuming a pasta with additional fibre, protein, and iron? You’ll feel full longer! The additional fibre and nutrients in whole grain and legume-based pastas will provide you with a stable source of energy (no crash in your blood sugar levels shortly after eating), they leave you satisfied longer so you will snack less between meals, and as we mentioned before, they provide many other nutritional benefits! Stock up on some nutrient dense dry pasta for when you’re craving a hearty bowl of spaghetti! Dry pasta can be stored in its original package for over a year after purchasing. Here are some staples you might want to have on hand:
- Whole grain or wheat pasta packed with fiber and protein!
- Chickpea pasta a gluten-free, plant protein favourite!
- Lentil pasta also gluten-free, packed with plant protein, iron and fibre!
- Soba Noodles made from buckwheat, but gluten-free and whole grain!
- Quinoa Pasta another gluten free, plant-protein packed pasta!
Did you know that whole grains are a great source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and that they are a key component of a healthy diet? Whole grains such as large flake oats, quinoa, and brown rice are great items to have on hand and incorporate into your everyday diet. Boost your whole grain intake with a warm bowl of oatmeal or try out a cold quinoa salad recipe to bring for your lunch! The next time you’re at the grocery store, stock up on one or more of the following grain products and reap the benefits.
- Whole grain rice / long-grain brown / basmati rice
Beans & legumes
Beans, lentils and legumes are an important part of the diet because they’re packed with fibre, great for digestion, heart health, are a plant-based source of protein, and will leave you feeling full! There are many ways to easily integrate beans, lentils, and legumes into your diet like adding black beans to your meat for tacos, adding chickpeas to salads, making a cold Mexican bean salad recipe for your next get together, or even making some Black Bean Brownies! The most economical way to purchase beans and legumes is to buy dry beans from the bulk food store and store them in airtight containers for up to two years. After two years, they begin to lose vitamin content. If you’re not interested in dry beans, canned beans are just as great. Always keep in mind that canned items usually have added sodium, so try to choose the “no sodium added” versions to avoid additional salt intake. Here are a few of our favourite beans & legumes to add to your grocery list:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Lentils (red, green, brown)
When kickstarting a healthy diet, you may feel the need to completely cut out baked goods, but you don’t have to! There’s plenty of healthy recipes out there so that you can still enjoy baked goods while leading a healthy lifestyle. For example, instead of white or brown sugar, try sweetening your baked goods with some of the options below. You can also swap out white, bleached flours, for less processed flours that offer more nutrients and fibre. A few of our favourite recipes include Banana Cookies, Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, and Oatmeal Breakfast Bars! We’ve listed a few common ingredients found in recipes for healthier baked goods below:
- Maple syrup
- Almond flour
- Brown rice flour
- Chickpea flour
- Oat flour
- Whole wheat flour
Nuts & Dried Fruit
Looking for a quick and easy way to add protein and healthy fats to your meal? Stock up on some of these nuts and seeds! It’s easy to add a handful of any of these options into your oatmeal in the morning, on top of your mid-day salad, into your stir-fry at dinner, or just grab a handful of nuts and fruit for a quick snack on the go! Making your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit is a great snack that is packed with healthy fats, protein, and fibre to give you an afternoon energy boost! A few examples include:
- Pine nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Dried apricots
Eating a healthy diet is easier than you think when your pantry is full of healthy ingredients! Start by picking up a healthier version of your staple ingredients as they run out, and eventually, you will have a variety of healthy staples! Stay tuned for the next blog in the series: Healthy Fridge Staples: What Should I Keep in the Fridge?
14 Healthy Whole-Grain Foods (Including Gluten-Free Options). (2018, July 14). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whole-grain-foods
March 12, U. & 2020. (n.d.). Your Grocery List for a Perfect Pantry. Martha Stewart. Retrieved April 9, 2022, from https://www.marthastewart.com/1112123/your-grocery-list-perfect-pantry-and-how-keep-it-perpetually-stocked
Seaver, D. V., M.S., & RD. (n.d.). 6 Healthy Noodles You Should Be Eating, According to a Dietitian. EatingWell. Retrieved April 9, 2022, from https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7885314/healthy-noodles-you-should-be-eating-according-to-a-dietitian/
Your Vegan Grocery List: Plant-Based Fridge & Pantry Staples. (2016, March 3). Forks Over Knives. https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/plant-based-pantry/