One of the things I love doing with my local clients* is going through their pantry to see what they have. The conversation usually starts with the client saying something like, “You don’t want to see what I have.” as they are opening the door or cabinet. We laugh, and I reassure them that any recommendations I have will start with taking small steps.
Stocking your pantry with more whole foods takes a little time since most people want to finish what they have already purchased. I like this approach too, because it gives you a little time to get used to including your new ingredients into what you are already making, without feeling overwhelmed.
Beyond olive oil and brown rice (white rice not only raises your blood sugar levels quickly, it is stripped of 90% of its B vitamins, 60% of iron, and most of its fiber and essential fatty acids) there are lots of wonderful foods to keep on hand that are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
Following are some of my favorite things that you will find in my pantry, except for the nuts. I keep them in the fridge. Next week I’ll share more of what is in my pantry from healthy sweeteners to vinegars and spices so you too can have everything you need to create healthy meals…easily and quickly.
Beans and Lentils:
Beans and Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber. I tend to use canned beans and dried lentils. From a nutritional standpoint, the biggest difference between canned and dried beans is the added salt that is in most canned beans. Rinsing the beans will remove about 10% of the sodium or you can try EdenOrganic Beans (found in the organic section or most grocery stores) which contains kombu seaweed instead of salt. They also have BPA free cans.
Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein, making it an easy choice for meatless meals. Make sure you rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking as it contains saponin compounds that can have a soapy taste for some people.
Farro is considered an ancient grain and has a nutty flavor that is great when added to soups or as a side dish. Semi-pearled farro has had some of the fiber and B vitamins stripped during processing but it cooks much more quickly than whole farro. Honey Spiced Chicken with Cranberry Kale Farro
Organic Popcorn is an easy snack that only takes a moment longer to make than microwave popcorn and doesn’t have all the chemicals added to it. Put about 1 cup of popcorn in a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Dress your popcorn up with parmesan cheese or spices.
Wheatberries have a sweet nutty flavor (one of my favorites). It is the whole wheat kernel before it gets processed. Like other whole grains they contain a significant amount of B vitamins and many minerals that contribute to a healthier immune system and improved nervous system.
Millet: A gluten free grain, millet is thought to have originated from Africa. It is excellent when cooked like a fluffy rice or creamy like mashed potatoes. Millet is a good source of magnesium, which can contribute to a healthy heart and reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Pumpkins Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds add a kick to smoothies, salads or stir fry’s. Both Chia Seeds and Flax seeds are good sources of omega-3’s. Pumpkins seeds contain Zinc which can help boost your immune system and can kill parasites that may reside in the colon.
Mix almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios together for quick and easy protein packed energy snack. I prefer raw nuts as they are less likely to oxidize and the fats become rancid. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E and have a number of nutrients that beneficial for brain health, particularly in children.
Walnuts are a good source of plant based omega-3, are full of antioxidants and contain melatonin which can help you sleep better. Pistachios have a higher protein content than any other nut and the fats in pistachios can help eliminate dry skin.
Want to learn more about Emi? Check out her website Eat Well, Be Well.
*If you are not local to the Philly area but would like to make changes in what you eat, Skype and Facetime are great ways for us to meet.