How healthy is your pantry? Do you think it may be in a need of a “nutrition makeover”? Read this guest blog post by dietitian Nour El-Zibdeh, RD and be sure to visit her website AFTER you leave a comment about your favorite pantry must-haves and why.
Raw Nuts and Nut Butters
- Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, protein, and poly- and mono- unsaturated (good) fats. Buy raw to keep salt intake in check and eat as a snack or on top of salads or cereals. Nut butters make a perfect breakfast or lunch sandwich. Buy a 100% nut butter, without salt, sugar, or extra oils and ingredients. Nuts are calorie-dense; eat no more than 1 ounce fresh, or 2 tablespoons nut butter, a day.
Whole Grain Pasta
While pasta suffers from the misleading bad rep of carbs, whole-wheat pasta has a place in healthy pantries. One cup is an excellent source of fiber, manganese and selenium, and a good source of protein, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
- When you’re out of fresh fruit and can’t make a grocery run, dried fruits are heroes. Eat as a snack, or with salads and cereals. Because they have concentrated natural sugar, stick to sensible portions. A serving of dried fruit is one-fourth of a cup.
Canned Tuna in Water
- An excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium, canned tuna is ready to eat. Make it into a salad or sandwich for a last-minute meal helper. Skip the mayo, and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and Italian seasonings.
Beans and Lentils
They are an inexpensive excellent source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins. Buy “no-salt-added” canned beans or rinse thoroughly in water. Use instead of meat for Mexican dishes, in salad, stews, soups, and appetizers. Dry lentils are easy to prepare-just simmer for 15 minutes. Use in soups and stews. When making rice, substitute half the amount with lentils for more fiber and protein.
Instant Brown Rice
- Instant brown rice is a quick source of whole grains. Toss with frozen veggies, cut-up pieces of chicken, fish, lean meat, or tofu, and you a have a 30-minute rice skillet dish for dinner. Also serve with stir-fries and curries.
Whole Grain Cereal
- No pantry is devoid of cereal so make yours whole. Look for the word “whole grain” in the first ingredient. For a better cereal, sugar should not be among the first three. Buy plain oatmeal and mix it with dried fruits and nuts.
- For your sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a dessert rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant capacity. Buy small, individually wrapped pieces to help with portion control. It still has calories.
- Drinking soup before meals makes you feel full, eat less, and consequently helps with weight loss. You can also pair it up with a sandwich for quick meal. Choose no-salt-added, broth-based, vegetable-rich soups.
Canned Diced or Crushed Tomato
- Processed tomato products have lycopene, which helps lower prostate cancer risk. Use for pasta sauce, stews, chili, or fajitas. Drain diced tomatoes from juice and add to chicken or fish when baking. Mix with steamed vegetables, such as green beans, asparagus, or broccoli.
- It’s one of the most versatile and flavorful oils. This monounsaturated-fats-rich oil can be used for marinating and saut