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Healthy Habit: How to Stock a Great Pantry

Jan 13, 2011
What you keep in your kitchen has a direct effect on what you put in your mouth.  The types of foods that you buy to stash in your cupboards can determine whether you eat a bag of potato chips or enjoy and apple with cashew butter when in the mood for a snack.

Stocking your home with high-calorie, low-nutrient foods that for many people are difficult to consume in moderation can have devastating effects on your health and waistline.  It is necessary to have the right foods in your pantry with which to make quick, simple, and healthy meals. 

Below is a list of nutritious staples to fill your shelves with:
•    Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, wild rice, teff, buckwheat, whole wheat pasta, etc)
•    Popcorn (kernels to air pop or no oil added microwave)
•    Baked corn chips
•    Canned beans and lentils
•    Peanut butter and other nut butters
•    Tahini (great for making hummus or dressings)
•    Pasta sauces and canned tomatoes
•    Salsa
•    Canned tomatoes
•    Low-sodium soups
•    Non-dairy milks
•    Cans of coconut milk
•    Dried fruits
•    Nuts (store in fridge for maximum freshness)
•    Sea vegetables
•    Vinegars (raw apple cider, balsamic, fruit)
•    Spices
•    Vegetable bouillon
•    Bottled sauces (with little to no oil)
•    Teas, yerba mate, coffee
•    Dark chocolate (for a treat!  70% cocoa or higher)

Now that you've got your pantry staples, here are a few ideas for quick meals to create:  
•    Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce and your choice of vegetables
•    Stir fried veggies served over brown rice or quinoa
•    Baked sweet potato with black beans and tahini-miso sauce
•    Homemade chili
•    Lentils cooked in a coconut curry
•    Homemade sushi (use brown rice)
•    Baked corn chips with salsa and guacamole
•    Date-nut balls (puree equal amounts of each in a food processor- add cocoa powder if desired)

Go through your cupboards and get rid of the following products (look at ingredient lists for these):
•    White flour (check pastas, crackers, cookies, breads)
•    White sugar
•    White rice
•    Hydrogenated oils
•    Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
•    Artificial sweeteners
•    Oils (small amounts of extra virgin olive oil can be okay, however if you are trying to lose weight oils should be one of the first items to stop using)
 
It is not like you can never have some of your beloved (less-healthy) foods...but when they are not conveniently located in your house you will be much less likely to eat them.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Instead, fill your house with more wholesome options and before you know it these will become your new favorites.

Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best. For more information, please visit her website at RI Nutrition Housecalls.com.

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