People ask me this question all the time: “what are the ten essential ingredients for a healthy pantry?”
In my view, there’s a lot more than ten things, but let’s start with my top ten and you can build on it as you feel better, cook more and life a healthier life.
Nuts to You
Stock up on healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios. Smart snacking on these nutrient-dense babies keeps hunger pangs at bay and offers a boatload of heart-health benefits. Choose the unsalted versions of nuts. You can always add a wee bit of salt, but at least you’re in charge of how much salt you consume.
The Whole Truth
Brown rice, barley, millet, oats, quinoa and farro are just some of the whole grains that should grace your pantry. These complex carbohydrates provide you with long-simmering fuel for the day, banishing blood sugar highs and lows as well as cravings. One to two servings a day of whole grains changes the game…and how well you play it.
Beans…Real Protein for Real People
Lentils, chickpeas, white navy, cannellini, azuki, split peas and black beans are among the many beans available to keep us big and strong. Great sources of fiber and protein, beans are some of the most satisfying foods. Used in soups, casseroles, salads or stews, beans are versatile, easy to cook and add variety…and fortitude to our plant-based lives.
Berry Delicious Berries
Rich in antioxidants, yummy berries are among the best of choices when it comes to heart-healthy fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and in particular, raspberries are great ways to treat your body, skin and hair to the best care...deliciously.
Chew on Chocolate
Hold on…before you grab that Snickers bar from the desk drawer…breathe and read on. Extra dark chocolate with at least 70-85% cocoa content is jam packed with antioxidants… like double those in red wine and five times more than green tea. But remember to be as kind to the planet as to your body. Choose Fair Trade and organic chocolate when and where you can to ensure the producers are paid a fair wage and can sustain their communities as they work to feed our indulgence. (I’m a particular fan of Lily’s Sweets Chocolate. Check them out.)
These tiny seeds are an excellent source of omega 3s. They also aid in helping reduce cholesterol levels and help to naturally unclog your arteries of plaque buildup. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, these ancient seeds are hydrophilic, holding ten times their weight in water so they help us stay hydrated…and we all know how gorgeous that looks on us.
It’s Easy Being Green
A healthy kitchen has a refrigerator filled with green vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, collards, watercress, escarole, arugula, endive and spinach. These gorgeous leaves are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that work hard to keep us looking as great as we feel.
Get Sweet on Veggies
Sweet veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots and parsnips are rich in vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, and calcium. The health benefits of these yummy versatile must-have pantry staples are nearly endless…from fiber for smooth digestion to carotenoids for wellness; from helping reduce blood pressure to balancing blood sugar, these veggies are key to great health.
Oh, boy…another food added to the “super food” list, right? Well there’s a good reason to elevate avocados to the status of “super.” Their naturally good fats can help lower cholesterol levels and provide benefits to your health when consumed in moderation. But take care with these yummy treats. They’re super high in calories, too.
Like an Extra Virgin
I adore extra virgin olive oil and could wax poetic for hours. Like avocados, olive oil is incredibly high in monounsaturated fats, healthy fats. Its rich concentration of antioxidants can help unclog arteries and reduce inflammation in the body. In the Mediterranean, extra virgin olive oil is considered “liquid gold” and once you understand its gorgeous benefit to wellness, you’ll see why.
See how easy it is to begin to build out a healthy kitchen???