Christina's Pantry

In The Fridge

Arugula

This delicate green, in season in spring and fall, is slightly spicy and a rich source of protein, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin C, calcium, folate, magnesium, and potassium. It will keep for about a week in the fridge. Like other bitter greens, including escarole, watercress, dandelion and rabe, arugula is said to aid the liver in its work metabolizing fat and protein.

Basil

This summer herb can be found year-round, but is at its best in warm weather. In Italian folk medicine, basil was used as a blood purifier because of its rich combination of flavonoids that rid the blood of toxins. On top of that, basil contains compounds that make it antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Used in pesto, sauces, salads, and stir-fry dishes, basil should be stored with its stems in a glass of water in the fridge with a plastic bag loosely draped over it.

Belgian endive

A member of the chicory family this delicate vegetable can be eaten cooked or raw. Slightly bitter, endive is a rich source of folate, vitamin C and K, and fiber.

Bok choy

A mildly flavored vegetable that packs a nutritional punch. A rich source of vitamin C and A, bok choy is also a good source of phytonutrients like thiocyanites, which can protect against cancer and lower cholesterol. It is mostly used cooked, but baby bok choy can be shredded raw in a salad.

Broccoli

This cruciferous vegetable should be a staple in every diet. A rich source of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, vitamins A, C, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, and folate, broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables known to man. Also a rich source of sulphoraphane, a proven anticancer compound. Best nutritionally when steamed, but can be eaten raw or in a stir-fry as well.

Cabbage (green)

This ancient cruciferous vegetable has a mild flavor and is one of the most commonly used and inexpensive vegetables on the market. Famous for its ability to lower cholesterol, cabbage also contains compounds that can help prevent cancer. Can be applied topically to bruises to relieve pain, cabbage is said to be the greatest anti-inflammatory of all vegetables.

Carrots

Said to be good for eyesight because of the high content of beta-carotene, carrots bring a lot more than that to the table. A good source of vitamin A, K, C, B6, fiber, and potassium, carrots’ sweet taste and crunchy texture make them a winner with kids. Only you need know they are a great source of antioxidants.

Cauliflower

Another member of the cruciferous family, cauliflower’s mild flavor belies the fact that it is a rich source of vitamin C, folate, and other essential nutrients. Said to help the body rid itself of toxins, cauliflower’s high concentration of antioxidants make it a great cancer fighter.

Celery

You may think celery exists just to dip into hummus, but this rich source of vitamin C has more than crunch going for it. Because it contains 3-n butyl phthalide, a chemical that allows blood vessels to dilate, munching celery is a great way to prevent heart disease.

Chinese cabbage

Mildly flavored, easy to digest, and a rich source of folic acid, it’s low in calories and an excellent source of folic acid. Usually found in stir-fry dishes, Chinese cabbage can be shredded and eaten raw in salads to add nutrients and an interesting crunchy texture.

Collards

One of the dark leafy greens essential to health, collard greens, like kale, can help lower cholesterol, protect us against cancer, are a rich source of vitamin K, C, folic acid, calcium, and zinc. They hold on to their nutrients best when lightly cooked, like steaming, blanching, or in a stir-fry, but collards can be finely shredded and eaten raw in salads as well.

Cucumbers

There’s a reason we love these crunchy, moist veggies in the summer. Their water content keeps our bodies cool and balanced in hot weather, while providing us with plenty of vitamin C and A and fiber. It’s said that the silica in cucumbers results in a glowing complexion.

Daikon

This low-in-calorie, peppery tasting root veggie looks like a large white carrot and is a great source of vitamin C and fiber. But its claim to fame is a unique blend of enzymes that aid digestion and help the body assimilate fat, protein, and starches more efficiently. Can be used raw in salads, but the flavor is strong for people. It’s best cooked in stews, soups or stir-fry dishes.

Dandelion

No, not the ones that grow in your lawn, but the delicately bitter leaves we see at the market each spring. A great detox aid, dandelion is a rich source of calcium, vitamins A and K, and lutein to protect our eyesight. Delicious in salads, dandelion can be lightly sautéed with garlic and chili peppers for a great side dish.

Green onions

Green onion or green onion is part of the allium family and provides vitamin A, C, and K, as well as folate, copper, manganese, calcium, iron, and fiber. Use in stir-fry dishes, as garnish in soups, in salads, and in any recipe in place of onions.

Kale

Very similar to collard greens in nutritional value, but unlike collards, kale is wonderful when juiced with carrots, cucumbers, and parsley. It’s a bit sweeter and lends itself to being eaten raw or lightly cooked

Lemons (or limes)

Either lemons or limes bring a bit of sparkle to any dish, seeming to intensify the flavors. Lime is a wee bit sweeter, but both are rich sources of vitamin A and C, folates, and lutein. All citrus can be used in cooking, from oranges and grapefruit to tangerines, lemons, and limes. Just be advised that you can cook the zest in a dish, but take care not to cook the juice for more than a minute or it will take on a bitter aftertaste. And if you plan on using citrus zest in your cooking, go with organic fruit so you are not grating pesticides in with your sparkling flavor.

Lettuce

Most of us think of lettuce as not so nutrient-dense and a good, bland backdrop for dressing. Romaine lettuce is a good source of calcium, vitamin B6, iron, and other essential nutrients. Even iceberg lettuce has more going for it than crunch. It’s a great source of vitamin A, C, K, B6, iron, and potassium. Buy lettuce whole; wash and hand shred it to preserve the most nutrients. They may be easy to use, but shredded salads in a bag have lost a lot of their nutritive value.

Parsley

Much more than a simple garnish, this humble herb is a powerhouse of nutrition. As the world’s most popular herb, it is a rich source of vitamin K, C, and A. Its volatile oils contain compounds believed to fight cancer while its flavonoids, including luteolin help prevent oxygen damage to cells. Its folic acid content is said to contribute to heart health and the alleviation of arthritis symptoms. Use to enliven cooked dishes, as garnish in soups, as the base for pesto, or in other sauces and dressings.

Parsnips

Not an essential ingredient in your fridge, parsnips add wonderful sweetness and richness to dishes. A great source of fiber, vitamin C, K, folate, manganese, and potassium, parsnips, according to Chinese medicine, can help balance the spleen, pancreas, and stomach and aid in digestion. Great in stews, casseroles, soups, and stir-fry dishes.

Back to pantry main page