The uber-fast lifestyle of the 21st century absolutely necessitates healthy eating. In an increasingly variable world filled with supplements and chemicals, what you consume now is what will reflect in your health years later.
Having a healthy diet makes you feel better both physically and mentally. It also enables good family bonding, because the entire family comes together to enjoy healthy, delicious meals – another thing often missing in the modern era.
The very first step towards having a well balanced and healthy lifestyle is having a pantry with nutritious and tasty staples stocked up in it. Here at HueTrition, we help you and your family develop clean, lean, and healthy habits with what you eat. These healthy pantry staples range from veggies and snacks to food items that can take your clean eating meal plan to the next level.
Organizing Your Pantry
Before stocking up, consider the state of your pantry. If it needs a bit of decluttering, we’ve got some tips for you. Organizing your pantry takes some time but it’s well worth the effort. As time passes, it’s easy for a pantry to get cluttered and disorganized, not to mention the added confusion caused by family members putting items back where they don’t belong (parents, can you relate?)
Take a deep breath and roll up your sleeves. Here are some tips for getting that pantry into tip-top shape:
- Clear out items you know you won’t ever use.
That crusty bottle of salad dressing no one likes in the corner of your fridge? Languishing box of cookies you got for Christmas and never opened? Jar of almond butter you keep forgetting to pop open? They’ve gotta go. Toss out anything you never use or bring them to your office break room to see if there are any takers.
- Use your nose to decide what to keep.
Okay, so you’ve thrown out the unused and undesired items in your pantry. But what about the stuff you just can’t let go of? Don’t rely too heavily on sell-by dates. Expiration dates can mean different things for different items so employ some good common sense here. Give them a good sniff and see if they still smell fresh. If so, they’ve probably still got some life left in them.
- Make sure you can see everything.
You won’t have so many unused and undesired foods lurking in your pantry if you keep everything as visible as possible. Arrange jars and containers as you would for a group of people taking a picture: tall items in back, more “petite” items in the front. This way, everyone gets to be in the picture (or meal, in our case).
- Arrange by freshness and category.
Keep older items in front of new replacement items so you’ll remember to use those first. Let’s say, for example, you’ve got a brand new jar of organic turmeric just raring to go but still have a bit left in an old jar. Keep the new jar standing behind the old jar in your spice cabinet so you’ll always reach for the old one first.
Categorizing your items by type (keep reading to see how we do it) will help you monitor what needs to be restocked and what you’ve got plenty of, which is crucial to efficient meal planning for your family. You don’t have to get too detailed but having a general sense of where everything is will keep you from running out of ingredients at inopportune times (i.e. in the middle of meal preparation, gasp!) Also, you’ll find it easier to make your grocery for the list for the week if you divide your list into the same categories.
Healthy and Delicious Items to Have in Your Pantry
Having a pantry filled with nutritious kitchen essentials that also happen to be delicious is essential to making healthy choices in the home. It allows you to put together well balanced meals for yourself and your family that are tasty and enjoyable to eat while also giving them the nutrients they need.
Here are some delicious foods that also serve as healthy pantry staples:
- Dry Goods
Not only is quinoa one of the most versatile and nourishing whole grains, but it’s also a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, and protein. Containing all the nine essential amino acids, it’s versatile enough to be included in every kind of meal, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, or even dessert.
Quinoa can be used throughout the week in salads, stuffed veggies, soups, breakfast bowls, and quesadillas. You can also opt to stir-cook quinoa with leftover beans, herbs, and veggies, by adding in a bit of olive oil and seasoning to create a nutrition-filled meal.
Oats contain a lot of good carbs, protein, and fiber, such as the beneficial fiber, beta-glucan. Rich in antioxidants, oats aid in lowering cholesterol levels and also protects the LDL cholesterol from getting damaged.
Those who suffer from diabetes or are overweight can greatly benefit from oats, as they help in improving your blood sugar level. Oatmeal is a go-to breakfast option for many, regardless of whether you have it before leaving for school or work. Oatmeal keeps you full and helps you lose weight.
Oats can also help in reducing childhood asthma. They’re great for your skin, and work well in controlling constipation, too.
Brown rice and purple rice are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients and are great for make ahead meals, workweek lunches, and clean eating meal plans. Both are whole grains, which are known to reduce the risks of many chronic diseases and even believed to help with acne. If you’re looking to add some Asian recipes to your repertoire, be sure to stock up on rice for your pantry. Bonus: they’ll keep for a very long time (cooked rice up to one week in the fridge and dry rice up to a year in your pantry).
Rich in dietary fiber and protein, beans are one of those healthy pantry staples that should be a part of every household. Containing a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they work really well in managing and controlling your cholesterol levels, while also aiding you in watching your weight.
Beans can be thrown into a variety of concoctions, including salads, pasta sauces, burgers, burritos, quesadillas, salsas, etc. They can also be used to create healthy and delicious dips.
Lentils are not only cost-effective and easy to prepare, but their nutritional value makes them a healthy pantry staple to have. They contain fiber, folic acid, and potassium, all of which contribute towards improving the health of your health.
Lentils possess selenium that helps reduce the risk of several types of cancer, namely colorectal, prostate, lung, bladder, skin, esophageal, and gastric. They are rich in nonheme iron, that keeps you energized and helps you fight fatigue.
Lentils are also known to aid in digestion. They make you feel full and reduce your overall calorie intake.
Also known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans are another great source of plant-based protein. A 1-ounce serving of these pantry staples provide you with 3 grams of proteins and almost all the essential amino acids you need in a meal (pair with a whole grain option to get all your amino acids in one sitting).
In addition to being a healthy staple, garbanzo beans are a versatile ingredient to have in your pantry, especially if you’re interested in clean eating snacks for your family. You can blend them with tahini to make into hummus or drizzle them with olive oil and roast them for a crunchy snack. They add a punch of flavor and protein to salads and can take your Greek and Indian food recipes to the next level.
For more tasty ideas, download Huetrition’s eBook here.
2. Oils, Vinegar, Sauces, and Condiments
Is there a more versatile, heart-healthy oil out there? Probably, but olive oil gets a special place in our hearts because of its good fats, anti-inflammatory properties, and high antioxidant count. It’s common knowledge now that a Mediterreanean diet, the core of which revolves around olive oil, is key in reducing chances of heart disease.
Olive oil’s many uses also make it a mainstay in your pantry. Make your own salad dressing with spoonfuls of olive oil, dashes of balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Drizzle olive oil over roasted root vegetables and sprinkle with parsley. Toss it with air popped corn for a quick and healthy snack. If you’re storing boiled noodles for a make ahead meal, stirring a few drops of olive oil in will keep them from clumping later on. The possibilities are endless with olive oil.
Related: 5 Creative Salad Ideas
Avocado oil may not be as ubiquitous as olive oil, but it’s another useful oil to have in your pantry. Like olive oil, avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), anti-inflammatory, and full of antioxidants. You can use it in much the same way as olive oil, in salad dressings, sautee-ing food on the stove, and to drizzle over snacks and veggies.
The difference between avocado oil and olive oil however is that olive oil has a low smoke point of about 350 degrees whereas avocado oil has a high smoke point of 520 degrees. If you’re roasting anything above 350 degrees, use avocado oil instead of olive oil. Be sure to purchase high quality cold-pressed avocado oil to make sure you’re getting all the good taste and nutrients that come with this tasty pantry item.
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil are not stored as fat, and are instead burned as energy, which is one of the many benefits of having it as a kitchen essential. When picking out a good coconut oil, make sure to look for certain words on the pack. If the words “virgin/extra virgin”, “unrefined”, “organic”, and “cold-pressed” are mentioned, then go for it.
Coconut oil can be used for many purposes and its tropical, exotic taste can add a delicious element to hot drinks, curries, soups, and many Asian recipes. Coconut oil can also be used in many baking recipes to substitute butter.
Peanut butter is that one breakfast spread that’s loved by both kids and adults alike. In fact, any kind of nut butter should serve as a kitchen essential, be it almond or peanut or whatever you prefer. Nut butter acts as a primary source of healthy fats, and is rich in protein that helps in burning fat and building lean muscle.
In order to go for the most nutrition-rich choice, choose the nut butter containing the two most important ingredients, namely nut and butter. Apart from applying it to your breakfast toast, nut butter can also be added to a mix of garlic, hot chili sauce, and soy sauce to marinate vegetables and tofu.
3. Clean and Delicious Foods For Your Fridge
Studies indicate that eating eggs in the morning makes you consume less food for the rest of the day. Eggs contain amino acids that help in the preservation and formation of lean muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism and burns fat.
Eggs serve as an excellent source of protein and a wide variety of vitamins such as A, D, and B12. The choline it contains helps with brain development, and also enhancing muscle health and energy levels.
The good thing is that eggs can be consumed in various forms, be it scrambled, hard-boiled, poached, and more. You can also choose to add them in pastas, salads, sandwiches, and breakfast burritos.
Greek yogurt has an immense amount of probiotics that help in providing your body with a healthy digestive system. Rich in calcium, protein, vitamin B12, Greek yogurt contains calcium that aids in burning off cortisol, which is a hormone that produces belly fat.
It can be used as a substitute for cream in soups, curries, and sauces. You can also choose to add a cup of Greek yogurt to your breakfast smoothie.
You can’t really go wrong with fish preparations. They’re delicious, healthy, and loved by pretty much everyone in the family. The best thing is that fish is filled with vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The omega-3 fatty acids keep your heart healthy, reduce inflammation, and also lowers your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Fatty fish such as tuna, trout, mackerel, and salmon serve as great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Avoid consuming the fish high in mercury such as swordfish, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, and king mackerel, and you’ll be good to go. You can make either poached or steamed fish, as they’re both the healthy kind of meals. Having baked fish is an easy and nutritious option as well.
Bone broth is rich in several nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. It’s also rich in gelatin, which in turn helps in protecting the joints. Bone broth also helps those who display signs of osteoarthritis.
The amino acids present in bone broth help in improving the process of digestion. It also aids in reducing inflammation, heals the gut, and is a great way to get anti-inflammatory amino acids into the body.
The protein present in bone broth makes you full, thereby leading to less calorie consumption and helping in weight loss. Drinking bone broth before going to bed is a good way to ensure proper sleep as you get to consume the amino acid known as glycine.
4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Bananas are rich in fiber and antioxidants. The pectin and resistant starch it contains helps in moderating blood sugar levels. The dietary fiber present in bananas makes it a good source to promote digestive health.
Including a banana in your breakfast ensures you get enough nutrients for the rest of the day. Bananas also provide your body with potassium, which helps in improving the health of your heart. The various kinds of antioxidants present in it, namely dopamine and catechins, reduce the risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses.
Apples do so much heavy lifting when it comes to health benefits for our bodies. Not only are they known to help cardiovascular health, they help us manage weight gain, protect our cells from DNA oxidant damage (which can lead to cancer), and even help with constipation! It’s even been found in medical studies that apple intake over many years can reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 28%.
Did we forget to mention how delicious they are? Apples are one of those foods that are tasty and good for you. You can slice them up for afternoon snacks for the kids, put them in a pie during the holidays, or even put them in a processor to add sweetness to sauces and stews.
Celery is a fantastic source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folates, and potassium. You can even hope on the celery juice bandwagon and run it through that juice maker you’ve been meaning to use. Celery keeps for a long time and it’s a simple snack to have around for young children; just cut them into easy 3-4 inch sticks and keep them in a meal prep container in the fridge. Children (and adults too) can have fun dipping celery sticks into salad dressing, peanut butter, almond butter, or hummus.
With the busy schedule almost everyone has these days, it’s increasingly easy to ignore our health. Be it for reasons related to work, relationships, kids, or anything, more often than not, we find ourselves resorting to unhealthy food choices.
It’s definitely easy to simply order takeout without caring about how greasy the food is, but all those unhealthy snacks eventually combine together to give our bodies a lot of grief. The only way out of this is to have a pantry that’s not only filled with delicious choices, but also healthy ones. That way, not only will you be eating well, you also won’t be tempted to order the oily and unhealthy options available elsewhere.
So, stock up your pantry with the healthy pantry staples listed above, and you’ll slowly see yourself building towards a much healthier life. Find out more about how HueTrition can help you meet your health goals.