October 23, 2014

Living the Healthy Life: Must-Have Items for Your Pantry

If you are looking to get healthier and more fit, your pantry is one of the first places you need to visit. When you open up the cabinets what do you see? By making 4 simple changes in your pantry, you can reduce your temptations, improve your health, and nourish your body with the food it needs.

Making changes in our diets and our habits can be hard if we try to do them all at once. Take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Take one of the items on this list and make the change today!

Looking for other small steps you can make. Check out my Do One Thing series for more ideas. One small change a month can lead to huge results.

OK, so let’s roll up our sleeves and take those items off the pantry shelf. Create a clean slate for the healthy pantry you are going to build. By filling your pantry with healthier, non-processed foods you will be less likely to snack on high-fat, high-calorie items and your meals will be guaranteed to be good for the whole family. So let’s get started!

1.  Whole Grain Flour and Pasta

Believe me, I am not going to tell you to remove all the carbohydrates from your cabinets and throw them in the trash. That thought just made me a little woozy. I love pasta and bread and I am not willing to give them up!

But here’s the way to make your carbs work better for you…

Swap out the white flour for whole grains. Most pasta and bread is made from durum wheat, a type of wheat that is high in protein and high in gluten, that has been stripped of the bran and germ. By removing the bran and germ from the grain it removes much of the valuable nutrients as well.

So if you still want to enjoy your pasta, purchase 100% whole wheat pasta. If you have a gluten-intolerance and find that eating gluten makes you feel sluggish or gives you an upset stomach, no worries! There are some wonderful gluten-free alternatives available like quinoa pasta and brown rice pasta.

And for baking cake, pies and cookies, replace 1/4 to 1/2 of your white all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. For breads, ditch the all-purpose flour all together.

2.  Rolled Oats

One of our favorite things to eat for breakfast is homemade oatmeal. No little quick-cooking, mushy oatmeal packets for us. I love to use rolled oats since they have a bit of chewiness to them and also allow us to get whole grains into our diets.

Making your own oatmeal couldn’t be easier. Here’s are a few combinations I really like:

Apple and Cranberry Oatmeal

  • Add two parts unsweetened almond milk and one part rolled oats to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • While the mixture is coming to a slow boil, dice up one organic apple (no pesticides for us thank you!) and add it to the pot along with a good handful of dried cranberries.
  • When the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and stir. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of ground flax seeds (for some omega -3s), some chopped pecans and combine until oatmeal is thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and top with a little more brown sugar and chopped pecans.

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

  • Add two parts unsweetened almond milk and one part rolled oats to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • While the mixture is coming to a slow boil, grate one medium zucchini and add to mixture along with a handful of raisins.
  • When the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and stir. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of ground flax seeds (for some omega -3s), some chopped pecans and combine until oatmeal is thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in a teaspoon of almond extract and top with chopped pecans.

If you only have time to grab and go in the morning, try making some overnight oats instead. Here are a few recipes to try:

  • Yummy Kitchen has six great flavors and I love the use of the mason jars for easy transport.
  • Oh My Veggies has a wonderful Mango Coconut version. I just lurve mangos!
  • Oh She Glows has 12 gorgeous vegan overnight oat recipes. Love her layered parfaits.

3. Brown Rice

Did you know that a recent study found that by switching to brown rice you could decrease your risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes? White rice has a higher glycemic index than brown rice which causes a greater increase in blood glucose levels.

As with the white refined flours, white rice has been stripped of the outer layer of the grain removing the bran and germ. Brown rice retains this outer layer and the vital nutrients our bodies need like iron, vitamins B1, B3 and B6.

While brown rice takes a little more water and a little more time to cook, it’s well worth the health benefits.

Make up a batch and use it to make some quick burritos with black beans, some ground chicken and some homemade taco seasoning. Or how about a veggie burger with brown rice, shredded carrots and zucchini and some black beans. Delish!

4.  Dried Fruits and Nuts

In our house we always have dried cranberries, raisins, figs and apricots on hand as well as all types of nuts – pecans, almonds, peanuts, walnuts and pine nuts. They are great for snacking, putting in salads, mixing into oatmeal, combining with ground meat or adding to baked goods.

I also love to make a quick, yummy, no-cook snack with them like my Peanut Butter Power Bites. By combining dried fruit like figs, dates, and cranberries with nuts and zapping them in the food processor you can create some really delicious snack bars in just minutes. Who needs potato chips and cookies?

For a few more ideas to inspire you check out these recipes:

So now it’s your turn! What items are you planning to rid your pantry of? What other healthy items do you have in your kitchen that you just love?

 

 

Comments

  1. Great suggestions!!! I wish my pantry was as organized as yours!!

    • Thanks Sarah! I am really liking the use of the pull out metal bins for my cabinet. Things don’t always fit in exactly how I would like but it does make it so much easier to find things and keep the clutter down.

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