7 Pantry Essentials for a Healthier Lifestyle

1. Nuts

Nuts are packed with healthy fats, which means they’re also packed with energy. And goodness knows we’re all looking for an energy boost these days. They are also a source of protein which keeps you full and curbs cravings. If you can eat nuts but can’t bring them to work or school, keep them on hand at home for snacks and dinners.

  • nut butter
  • bliss balls
  • crusted roasted meats
  • granola
  • sweet cashew cream
  • crumbled topping
  • vegan cheeses

2. Oats

This whole grain keeps you full longer, as it takes your body longer to digest instead of passing through you and making you crave more food. Oats contribute to lowering your blood sugar and blood cholesterol, so they are a great whole grain option for diabetics. They can be used in any meal, sweet or savoury, and can be ground up as a substitute for flour.

  • overnight oats
  • granola
  • oat pancakes
  • crusted roasted meats
  • satiating smoothies
  • face masks

3. Beans

Beans contain starches that are super beneficial for gut health. Found only in beans and lentils, the starches act as a fibre to help keep toxins and pathogenic bacteria from flourishing. It also helps you to get more energy from other carbohydrates you consume. When your gut is healthy and clean, you feel and look less bloated and toxins are pushed through to keep your brain from getting foggy.

Adding fibre back into your diet can result in unpleasant gas. This is just your gut trying to get rid of the nasty stuff that has built up in your gut. The longer you have stayed away from fibre, the more uncomfortable and more stinky the gas will be. Try adding beans into your diet a little at a time, making them a regular choice, and drinking lots of water. Beans are a prime way to show yourself how variety in your diet can make you look and feel better.

  • chili
  • hummus
  • chickpea salad
  • black bean burgers
  • browned beans
  • white bean dip

4. Natural Sweeteners

Honey, maple syrup and molasses. These are the 3 main sweeteners that I think should be included in everyone’s pantry. They are way less refined than granulated sugars and actually contain nutrients and benefits that those other sugars don’t. If you’re trying to decrease your consumption of refined sugars, these sweeteners are great to help curb your cravings and decrease your withdrawal symptoms.

  • Honey
    • anti-biotic, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory
  • Maple Syrup
    • source of zinc and magnesium, which are beneficial for nail and hair growth, brain function, and especially for male health
  • Molasses
    • molasses is a great vegan/vegetarian source of iron, which keeps you from feeling weak and exhausted all the time

5. Cacao

Cacao is the original pronunciation of “cocoa”, the main ingredient in chocolate products. The name is now being used for products that contain purely cocoa, without added sulfites or other harmful preservatives. Keep cacao products in your pantry to add a chocolate flavour to any dish, along with magnesium and iron. Cacao powder is an exact replacement for cocoa powder, and cacao nibs are a great substitute for chocolate chips.

  • trail mix
  • chocolate bliss balls
  • hot cocoa
  • chocolate pancakes
  • molé/chili

6. Dried Fruit

It’s difficult to keep fresh fruit on hand, and frozen fruit can can be a pain in the tooth. Keeping dried fruit in the pantry ensures that you have your most beneficial source of vitamins and fibre on hand at all times. Eat on its own as snack or add to your favourite recipes rehydrated or as is.

Go for unsweetened dried fruit with no added sulfites. Dried vegetable crisps are also a tasty snack and an easy way to keep produce on hand at all times.

  • trail mix
  • chips (ex. banana chips, apple chips)
  • muffins and scones
  • oatmeal cookies
  • fruit cake
  • fruit bars

7. Herbs and Spices

One reason why eating out is so enticing is that there seems to be so much more flavour in the food. Apart from containing way more fat flavour, these foods usually contain added flavours from spices and herbs (ehem, KFC’s 11 herbs and spices). Keep your healthy food from being boring and tasting bland by adding flavours that you actually enjoy.

An additional benefit to herbs and spices is that they contain thousands of phytochemicals which are beneficial to your body in more ways than science has yet to understand. For example, pepper products (cayenne, chili and black pepper) contain a natural chemical called peperine that can help you absorb your nutrients 1000 times better. Different herbs and spices can help with digestion, headaches, inflammation and even disease prevention. Create your own spice mixes using your favourite flavours and avoid buying premixed seasoning packages, which contain added sodium and preservatives. If you already have a favourite spice package, look at the ingredients and try making your own using the same flavours.

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