Welcome to Simply Sunday here at the Health and Food Forum’s Blog. Today’s topic is “Healthy Kitchen Staples.”* A well-stocked kitchen can help you meet your weight management and nutrition goals. Packing your cupboards and icebox full of healthy food staples will provide you with the needed ingredients to prepare well-balanced, nutrient-dense meals. A sufficiently prepared pantry can also aid in the creation of quick meals and snacks for those hectic, on-the-go days. The healthy staples that you should have in your kitchen include:
Healthy Pantry Staples
- Dried Beans: These supply your body with protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Furthermore, they are relatively low in fat and contain no cholesterol. A diet that is abundant in this healthy staple can help to decrease cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar values, and lower the risk of certain cancers. Dried lentils are a good choice if you are short on time because there is no need to soak them overnight before they can be cooked.
- Whole-Grains: The fiber content of this food group can help with weight management by providing a sensation of fullness with a consumption of fewer calories. Whole grains are a low-fat source of protein and complex carbohydrates. Quinoa is a good choice, especially for vegetarians, because it is a complete protein (contains all eight essential amino acids) and is a good source of iron.
- Healthy Oils: Although you should not consume a high-fat diet, your body does require a certain amount of fat to carry out numerous metabolic processes. The type of fat you consume is important for optimal health. You will want to stock your pantry with oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is a good choice because it has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and to protect against heart diseasae.
- Spices: Spices are an excellent way to add flavor to dishes without adding extra salt, sugar, and fat. Cinnamon has been linked to improved fasting blood sugar levels in diabetics. Sprinkle it over your morning oatmeal or use it as a flavoring for roasted nuts. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Use it to flavor brown rice or other whole-grain dishes.
- Canned Tuna: Albacore tuna fish is an excellent source of protein and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Purchase low-sodium cans of tuna and rinse with water prior to consuming to reduce sodium content. Mix a can of tuna fish with whole-grain pasta for a quick lunch.
- Canned Tomatoes: This pantry staple can be used to make salsas, sauces, and soups. It also makes a great topping for baked potatoes and omelets. Thanks to the lycopene content, canned tomatoes offer protection against certain cancers (lung, colon, breast, prostate, and skin) and they have been linked to a reduced the risk of heart disease.
- Nut and Seed Butters: A great source of protein, nut and seed butters can be spread on whole-grain bread, mixed with hot cereal, or used in sauces to top whole-grain noodles or rice.
Healthy Icebox Staples
- Soybeans (Edamame): Soybeans are an excellent source of protein, unsaturated fat, and fiber. Edamame can be tossed in a mixed-greens salad or eaten alone as a healthy snack.
- Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: These icebox staples are a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They also help with weight management due to their fiber content. Frozen fruit can be used to make smoothies and frozen vegetables can be added to soups and sauces.
Healthy eating requires planning and preparation. By keeping your pantry and icebox stocked with staples that can be easily and quickly turned into meals, you increase your chances of adhering to a healthy lifestyle.
*Today’s post was adapted from Simply Fit’s “Kitchen Staple Essentials for the Physically Active” posted on November 5, 2009.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2005, Murray, M
“How to Build a Healthy Pantry For Busy People,” December 8, 2008, Van Sunder, T.
Food for Fitness, Eat Right to Train Right, 2004, Carmichael, C.