PANTRY MUST HAVES TO KEEP YOU IN GOOD HEALTH
No denying there are a fair few ingredients constituting the pantry of a nutritionist, and whilst not all items are absolute necessity (the diversity of ingredients definitely comes with curiosity in food creations) there are some which will help keep your health in check as you move into the year ahead. When you fuel your pantry, fridge, freezer and fruit bowl with whole nourishing foods not only are you choosing optimal nutrition but when it comes to making meals and snacks you have a chance to learn and be creative with the way you eat too.
Stock up this year by adding just one new ingredient each week, each fortnight or even monthly if that works for you, your headspace, your pantry space and your budget. Nothing has to happen overnight, the longer term results come from small frequent changes.
THE PANTRY CHECKLIST
Nuts and seeds: keep these raw. You do greater justice to the nutrition in these nuggets by having them raw. They are so diverse in use for both sweet and savoury. Go with…
Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, linseeds (brown or golden), pinenuts, coconut (shredded, flaked and desiccated)
Cooking tip : did you know you can make a chia egg to replace regular eggs if you’re vegan or just want to try something new? 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water, stir and let gel for 10 minutes then mix into recipes, best in baking, as needed.
Grains and pseudograins: buy these in the 1kg packs if you can as you’ll save on $$ based on the frequency of use. Grains are a wonderful source of B vitamins and carbohydrates for sustained energy and to help our brains function at their absolute best. On the list…
Buckwheat and pure buckwheat soba noodles, teff, quinoa and quinoa flakes, basmati/red/wild/black/brown rice, oats, barley are wonderful staples for any individual, family or otherwise to keep their energy levels in good check.
+ Nutrition tip : Oats are inherently gluten free. Why we warn coeliacs away from eating them however is because they are often grown and farmed near to wheat crops. This can lead to small molecules travelling airborne from the wheat to the oat crop. Look out for ‘uncontaminated oats’ if you love your oat hit ever so much but need to manage a coeliac diet or alternatively try quinoa flakes. If you love oats very much and summer flavours check out our recipe for Summer Mango Coconut Tart.
Flours: trialling different flours for baking up something delicious to take you through your week is a great way to expand your creativity with cooking or baking for that matter. You don’t need tonnes of it, just a few different types will see you through. Try these for your next cook off…
Spelt, coconut, buckwheat, almond, brown rice and teff flour are the most commonly used as their flavours are fairly neutral. Quinoa, lentil and chickpea flours are other great options but it depends on how many jars you want to fill and what recipes you’re cooking too of course.
+ Health Hack: Teff is a wonderful source of calcium, iron and protein and is gluten free. It’s a nutritional powerhouse for such a tiny grain. As the weather gets cooler mix teff grain with your quinoa for a wholesome morning porridge or include some teff flour to make a great pizza base if you want to amp up your weekend (or weeknight!) pizza game – check out our recipe here.
Fruits and sweeteners: It’s really up to you how many of these hit your pantry shelves. We love natural sweeteners for raw food, baked, and for a quick snack without feeling the glycaemic highs and lows of refined sugars. Consider these…
Medjool dates, goji berries, organic turkish apricots, currants, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, stevia drops, coconut sugar (which does in fact go through processing and refinement so use moderately), coconut nectar and raw honey. We’ve taken to dehydrating fruits of late, particularly throughout the summer and keep them on hand for out and about or making fruit straps with mango, strawberry and banana.
+ Snack tip : in need of a little sweet pick me up but want to balance the load on your blood glucose? Mix a source of fats from your pantry with the sweet so it lowers the glycaemic load. A medjool date with a few nuts such as almonds, cashews or walnuts is a great way to do this. And if you haven’t gone there already – the medjool date with cashew butter is like nature’s caramel!
Legumes and beans: aren’t everyone’s thing, but for those following a plant based, vegan diet or simply aiming to up the plant intake during the week, it’s essential to include these in the diet to provide the essential amino acids our bodies need to synthesise proteins and for growth, development and repair. If dry legumes are going to be too tricky to start then buy a few tins of organic instead, rinse well and pack away in the fridge, adding a quick handful to the meals that need the boost. Those to start with – tinned or dry…
Brown lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, puy lentils (french, lovely and delicate) and red lentils or split peas (great for making dhal).
+ Nutrition tip : Meat Free Monday came about some years ago as a means to encourage people to include more plants in their diet and consider the impact excessive consumption of meat has on our environment. If you’ve not taken to it yet perhaps this year is your time? As you do, include some legumes from above in your day to satiate your appetite and fuel your body with plant based proteins.
Oils, vinegars, condiments and spreads: which are some of the more asked about items in a pantry look like this…
Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, macadamia oil, tamari, sesame oil, fish sauce, tahini, almond butter, natural peanut butter, cashew butter, ghee
+ Cooking tip : macadamia oil is divine in baking and dressings particularly if you are not fond of the coconut oil flavour which many are not. Coconut oil is highly nutritious but is not the answer to everything for either your cooking or health. Diversity with these high quality fats is important too.
Extra food and nutrition boosting ingredients: that once you start with you seem to find you cannot live without include…
Raw cacao, maca, lucuma, camu, vanilla, cacao butter, greens powder, coconut milk and cream
Snack tip : icy poles are so easy if you’ve fresh fruit and coconut cream on hand and they taste creamy but without the cream effect! Try 2 cups fruit to 400ml tin coconut cream with a dash of vanilla and blend. Freeze overnight and you’re good to go. Depending on your fruit you can add a dash of sweetener such as maple or rice malt.
AND ONE MORE SPECIAL INGREDIENT…maybe a little unique to the pantry of yours truly. You can spot it, but perhaps it’s an ingredient you’re not yet familiar with. In the jar labelled 2017, are small thoughts written by me, to me each day. There’s no time or theme, just whatever springs to mind as the year progresses in life, family, love, work, happiness. At the end of the year, I’ll delve back into the jar and read them all and see what’s happened in the year that has been. You like? Never too late to start it from today, the next or even in February as you TRULY reset in health and wellbeing. Because let’s face it, January for most of us is still the time to be festive right?!?!
Tell us – what’s special in your pantry and what great things are you creating with them?