Hey there! So It was brought to my attention recently that a few people were requesting a list of pantry items to always have in stock in your home. This is a GREAT question to ask. We all want to eat right and be able to make things on the fly that are good for us, so we must start with a well stocked pantry or we'll be out of luck every time and always needing a grocery store run! We don't want that.
Having a well stocked pantry is key. You need certain essentials on hand to be able to make your favorite healthy recipes at anytime. Obviously, you may need to run out for the fresh items if you don't have them at the moment, but things that will keep well in a cabinet or pantry are so key in being prepared for healthy meal planning. I will share with you a list of a few of my favorite go-to's (in no particular order) when it comes to absolute necessity for me to have on hand in my own house. Most of these are listed on my Amazon Store, and I will share links for where to buy the brands I like so you know.
Item #1: Ground flax seed or flax seed meal. This is such a great thing to keep on hand because you can add it to so many different recipes and add amazing health benefits without even really noticing it's there. Flax seed is loaded with fiber and also a good source of Omega 3's. I add this to many recipes, including my protein bars, breakfast-to-go muffins, peanut butter protein cookies, and better-for-you banana bread. I also add this to my smoothies sometimes, or on old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal if I choose. Basically, it's an easy way to make almost anything a little bit healthier. :-) You can store it in a cabinet or pantry, but you may get a longer shelf life out of it if stored in the refrigerator (although some of us go through it too fast to matter... haha!). You can purchase them by clicking HERE.
Item #2: Chia Seeds. These are another super easy healthy item to have on hand. These are also a great source of Omega 3's. Not only that, but they are also full of antioxidants, fiber and protein. These are one of the ingredients in my breakfast-to-go muffins, and they are also great to have on hand to add to smoothies (warning: they can get stuck in your teeth, so keep a look out!). You can also make chia pudding with these that can be very yummy (recipe for that coming soon!). They will last quite a while in your pantry. You can find them HERE.
Item #3: Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein. I just love this stuff. Whey protein is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is one of the two proteins in milk (casein and whey). Whey can be separated from the casein in milk, or formed as a by product of cheese. It is relatively low in lactose, but still some people with milk allergies may have issues with this. Whey protein helps rebuild muscle, may help reduce inflammation, may help lower blood pressure, and it is highly satiating, meaning it can help you stay fuller longer. Check out this article by Authority Nutrition for more. I specifically love using Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein simply because it only has one ingredient - whey! Many whey proteins in health food stores can contain a lot of added ingredients that are not always great to be consuming, so for me... less is more. :-) I use this for TONS of recipes on my blog, and more. And if you want a chocolate protein powder for something, try using this and adding some cacao powder (but be careful.. sometimes adding too much cacao powder can give a bitter taste!). You can buy Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein right HERE.
Item #4: Raw Organic Cacao Powder. This is a must especially if you are a chocolate lover (like me!). Raw cacao is a great source of antioxidants, magnesium and iron. This is why a bit of dark chocolate is actually considered a good thing in your life. But how great is it to be able to make your own recipes at home adding cacao powder for a yummy chocolate taste with the added benefits! I add this to my Homemade Protein Bars and many other recipes. The possibilities are endless!
Item #5: Shredded Coconut. Shredded coconut is useful in so many ways. Not only is it great for baking, but also adding to many cooking recipes for your everyday eating. It's a healthy addition providing healthy fats and good energy. I always have some on hand!!! This kind is my favorite, but any shredded coconut you like will do just fine.
Item #6: Healthy Cooking Fats. You need to make sure you always have some good healthy fats available to do your cooking and baking. My favorite go-to's for this are Unrefined Coconut Oil , Ghee, and Coconut Ghee (my favorite... a blend of the two!). Butter from grass-fed cows is also a good choice (please no margarine!!!). I absolutely love Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well, but I try not to do much cooking with it since it has a relatively low smoke point. I use it for some low to medium heat cooking, but mostly for dressings and marinades. Please stay away from using vegetable oil. It is linked to too many health problems that you don't want or need. I would also avoid canola oil since about 80-90% of it is produced from genetically modified plants. I don't want that, and neither should you. And if you are scared to use these suggested items because of saturated fats, you need to look at current research. Saturated fats are not the enemy
Item #7: Coconut Flour. Coconut flour is a great alternative for healthy cooking when you're trying to avoid regular flour or if you are gluten free. I use it for many of my baking recipes and even when cooking some meals. It is high in fiber and helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level. But be aware! Coconut flour is extremely absorbent, and you will need much less than regular flour in any given recipe. You will only use roughly 1/4 - 1/3 cup of coconut flour for every cup of regular all purpose flour. You can find coconut flour HERE. I use it in my Better-For-You Banana Bread and many other recipes.
So I hope this is a start. Of course, I could go on for pages here, and maybe I will do a second installment of this blog post at a later date. But for now, I hope you find this helpful. Now go make some healthy food with all this stuff!!! :-)
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.