What to Buy When Creating a Healthy Pantry – Part 2

Last week I started a 3 part series of what to keep in a healthy pantry. There are so many options, it was hard to choose, but I whittled my growing list to some of my absolute favorites that are readily available and can easily be incorporated into your pantry.  As a reminder, don’t feel like you have to make drastic changes to be healthHealthy Pantryy. Start with one ingredient at time and have fun exploring new tastes and texture.  To check out what I covered last week, click here.

I don’t do a lot of baking but when I do I enjoy experimenting with different flours. White flour, like all the other no-no white foods (white sugar, rice etc) has had most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber stripped out of it, leaving it nutrient dense-less.  Consider trying two of my new favorites.

Almond Meal/Flour is my favorite for baking. Check out this amazing Carrot Cake Recipe All I’m going to say is YUM!  Almond flour is among one of the most nutrient dense flours and is a good source of protein too. Use it not only for desserts but as a gluten free substitute for bread crumbs.

Spelt Flour is far more fiber rich with fewer calories than many flours and has a slightly nutty, sweet taste. Use it with baked goods, like pie crust, pizza crust or breads. Spelt is one of the oldest cultivated crops and is related to wheat.

Choosing healthy Fats and Oils can not only enhance the flavor of your foods but can help your waist line too. I shared some of the fats I like the best earlier in my article about Getting Skinny on Fat and to learn why coconut oil is worth loving, click here.

Vinegars are an important part of my pantry and I usually have 4 or 5 different ones open at any one time.

Apple Cider Vinegar is one of my favorites, not only for taste but for all of its amazing health benefits. Look for one like Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar that has the mother in it. The mother contains important proteins, enzymes and happy, beneficial bacteria. Some studies show that apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss because it increases the feeling of being full so you eat less. It also balance our ph level so that we are slightly more alkaline, making it more difficult for pesky virus and bad bacteria to proliferate.

White Distilled Vinegar has antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it great for cleaning. Fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water and use it to clean kitchen counters, and sinks. White vinegar is wonderful as a sunburn soother too. If you have had too much sun, dampen a soft towel or face cloth and soak in vinegar for a minute or so. Lay the cloth over the burned area for a few minutes and repeat until the skin feels cooler. If you are burned all over consider taking a bath with 1-2 cups of vinegar added in.

Have some fun! Flavored vinegar and Balsamic vinegar adds flavor to salads, soups, sauces, marinades and more. My favorite to make vinaigrette with is raspberry vinegar, but I usually have red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic, and rice vinegar. Buy smaller, high quality bottles of these. The flavor will be worth it.

Spices are key to many of my recipes and I have several that I use only on occasion. If you don’t currently possess a large spice/herb selection below are some of my favorites because you can use them in almost anything – soups, salads, with meats, veggies… you name it.

Herbs de Provence ( I substitute with this when I run out of oregano or thyme)

Chili Powder

Paprika

Cinnamon

Cayenne

Cumin

Chinese 5 Spice

Curry

Thyme

Turmeric

 

If you are interested in expanding beyond the basics, try:

Oregano

Rosemary

Sage

Nutmeg

Clove

Coriander

Garam Masala

Chipotle Pepper

Orange/Lemon Peel

Marjoram

For a simple starter combine 1 tablespoon of Herb de Provence, with a ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper each. Add a tablespoon of oil to make a rub for chicken, beef, pork or grilled veggies or add ¼ cup of oil and ¼ of vinegar to make super-fast vinaigrette. Adjust pepper, oil or vinegar to taste.

Stay tuned for next week when I’ll cover what not to keep in your pantry and what to switch to instead.

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