I hope you had fun cleaning and clearing out some space in your pantry! For the second installment of the Nutritionista's guide to building a natural foods pantry series I will focus on what you should keep on hand and regularly stock up on.
Top 5 Things to Keep and/or Stock Up On:
1. Beans – watch for the sales and then stock the pantry full of all the canned varieties you enjoy. Dried beans are a great budget conscious option but take much longer to prepare. Either way, beans are delicious and nutritious in salad, chili, soup, with a rice dish, served as a puree, and in countless other ways.
2. The accessories – oils, vinegars, alternative sweeteners and spices. Do you worry how to jazz up that same old boring meal? Accessorize and experiment with interesting spices, add a dash of your favorite oil and presto chango new kinds of yumminess!
3. Great grains – these are high in fiber, made up of complex carbohydrates filled with energy, vitamins and nutrients, and are the perfect companion to any main dish. Look for whole wheat, quinoa or brown rice pastas, gluten-free alternatives to flour, hearty steel cut oats, and versatile ancient grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and millet.
4. Its uncanny – how helpful canned goods can be in a pinch but be sure to keep it real. Instead of tomato sauce in the jar, go for canned tomatoes with nothing added and spice it up yourself stove-side. Keep a watchful eye for varieties with those pesky added items such as sugar, sodium, preservatives or oil. Another canned favorite that I always keep on hand is artichokes packed in water. After a quick rinse they are a great addition to an omelette, can class-up any salad, and pair well sauteed with or without other veggies and spices to be served over a grain or pasta. My go-to combo is shallots, garlic, artichokes, sea salt, and red pepper flakes.
5. The fancy stuff – are those little splurges that turn any home cooked meal into a true culinary treat. Some of my favorites are dried truffles or truffle paste, sea salt, Dijon mustard, sun dried tomatoes, flavored olive oils, sea veggies, ethnic spices and a variety of teas. I also love to can and pickle veggies when they are in their peak season and I save them to enjoy throughout the year. Red onions, garlic, and string beans are versatile and well-priced options. I patiently wait all year to grab okra and ramps during their short-lived seasons to squirrel away for the winter.
Next time we will explore some tips on organization. Enjoy and do let me know your thoughts!