Monday, November 14, 2011

Pantry Staples for the Healthy Eater

Oh, Monday! This girl is tired. Being at least seven months pregnant is certainly starting to take a toll on my body. It's true that we trekked about this weekend, spending some time in the city and in the outskirts at my sister's's probably the last time I'll run about before Baby is born. I'm definitely feeling it. Getting up to teach 6AM was a struggle, but I did it, although I modified a little more than usual. It's difficult because my brain wants to keep my body working as hard as it's used to, but my body is saying "woah, Momma...slow down." And I do, as much as I can. (I'm generally not one to like lounging about, if you couldn't guess that.)

So today, since I'm "taking it easy," I thought I'd wrap up the "What can I eat that's healthy?" series with a bonus round. But first, make sure you're caught up:

Part 1: Breakfast
Part 2: Lunch
Part 3: Dinner
Part 4: Snacks

All caught up? Good...let's get to the bonus round.

Pantry Staples for the Healthy Eater
If you aim to eat healthy on a regular basis, you are probably prepping a lot of meals at home. Therefore, stocking your refrigerator, your pantry and maybe even your freezer with good-for-you ingredients is a clutch move you can't afford to NOT make. Without knowing your individual tastes or dietary needs, I'd like to offer you the following list of pantry staples for the healthy eater. A select group of versatile basics you just might want to keep on hand.

Nut Butter
Sure, it tastes good on toast. And apples. But it also pumps up a bowl of oats, and you can certainly use it in cookie and granola bar recipes. To find an decent option, all you have to do is read the ingredients. There should be two: Peanuts and salt. No added oils or sugars (save those two ingredients for the occasional splurge-worthy, flavored nut butters).

Black Beans
Hello, protein! Grab a can filled with the low-sodium variety. Be sure to rinse the beans whenever you use them. And you can use them in quite a few different dishes. Like soups and on top of salads. You can even make hummus with it. Considering the health benefits of these little guys, considering that one can might set you back a's totally worth it to stock up.

Plain Greek Yogurt
Works wonders in place of sour cream in your favorite recipes. Or as a thickener in smoothies. You can even eat it straight up with some fruit. Don't like the sour flavor? Add a splash of vanilla or some cinnamon to spice things up. 

Chia Seeds
Omegas, omegas and omegas! These little buggers top well on yogurt and oatmeal dishes. Just sprinkle like salt, it's so easy to use them. You can also make an egg-like substance that can replace typical eggs in all of your favorite baking recipes. Combine three tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of Chia seeds and you've got yourself one "egg."

Fresh Black Pepper
The kind you grind up. Fresh black pepper makes every savory dish better, and it stops you from reaching for that salt shaker. Head to the store and find yourself the coolest pepper grinder ever, then prominently display it wherever you eat your meals. You just might break that salt habit yet!

Oh, honey. Get yourself some! It sweetens oatmeal and smoothies alike, and can be used in a number of your favorite recipes. And it's much better for you than white table sugar. Don'tcha think? Try and find some local honey if you can. And if you can't, just make sure you get pure honey.

Olive Oil
The best oil ever! Beats butter in a pan, that's for sure. I like to mix it with Balsamic vinegar and other seasonings to create a delicious, low-cal salad dressing. You can buy it cheaply, or spend a little more and get one that's all fancy schmancy. I keep mine in a glass bottle with a pour top for easy use.

Fruits and Veggies and Greens
I know, duh. But the more of the fresh stuff you have on hand, the more likely it is that you'll use it. Think salads, parfaits, smoothies, omelettes...raw snacks, even. I could go on forever. Produce isn't exactly cheap, so if you spend your hard-earned money on it...I mean, do you really want to have to throw it away? My favorites include bananas, blueberries, apples, green peppers, sweet onions, lettuce and kale (or Swiss chard).

I could go on and on with this one, but the above are most definitely my favorites.

Question: What are your pantry staples?

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