Does your kitchen pantry work with or against your healthy eating habits? For most people, it’s likely time for a makeover. Having a pantry stocked with healthy items will not only make cooking meals and preparing snacks easier, it’ll also make eating wholesome food a breeze. After organizing your pantry, consider the way that you store food. Buy bags and containers that allow you to store food in serving-size portions. Stock up on snack, sandwich and quart-size storage bags, airtight containers, cling wrap, twist ties, and measuring cups of varying sizes. After developing an efficient storage and organization strategy, go out and get the following foods to keep your pantry healthy:
Oatmeal is a must-have, but consider nixing the instant variety unless you can find a brand that has no added salt or sugar. Try Quaker Oats’ Old Fashioned Rolled Oats or Bob Mill’s Whole Grain Rolled Oats which take no more than 5 minutes to cook. If oatmeal is not your thing, purchase a whole grain cereal with no added sugar. Shredded wheat is also an option. Adding fresh fruit to oatmeal or cereal is the best way to get a kick of energy-boosting natural sugar. Leave a measuring cup equal to one serving in a box of your favorite cereal or oatmeal to control portions.
Store a host of canned tomato products including whole, crushed, diced or pureed tomatoes. Make your own salsa, pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce instead of buying them prepackaged (a good way to nix added sugar). Another item to add to your pantry is low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock for homemade soup. By making your own soups and sauces, you’ll forgo the added salt and preservatives, and gain a cleaner, fresher taste in exchange. Also, keep beans of different varieties including black, red kidney, and black eyed peas. If you go canned, be sure to get those with no salt added. You might also add lentils and lima beans into your legume experience. Add these to rice cooked in vegetable stock with a variety of vegetables for a hearty lunch. For a great source of protein, keep salmon and tuna pouches handy as well.
Kick instant rice to the curb and opt for parboiled white rice, boil-in-a-bag brown rice or quick-cooking barley instead. Some additional whole grains to have are quinoa and bulgur, both of which can be used in place of rice in most recipes. When cooking with oils, extra virgin olive oil and olive oil cooking spray are mainstays. Spray a pastry brush and coat a frying pan to grill vegetables or cook fish or chicken. Use the oil in salad dressings or toss with pasta. You can also add canola or grape seed oil to your pantry for cooking at higher temperatures as olive oil burns at a lower temperature than these oils.
Fresh garlic is best stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container or storage bag. Jars of minced garlic and ground ginger are fine before opening in the pantry, but need to be refrigerated after opening. Regarding spices, check to make sure they are not expired. A good stash includes garlic and onion powder, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, poultry seasoning, and chili powder.
You can keep nuts, seeds, and dried fruits around for between-meal snacks, but keep the serving size in mind. Just a third of a cup of raisins is 143 calories and almost 38 grams of carbs. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are also high in calories and fat if overdone, so use small storage bags to divide them into single-serve packets. Canned fruits are also a great way to enjoy a sweet treat if the fresh variety is not available. Leave those with added sugar on the shelf and instead find fruits packed in water or in their own juice.
Taking the time to organize your pantry and properly store foods is a simple lifestyle change that can reap big rewards.
(From Calorie Count About.com Blog)