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Pantry Basics

Posted on 02/07/2014 by Healthwise

If you're like me what you have on hand will usually dictate what forms the basis of most meals. So, it goes without saying that if the kitchen’s full of healthy food – what you end up eating will be too! Also, not stocking your pantry with junk and processed foods allows you to avoid temptation.

Here are some staples, which are always good to have on hand. This list is certainly not exhaustive:

Olive oil (cold-pressed) – This versatile oil is an excellent source of good quality fat and can be used in all your cooking - drizzle over salads, or use it when preparing stir-fries and baked meals.

Garlic – Delicious, aromatic garlic can be used in any number of dishes and has a long shelf life when stored in a cool, dry place – so you can always have some on hand. Apart from its wonderful flavour, garlic is good for the digestion and boosts immune function.

Brown rice – This complex carbohydrate can be used to bulk out almost any meal, and can form the centre of many tasty recipes. Full of valuable nutrients, high in fibre and low GI, brown rice is a must have for the pantry.

Tamari – Similar in taste to soy sauce, and available in wheat-free varieties for those who prefer it, tamari can be used to flavour any number of dishes - from stir-fries to dipping sauces. It can also be used as an alternative to salt for people wanting to reduce their intake.

Raw honey – If you can get the real (unprocessed) stuff, from markets or directly from an apiarist, raw honey is packed full of benefificial enzymes. While, like any sweet food, it should be consumed in moderation, honey is an ideal alternative to sugar – both as a sweetener and in cooking.

Lentils and other pulses – A good source of protein, magnesium and B-vitamins, lentils are a valuable addition to any adequately stocked kitchen. They can be added to soups, salads, pasta dishes and much more.

Raw nuts – Whether you grab a small handful for a snack or sprinkle them over a salad, raw nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts) can be included into most dishes. They provide a valuable source of good fat, fifibre and protein.

Spelt flour (wholegrain) – This is an excellent alternative to normal baking flour and can be used in exactly the same way. Generally considered better for you than wheat flour (although it still contains gluten), spelt can be used for all types of sweet and savoury baking. Having something like this on hand may also inspire you to experiment with making snack foods at home, such as fruit muffifins and savoury rolls.

It goes without saying that fresh fruit and vegetables should make up a signifificant part of your pantry (and diet!). If you’re having diffificulty getting to the markets or local fruit and vegetable shop, fresh-frozen vegetables are a practical alternative – in this case, some are better than none.

If you’re not used to some of the items listed above, or you’re not accustomed to cooking at home, invest in a good quality cookbook and try a new recipe each week. Or search the internet – it’s an amazing resource for all kinds of food and taste experiments.

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