EATING HEALTHY: What’s in Your Pantry?

By JOANN BISHOP, CSCS  

Director, Health and Wellness                                                                                                

Actor Alec Baldwin likes to ask, “What’s in your wallet?” in advertisements for a credit card company.   If you are relying on takeout and prepared food, you may ask “What’s in my pantry?”   A well-stocked pantry creates a healthy meal in minutes, saving you time and money.

Pick a day to inventory and restock your pantry.   The best day is before you shop for groceries. That way you can inventory and make a shopping list.   You want to have on hand at all times a supply of easily prepared staple foods.

Canned goods on hand should include tomatoes, marinara sauce, beans, vegetables, canned broth, fruit, milk, salmon, tuna and peanut butter.

Dry goods on hand should include powdered milk, rice, oatmeal, grains such as couscous, quinoa, or bulgur, beans, lentils, pasta, olive or vegetable oil, flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.

A few supplies to keep on had.  Photo by Evelina Zuni Lucero
A few supplies to keep on had. Photo by Evelina Zuni Lucero

Seasonings to have on hand are salt, pepper, garlic salt or powder, and some favorite dried spices such as oregano, basil, cinnamon or nutmeg.

When cooking grains or beans, especially whole grains that take a while, cook up a big pot and freeze one or two cups of grain in labeled containers. You can add frozen grain or beans to soups or stews and they will defrost as they cook.

Emergency Soup:

1 cup cooked rice or beans

1 can vegetables, i.e.,  corn, green beans, mixed, etc.

1 can tomatoes

Add seasonings to taste, but do not add salt.   The canned vegetables have plenty of salt.   You could add little pieces of leftover meat if you have any on hand.

Challenge taste:   Try a new grain!   Have you ever cooked quinoa, couscous or barley?

Basic Quinoa:   1 cup quinoa +2 cups water.   Boil water, lower heat and add quinoa.   Cover pan and cook on low heat about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.   (Rinse quinoa in plain water before cooking)

Basic Couscous:   1 cup couscous + 1-1/2 cup water.   Boil water, add couscous, cover pan and take it off heat with cover on the pan.   Stand 10-15 minutes and fluff grain with a fork.

Basic Barley:   1 cup barley + 2 cups water.   Boil water, add barley, cover pan and cook on low heat about 30 minutes.

Brown Rice:   1 cup rice + 2 cups water.   Boil water, add rice, cover pan and cook on low heat about 45 minutes.

Seasonings add “flair” to any meal, experiment and create your own mixes.   It’s best to add seasonings sparingly while cooking and add more if the taste calls for more.

  • Indian flair:   1 teaspoon dried garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried onion powder, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon.   Combine in a small container with tight fitting lid.
  • Asian flair:   1 teaspoon dried garlic, 1 teaspoon dried onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried ginger. Combine in a small container with tight fitting lid.
  • Eastern flair:   1 teaspoon dried garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin.     Combine in a small container with tight fitting lid.
  • Mexican flair:   1 teaspoon dried cumin, 1 teaspoon dried onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes.     Combine in a small container with tight fitting lid.

Rub dried seasonings into meat before cooking, or add a teaspoon or two to cooking grain or beans and enjoy a cultural feast!

(Featured  Photo by Rita J. Lucero)

Copyright © IAIA CHRONICLE 2013

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1 Response
  1. Guido

    When buying canned tomato sauce, always make sure to get the one with No Sugar added, lower in sodium and all Natural ingredients (organic is best). Be aware of labels reading “natural seasonings” as it could include MSG.

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