As the New Year influences us to eat better, that means we also need to have better foods in our cupboards!
Here are some must-haves in your pantry for healthy meals and snacks.
1. Nuts and seeds – the perfect healthy snack! Package them up in little 1 oz or 1/2 oz snack bags for proper portion size. Venture out and try some different nut/seed varieties. You can even satisfy your sweet tooth with a honey roasted nut! Have you ever tried pumpkin seeds or pepitas? Pepitas are the edible seed from pumpkin or squash. Try whole pumpkin seed, light and crispy – yum!
Pepitas Pumpkin seeds
2. Canned beans – Always a must for any meal and even perfect for substituting eggs and oil in my favorite brownies cupcakes or fruit pizza! Also remember you can substitute half a pound of hamburger for smashed beans – once you cover with taco seasoning or sauce the family won’t even know it! Taco Dip
3. Popcorn – Ahh, relax and enjoy a movie with popcorn or any time! Popcorn is a wonderful whole grain and is loaded with fiber just watch out what else is added to the ingredients! Now there are some great varieties of microwave popcorn that contain JUST popcorn, oil and salt! And they even taste like they have butter on them but they don’t!
4. Canned pumpkin – I have been venturing out and even adding pumpkin into main dishes! I made millet last night and used pumpkin and chicken stock. You can also add pumpkin to a cheese sauce to add more nutrients or try a tomato sauce – the possibilities are endless! Just like beans you can also use pumpkin in a cake mix instead of adding the eggs or oil! Loaded with Vitamin A – definitely a must!
5. Olive oil – Sautee, vinaigrettes – heart healthy oil loaded with flavor! My favs, garlic-infused olive oil perfect for sautéing or over crusty bread!
6. Whole grain cereals – For snack or breakfast find some whole grain cereals that you enjoy! Look at ingredients and make sure you can pronounce the list. Here are some of my favs –
7. Dried fruit/dark chocolate covered raisins – Add these to your nuts and seeds to make a nutritious snack! I bought dark chocolate covered raisins in bulk and I just add a couple to my nuts and pepitas. A great way to satisfy my sweet tooth! Also try 30 calorie raisin boxes! the perfect portion size! Maybe you don’t care for raisins but have you tried golden raisins?
8. Whole grain crackers- Crunchy whole grain crackers paired with cheese, a great snack to stick to your belly!
9. Whole grain noodles/grains – Of course whole wheat noodles are wonderful but what about trying some new grains? Millet, quinoa, farro, buckwheat, wheat berries and more! Get creative and add to you main dishes and soups!
10. Canned tomatoes – Loaded with cancer-fighting nutrient lycopene, it is another simple must to add to any meal. There are many different varieties that have some great flavor – chili diced tomatoes, Italian diced tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and more! Try fire roasted – wonderful flavor! Easy Chili Mac