Ah, the humble pantry. Not necessarily known as a portal of health in your kitchen. But to that we say move over, canned peas and boxed mac 'n cheese: it’s 2021 and the pantry CAN be a place of wellness!
When we think of “healthy” kitchens, typically visions of fridges bursting with green things dance in our heads. And yes, green things are good. But anyone who has become a little too overzealous in the produce aisle on their weekly shop knows, simply stocking up on veggies isn’t the end-all solution to creating more health and happiness in your kitchen. Each week, we look to our pantries for quick, delicious, comforting goods. It’s a place for shortcuts and ease, which are very good things. But it can also be a place for wonderfully nutrient-dense foods!
Just as humans have evolved, our pantries certainly have, too. While there’s nothing wrong with that box of cookies or jar of tomato sauce, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite healthy pantry staples and highlighted the versatile ways you can use them:
Oats For Every Occasion
Why power your pantry with oats? Put simply, oats are a nutritional powerhouse, known for keeping your heart happy and healthy. Hang with us while we nerd out for a moment: oats are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and contain beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber known to have many health benefits. It has cholesterol-lowering properties, through binding to and decreasing bad cholesterol. It also has prebiotic capacities, meaning it essentially fuels the good microbes in your gut. Beta glucan fiber is also notorious for its ability to manage blood glucose levels, making it a great choice for diabetics. Not to mention, oats move slowly through your body and will keep you satisfied throughout the day.
Oats are considered one of the healthiest grains on earth, and in our opinion they’re one of the most versatile too! There is truly an oat for almost any occasion. Here are some tips to incorporate oats into your routine:
- In a rush? Think quick or rolled oats.
- If you’re looking to up your protein and fiber, try steel cut oats.
- When you want to prepare a meal ahead, you can’t go wrong with overnight oats.
- Thinking about adding some texture to your yogurt or smoothie? Try making homemade granola made from old fashioned oats.
- Try oats in savory dishes, too. They make a great breadcrumb replacement in gluten-free meatballs, and savory oatmeal can be a nice addition to your breakfast--or dinner!-- routine.
- If you have a blender or food processor and are feeling particularly adventurous, oats can be blended into oat flour (great for baking and pancakes) or turned into oat milk.
Pasta has been a pantry staple for many for years, but isn’t exactly notorious for its wide range of health benefits. However, in recent times, legume-only pastas have started to pop up in the dried good aisles of the grocery stores, offering an alternative for those looking for a wider range of nutrients.
There are many types of legume-based pastas on the market made from edamame, beans, chickpeas and lentils. These pastas are notorious for having higher amounts of fiber, protein and nutrients compared to traditional pasta. For context, some legume-based pastas contain up to 25g of protein and 15g of fiber in a 2oz serving! That supplies over 60% of your daily fiber recommendation, while packing a plant-based punch of protein! Here’s the bottom line:
- If you’re a pasta lover, and looking for a way to add more nutrients into some of your meals, legume pastas are the way to go.
- Or if you’re looking to incorporate more affordable plant-based meals into your dinner plan without sacrificing your protein counts, you’ll definitely want to look into adding some of these pastas into your pantry.
Nuts For Nut Butters
Step aside Skippy, there’s a new nut butter in town. If you’ve never tried an authentic nut butter, it’s time to add it to your grocery list. While peanut butter is certainly the OG, there are endless options to suit your taste: nut butters made from almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, and even sesame seeds (hello, tahini!)!
Nut butters are a key addition to any modern pantry because if processed correctly, they retain all of the health benefits of the nut(s) they include. Research shows that eating a small portion of nuts each day can help prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and nut butters are some of the yummiest and most versatile ways to reap those benefits.
- Many nut butters are known for providing a nice balance of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, as well as essential vitamins (A, E and B), and minerals (mainly iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium).
- Just like vegetables, certain nut butters have their own unique health benefits. For example, walnuts are known to have many omega-3 fats and antioxidant properties, whereas almonds are known to contain plenty of heart healthy fats. At the end of the day, each nut butter provides different health benefits, and all of them are generally good for you. So truly, the best place to start is with whatever suits your taste buds!
- Try to choose products that have only one ingredient - your nut of choice. You’ll want to skip out on any added sugars, salts, or oils.
- Key tip: if the product doesn’t require any stirring before use, it’s likely filled with hydrogenated oils which are less than ideal.
Canned Goods CAN Be Good
Lifeless canned veggies and canned fruits in sugary syrup might be a thing of the past, but there’s no reason not to keep some canned goods on hand. Just be sure to look for BPA free cans and opt for low sodium if the option is available. Here are a few easy canned staples we can’t live without:
- Salmon. When it comes to seafood, fresh might be best--but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on canned. Canned salmon is an easy, nutritious and affordable way to include the superfood in your diet without relying on a regular trip to a fish monger. Add it to salads, casseroles, chowders, and patties. Look for brands that are transparent about their fishing practices, and from a nutritional standpoint, know that sockeye has a slight edge over pink salmon.
- Beans. Cooking beans from scratch is delicious, but can be a labor of love--and one you might not have time for when its 6pm on a Tuesday and dinner needs to be on the table STAT. Black beans, cannellini beans, and kidney beans are all versatile, affordable, and often kid-approved staples to keep in your pantry.
- Pumpkin. Seriously, don’t sleep on pumpkin--it is super versatile and good for you! Canned pumpkin (which is entirely different from pumpkin pie filling, so be sure to take a look at that label) is full of fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C and potassium. It makes an easy and tasty addition to oatmeal, smoothies, sauces and soups.
Everipe Smoothie Kits
Yup, that’s right: you can now make a smoothie from your pantry. Everipe smoothies are packed with a variety of real food ingredients, freeze dried at peak vitality so they’re forever ripe. (Hence our name. Clever, right?)
The freeze-dried technology takes most of the water out of our fruits, which allows for a shelf-stable smoothie that you can blend up at any time. This makes our smoothies convenient, but not at the cost of being nutrient-dense. Each smoothie contains a variety of ingredients that provide different essential vitamins and minerals your body requires every day.
For example, in the Coco Mojo Superfood Smoothie Kit, you’ll get nutrients from real foods like mulberries, banana, mango, pineapple, cocoa, almonds, chia seeds, and hemp hearts. It’s as nine-ingredient smoothie straight from your pantry that packs a punch of 9g of dietary fiber and 8g of protein per serving. All while tasting like melty chocolate ice cream. See...your pantry has your back.
In fact, in every Everipe smoothie you’ll find chia seeds and hulled hemp hearts, superfoods packed with soluble fiber, omega-3 fats, and antioxidant properties helping to contribute a healthy gut, lower inflammation, and reduced oxidation. Superfoods can make a great pantry staple on their own, but our smoothie kits take the guess work out of using them.
We hope that these suggestions can help you empower you as we continue to navigate through our ever changing world. With these healthy and practical products, it’s easy to feel good about what's in your pantry. Happy shopping!