A Checklist of Healthy Staples to Always Have In Your Pantry
By Nia Rennix, CCN
In this article:
Many people have been cooking meals at home more than usual. Now, it’s more important than ever to keep your pantry stocked with a healthy variety of staples so you can whip up quick and delicious meals for you and your family.
Here are some of my pantry must-haves, along with how they can give your overall health a boost.
Various healthy grains and flours must constitute a big part of your pantry essentials, especially if you are baking a lot during this time. Always have sufficient stock of wild rice, quinoa, dry whole grain pasta, and flour substitutes like coconut flour, cassava flour, and organic cocoa flour. These are ingredients that come with various health benefits along with a delicious taste. When you feel like making something unconventional with lots of flavor, these are going to be lifesavers for you.
Here are some of the health benefits of my favorite alternative flours.
Coconut Flour: The Perfect Gluten-Free Alternative
Coconut flour is a gluten-free alternative to normal wheat flour and you can use it in your recipes as it comes with various nutrients and benefits. You can bake cookies, muffins, bread, pancakes, and more with this versatile flour, which has the following benefits:
- High fiber content: Coconut flour is rich in fiber, which promotes good digestion.
- Promotes metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar levels: Coconut flour comes with a high content of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium-chain fatty acids. This promotes healthy metabolism and also stabilizes blood sugar levels. It is a food item that is low on the glycemic index and does not cause blood sugar spikes.
- Promotes heart health: It is high in nutrients and helps to maintain good heart health. Coconut flour may help to reduce bad cholesterol and helps the heart due to its high fiber and healthy monounsaturated fatty acid content.
- Helps in weight management: It keeps you feeling fuller longer, which may support weight management.
Cassava Flour: A Good Carb
Cassava flour is made from the chewy, nutty, and sweet tubers of the cassava plant. It is a wonderful substitute for wheat flour and it is gluten-free, too. You can make pancakes, bread, and tortillas with cassava flour. You can also use it to thicken soups or gravies. It also brings the following advantages:
- High fiber content: It promotes digestion due to high fiber content and helps to keep you regular.
- Contains good carbs: Cassava flour is a complex carbohydrate and keeps you full for longer, promoting good health.
- Rich in vitamins and minerals: Being rich in vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, and minerals like calcium and phosphorus, it may help to strengthen various physiological functions of the body.
Organic Cocoa Flour: Chocolate With a Side of Antioxidants
Organic cocoa flour is made by crushing dried cocoa beans and then removing the fat content which is used to make cocoa butter. It is also a gluten-free and organic flour that is highly versatile. You can make muffins, cakes, brownies, fudges, and pancakes with organic cocoa flour. Some of the important health benefits of cocoa flour are:
- Rich in antioxidants: Cocoa flour contains naturally occurring important antioxidants called polyphenols which support good health in various ways. They may reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation, and maintain blood sugar levels.
- Potential blood pressure benefits: Organic cocoa flour when consumed raises the level of nitric oxide in the blood, which may help to regulate blood pressure.
- Heart and brain health: Since cocoa flour may help with improving circulation throughout the body, your heart health, as well as brain health, may get a boost from consuming it.
- May improve mood: Cocoa has the natural ability to convert tryptophan to serotonin. Serotonin acts as a mood stabilizer and helps you to fight against anxiety, stress, and depression.
It’s ideal to stock up on healthy oils that you’ll be able to use to cook your meals with. Other essentials like apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar are pantry essentials that you must not forget. Choose healthy oils like olive oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil to make sure that you are getting sufficient nutrition. Avocado oil, for instance, brings you various health boosters and benefits, which are listed below.
Avocado Oil: A Heart-Healthy Alternative
Avocado oil is extremely simple to use and once you incorporate it into your regular meals, it provides you with excellent health benefits. You can use it as a dressing oil in your marinades, for your smoothies, and even in soups.
- May improves heart health: Avocado oil helps to boost the levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, in the blood and helps to promote proper blood circulation. It has proven benefits in lowering blood pressure and improving heart health.
- Lutein improves eye health: It contains a special antioxidant called lutein which helps to keep your eyes in good condition. Avocado oil may help to reduce risks of cataracts as well as macular degeneration.
- Rich in oleic acid: Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, which is extremely beneficial for the heart. It keeps the physiological functions of the body well-oiled to keeping you in good overall health.
- Provides gum and skin support: Avocado oil may help to fight against gum disease. It may support skin quality and help to expedite wound healing.
Raw Honey: The Sweet Superfood
Opt for raw honey instead of going for regular honey as it comes with various benefits for your health, including:
- Antioxidants: Raw honey contains various antioxidants like flavonoids, ascorbic acid, and phytochemicals. Processing raw honey reduces the effectiveness of these compounds. Antioxidants remove the free radicals in your body effectively, thereby reducing oxidative stress on your health.
- Antibacterial and antimicrobial agent: Raw honey has been used for its medicinal properties for a long time. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of raw honey can help to heal the body.
- Fights common cold and cough: Honey helps a lot to alleviate cough and other throat problems. Honey-infused tea may help to boost immunity and fight symptoms of the common cold.
- Loaded with vitamins and minerals: Raw honey is a nutrient-rich food item containing vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus, which helps to promote overall health.
- Fights inflammation: Honey may help to fight against inflammation in the body, which has been shown to contribute to many diseases and conditions.
It is always valuable to have an array of canned items like tuna, beans, lentils, tomatoes, and coconut milk stocked in your pantry. You can use these to spruce up your meals in an instant. During a pandemic, in particular, it is beneficial to have several varieties of non-perishable food items because you never know what the supermarket supply chains are going to be like.
Dried fruits and vegetables are essential pantry staples. Also, canned fruits are a good item to keep stocked in your pantry. To get rid of some of the sugar, just drain canned fruit with cold water.
Always keep shelf-stable milk or non-dairy substitute on hand, as well as various herbal teas. A cup of hot or cold tea can be exactly what you need to uplift your mood and support your health during this pandemic.
Herbal tea is one beverage that you can drink without feeling any guilt about the excess calories. It strengthens your system from within and soothes you on many levels. Different herbal teas have different health benefits, so depending on your wellness concerns, you can choose the ones to best support you. Look for types with these benefits:
- Boosts immunity: Many herbal teas have immunity-boosting properties and antioxidants which helps you to fight against germs and diseases.
- Muscle relaxer: Some varieties of herbal tea have anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing agents that can work effectively against muscle pains, joint pains, and headaches.
- Heals the stomach: There are herbal teas that can help to ease stomach woes by relaxing the smooth muscles and also by decreasing gas.
- Weight management: There are specific herbal teas that help support weight loss and maintenance, but replacing any sugary or calorie-laden drinks with tea will help in that area as well.
With some careful planning, you can have an assortment of healthy food ingredients stocked in your pantry for when you need them. A well-stocked kitchen means you will always have what you need on-hand to prepare health-supportive and delicious meals for yourself and your family.