Stock your pantry with healthy staples

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When hunger strikes and you head to the kitchen to fix a meal or grab a snack, it helps to have healthy foods on hand so you can fill up without filling out your clothes.

Although health experts tout certain “super foods” that are essential for the body, there are many healthy and versatile foods that can be stored in the pantry without spoiling.

Add these pantry staples to your shopping list:

Rice:

As a side dish or in a soup, rice can help satisfy your hunger and keep your stomach feeling full. For a healthier option, choose brown rice. It also stores well, so you can stock up.

Low-fat yogurt:

Rich in calcium and healthy probiotics, yogurt can replace some ingredients, such as cream and sour cream, in recipes. It’s a better dessert option than fattening puddings or ice cream. Thicker varieties, such as Greek yogurt, can help you feel fuller, longer.

Unsalted nuts:

An excellent protein-rich snack, nuts are a great go-to food when you need a nutritional pick-me-up. Nuts are high in fat, but much of it is unsaturated fat that is rich in omega acids necessary for cardiovascular and neurological health.

Canned or dried fruits:

Whether fresh or packed in natural fruit juices, fruits are full of required vitamins and are a good source of fiber to keep digestion in check. Dried fruits can be added to nuts to make a healthy trail mix. Raisins, for example, contain iron, which helps the blood transport oxygen.

Beans and legumes:

These are high in protein as well as fiber. They can replace meats as the protein in a meals, which can reduce caloric and fat intake. Beans can be used to thicken sauces or make foods more hearty, helping to stretch them further.

Vegetables:

Whether fresh or frozen, vegetables are ripe with vitamins and minerals, and are very low in calories and fat. Eat all you want, but aim to have half of your plate filled with vegetables at every meal, which will help keep you full.

Lean protein sources:

Fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat are often the basis for meals. Enjoy them in moderation. Rich cuts of pork and beef may be flavorful but are high in saturated fats.

Lemons or lemon juice:

Instead of salt and butter, use lemon juice as a tasty flavoring. Lemons and limes contain limonene, furocoumarins and vitamin C, all of which help reduce your risk of cancer.

Cranberry juice:

In addition to being an antioxidant, 100 percent cranberry juice helps fight bladder infections by preventing harmful bacteria from growing. Consume it straight or diluted with a splash of water.

Figs:

A good source of potassium and fiber, figs also contain vitamin B6, which produces mood-boosting serotonin, lowering cholesterol and preventing water retention. Think about adding mashed figs to batters for healthier breads or even desserts.

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