I began my healthy eating journey about four years ago when I started doing Weight Watchers. There were a lot of things I liked about that program (and some I didn’t), but I did take away a very important lesson that I still use to this day: You need to keep your kitchen stocked with healthy choices, because if you don’t, you’re going to struggle a lot more with eating right. Now I have to be honest, I am not perfect and I struggle as much as the next person to not eat an entire jar of chocolate chips or stuff my face with peanut butter. But it’s kind of hard to binge eat Cheetoes, ice cream and cookies when you don’t have any in your kitchen. So I decided to write a few posts about how I stock my kitchen, and today I’m focusing on the pantry!
These are some of the pantry staples I like to keep stocked in my kitchen, and I use most of the ingredients regularly in my recipes or as snacks between meals. Most of the items I bought at Sprouts (I’m all about buying things from their bulk section!), but others are from Walmart or Kroger.
When I’m trying to bake healthier alternatives, I love using almond flour and coconut flour as alternatives to regular flour. I use stevia every once in a while (I’m not crazy about the aftertaste), but it’s nice to have on hand when I want to sweeten something without using a ton of sugar. I use the flax to add a little fiber to my baked goods, and a little goes a long way! My favorite thing to use is coconut oil, because it has so many health benefits and I love the yummy coconut flavor it gives my baked goods.
*These items are in addition to the sugar, brown sugar, flour and whole wheat flour I also use.
Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit
I’m grouping these foods together because although they are healthier choices, they are still high in calories, fat and sugar. I try to limit how much of these foods I eat, but hey… they’re better than eating empty calories, right?
I like to keep a variety of these items in my pantry, so I can add them to recipes when I want to or make trail mix for snacks throughout the week (like my Blueberries and Cream Trail Mix). My favorite nuts to keep on hand are walnuts, mixed nuts, pine nuts, cashews (Isaac’s favorite) and pecans (when we’re feeling rich). As for seeds, I love chia seeds and sunflower seeds! The dried fruit I keep stocked depends on how I’m feeling at the store, but it usually consists of cranberries and blueberries. This week I decided to get some dried mango, and I like getting dried apples or pineapples every once in a while too.
These are my favorite pantry essentials (shocker, right?). I use these items when I make breakfast or desserts to satisfy my never-ending sweet tooth. I always have some shredded coconut, dark chocolate chips and granola on hand. I also love using honey, real maple syrup or my favorite, Agave 5, to drizzle on my protein pancakes in the morning.
Agave 5 is something I stumbled upon while shopping in Sprouts a while ago and I use it all the time! It’s agave syrup mixed with stevia and is only 5 calories for 1 tsp. It adds just enough sweetness to my recipes and there’s no yucky aftertaste I normally get from stevia.
Oil and Vinegar
I use olive oil for all of my cooking. It’s a more nutritious option to using vegetable oil, and I like the extra hint of flavor it gives my food. Apple cider vinegar is a new favorite of mine. I have come across some of the most random recipes that use ACV (like pie dough) and it works! I also like to use it for marinating my meat or mixed with some olive oil as a dressing on my salads. I don’t use balsamic vinegar as much, but it goes great with roasted vegetables, marinades and as another easy salad dressing.
Grains (and protein powder…)
I try to not eat as much bread as I did growing up (even though it’s so so good), mostly because I know it’s not that great for me and once I start eating it, there’s no stopping! So instead I opt for more nutritious options like wild rice, brown rice or quinoa (which is actually a seed, but acts as a grain). One of my favorite pastas lately is the Ancient Harvest brand, because you can’t even tell that it’s made with quinoa and corn instead of wheat like normal pastas! I also use a lot of rolled oats or quick oats in my breakfast recipes, and sometimes blend the oats to make oat flour that I use in my baking too.
I didn’t really know what group to place my protein powder in, so I decided to put it with these. I buy my protein in bulk at Sprouts and use a huge container to store it in. I love this protein, because it is just straight up protein- no sugar, flavors or additives. Right now I’m using soy protein, but I’ve also bought the whey protein in the past. Basically I get whatever’s cheapest at Sprouts that day!
Well there you go! If you have a pantry staple you can’t live without, let me know what it is in the comments. I’d love to check it out.