Cooking can be tough, especially if you live alone, have an unpredictable schedule, limited kitchen space, or all 3. Trust me, I get it. But having a well rounded pantry makes cooking on the fly a whole lot more realistic by giving you a base with which to prepare a meal, AND keeping healthy ingredients on hand makes it easier to amp up the nutrition in your diet anytime.
To get inspired for a season filled with healthy homemade meals, I consulted my friend and fellow blogger, Monique Otero of Brunchpants. Brunchpants is all about healthy living and “urban survival”, so who better than Mo to provide a list of must-have-in-the-bombshelter pantry essentials?
Check out the 10 basics that help Mo make better food choices and quick meals anytime, and links to some yummy recipes to put those ingredients to work STAT.
1. Chia Seeds
Loaded with nutrients, chia seeds are great for making chia seed jam, chia seed pudding, adding to smoothies, thickening sauces, replacing eggs in vegan recipes and topping granola. 1 ounce of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein on top of having a high amount of antioxidants and Omega-3s. This superfood is a must-have for any healthy pantry.
2. Coconut Oil
One of the best oils to have around because of its long shelf-life, high smoke point and nutritional benefits, plus it adds the best flavor to grains, particularly rice dishes. I also use this as a skin moisturizer or to remove makeup!
4. Almond Butter
I use this for smoothies, on toast, spreading on dark chocolate and raw-food energy bites. Almond butter is also a great way to curb a sweet tooth and get vitamin E and iron. Try my recipe for Dark Chocolate and Almond Butter Cups!
5. Organic canned beans
I prefer garbanzo, kidney, lentils and black beans. All of these are excellent sources of protein and a great way to add fiber to your diet. You can easily puree any of these with a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil and salt for a bean dip, mash into veggie burgers or add to grains with some fresh herbs for a vegetarian meal.
6. Greek Yogurt
Another great vegetarian source of protein, I use greek yogurt in smoothies, popsicles, breakfast bowls and sweetened with a little bit of honey, as a "frosting" for breakfast muffins like these.
7. FROZEN BERRIES
When you don't have access to fresh fruit, using frozen berries is a great alternative for smoothies, adding to yogurt bowls or eating on their own. Natty note: Frozen fruits and veggies are often even more nutritious because they're picked and frozen at peak, rather than ripening off the vine.
I use this for making quick vegetable soups or using instead of water in grain dishes for extra flavor. Natty note: Bone broth is one of the best ways to nourish your body, and making your own is ideal and easier than you think, plus it will keep in the freezer for weeks!
9. Grade "B" Maple Syrup
A healthy and less processed alternative to sugar for sweetening, maple syrup features over 54 antioxidants and rich in manganese and zinc. I add it to plain yogurt, top granola bowls and add to my tea. Natty note: it's also amazing for baking or using in seasonal pumpkin recipes!
10. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds improve digestion, balance hormones and improve metabolism among other things. I use these wonder seeds in smoothies and sneak them into grain dishes and veggie burgers.
Want mo of Mo? Follow her foodporn-ographic Instagram @brunchpants