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The healthy pantry makeover

Faced with a choice between cooking a healthful meal and ordering out, many weary (or wary) cooks will opt for take-out. But with take-out they can be taking key nutrients out of their diets. If you have your local eateries on speed-dial, you could be under-nourished and overspending. A smart pantry makeover will put nourishing meals and wholesome snacks within your reach.

Open your cupboard. Is it bare as Old Mother Hubbard's? Do you see a castle of untouched cans? A spice rack gathering dust and losing flavour? Individual tastes may vary, but for a robust, useful cupboard, fill up on the following staple items. Mix and match: They can become the fixings of many a quick snack or hearty meal.

Essential elements

These are the go-to items that pull everything together.

  • oils and vinegars that are low in saturated fats
    • olive oil
    • canola oil
    • balsamic vinegar
  • herbs and spices
    • oregano
    • basil
    • dill
    • sage
    • thyme
    • peppermint
    • salt and pepper
    • rosemary
    • garlic
    • ginger
  • sweeteners
    • honey
    • blackstrap molasses
  • grains, nuts, seeds
    • sesame seeds
    • pine nuts
    • oats
    • granola

Meal makers

The meal makers are those items that bulk up or provide the base for lunches and dinners.

  • broths and soup stock
  • rice
  • pasta
  • dried beans

Can do

Canned foods are affordable pantry standbys. Long shelf-lives make them convenient and handy in a pinch. Closely eyeball the labels to monitor salt, fat, and sugar content, and try to choose the ones with the simplest list of ingredients.

  • canned tomato sauce or paste
  • canned beans: garbanzo, black, navy, kidney
  • canned seafood: salmon, tuna, crab

Snack shack

Nutritious snacks are a necessity. For a boost of energy or just to fill in the gaps between meals, stash away some of the following wholesome, bite-sized treats.

  • sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • almonds, walnuts, peanuts
  • peanut butter
  • popcorn
  • dried cranberries, apricots, sun-dried tomatoes
  • whole-grain crackers

Ways to wash it all down

The cupboard can be home to a few beneficial beverages.

  • green tea (has antioxidants that fight, and may even prevent, cell damage)
  • mint tea (may help in digestion and soothe the stomach)
  • hot chocolate (dark chocolate may protect against heart disease)

Shady foods

Some foods thrive in the shadows. For vegetables, this precaution prevents sprouting. For other food items, it's just a matter of preserving freshness and flavour.

  • potatoes
  • yams and sweet potatoes
  • onions
  • coffee
  • dried herbs
  • garlic

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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