10 Must-Have Pantry Staples

Ever wonder how some people can whip up a healthful, tasty meal when the cupboard is bare, and the refrigerator is empty?  You can be that person! Check out this “must have” list of pantry staples that are key ingredients in any number of meals.

  1. Extra-virgin olive oil:  Paired with balsamic vinegar and a dab of Dijon mustard, it makes a fabulous vinaigrette salad dressing.
  2. Whole-wheat pasta: Mix with fresh or canned tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, basil, and olive oil. Throw in a rinsed can of beans for a dose of vegetable protein.
  3. Canned beans:  Kidney, pinto, cannellini, and black beans. They are all good. Drain and rinse beans to reduce sodium content of the canned product. Simmer black beans with garlic and cumin and serve atop brown rice. Add low-fat shredded cheese for extra protein.
  4. Tuna:  Mix drained tuna with low-fat mayo, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and spicy mustard. Or add a can of tuna to a grain or green salad.  
  5. Low sodium broth or stock:  Keep cartons of beef, chicken, and vegetable broth or stock on hand to bring out for a quick soup, sauce, or rice dish. Simmer boneless chicken breasts, canned tomatoes, corn, and black beans in chicken stock for a quick Southwest soup.
  6. Brown rice or any whole grain, such as barley, quinoa, or buckwheat groats:  Make rice or any whole grain with low sodium stock or broth instead of water when cooking, and add garlic, mushrooms, carrots, and onion for a delicious dish.
  7. Canned tomatoes:  A versatile meal-maker for the healthy diet. Puree diced tomatoes with low-sodium vegetable broth for a quick vegetarian soup. Add a splash of milk for added calcium and a creamy texture.
  8. Oatmeal:  Oatmeal for breakfast is a great choice, but do not rule it out for lunch, dinner, or a snack. Make it with milk for a creamy texture and add diced apples and raisins when cooking or top with fresh strawberries and blueberries for wonderful flavor. Use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in recipes like meatloaf.
  9. Nut butters:  Enjoy in a sandwich, with crackers for a snack, or as an ingredient for an Asian-inspired meal. Mix melted peanut butter, low-sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, and minced garlic, and toss with cooked pasta.
  10. Nuts:  Toasted walnuts and almonds make a great snack and add nice flavor and crunch to a fresh salad or pasta dish.

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