Whether you are trying to lose weight or just maintaining to remain healthy, you always need to be prepared.
No pantry is complete without a few cans or pouches of water-packed tuna. Tuna can help add healthy omega-3 fats and protein to a variety of dishes.
Make sure your pantry is stocked with a variety of beans. Whether dried or canned, beans are an inexpensive alternative to animal protein. They’re also an excellent source of fiber. Serve them as a side dish or add them to soups, omelets, tacos, casseroles, or salads. Thoroughly rinsing canned beans can slash sodium content by 40%.
A family favorite, pasta goes with virtually all meats and vegetables. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to help make meals more interesting. Get more fiber by choosing whole-grain or whole-grain blend pasta.
You’ll want to taste the fruity, peppery flavor of extra-virgin olive oil. Use it to dress salads, and grains. Canola oil performs best in frying pans and woks. Both of these heart-healthy oils lower certain disease risks and are preferable to solid fats like butter. Use either oil to sautée vegetables and meat.
Brown rice is a healthy, high-fiber whole grain. Couscous, bulgur, and farro are available in whole-grain versions, too. These versatile grains complement any meat, fish, poultry, or vegetable as a centerpiece or side dish. Couscous, bulgur, and the seeds of the grain-like plant quinoa can be cooked quickly. For richer flavor, cook grains in broth or stock. Combine them with colorful vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Having canned tomatoes on hand can make life a lot easier when you’re creating quick and healthy meals. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and vitamins A and C. They work in a variety of dishes, like soups and casseroles. And of course, they’re delicious. Spike them with basil and other herbs to use as a quick sauce for meats, pasta, or whole grains. Choose tomatoes with no added salt.
Don’t think of nuts as just a party food. They’re an excellent source of protein, fiber, good fats, and other healthy nutrients. If you regularly eat nuts as part of a healthy diet, you may reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts pair well with sweet and savory foods. Use unsalted nuts in hot or cold cereals or as a meat alternative in pasta, grains, salads, or vegetables. Eat them with fruit or yogurt, in desserts, or as a nutritious snack.
In a perfect world, you’d have time to make your own stock from fresh meat or vegetables. (Homemade stock allows you to control the salt in your cooking.) If you don’t have enough time, buy low-sodium or unsalted chicken, beef, or vegetable stock to add depth of flavor to your dishes. Use it as the base for a quick soup or sauce. Rice and whole grains may taste richer when cooked in stock instead of water.
Rich in nutrients, loaded with antioxidants and fiber, and low in calories, fruit belongs at every meal. Canned fruit (which is just as nutritious as fresh or frozen if canned without sugar or syrups) makes a delicious snack or dessert alone or over yogurt, ice cream, or waffles. Dried fruit adds pizzazz to salads, cereals, and fish, and goes well with nuts for the perfect healthy snack.