Over the past few years, I have been focusing on stocking our home with more shelf stable foods. After losing a refrigerator full of food (more than once) after a power outage, and simply getting tired of watching too-quick expiration dates, it seems to make sense to me to keep more shelf-stable items on hand.
It is all too easy to load up the pantry with junk food, when, in fact, there many healthy pantry foods to keep on hand. So if you too are looking to have a healthy pantry full of shelf-stable foods, here are some items to put on your shopping list:
Note: All of the following should preferably be organic and gmo-free for optimal health benefits.
Spices – Spices are essential to our health, and they can add incredible amounts of flavor to our meals. Garlic, for example, can help to lower blood pressure, normalize cholesterol levels, and fight infection. Cayenne pepper can stimulate metabolism. Cinnamon is excellent for stabilizing blood sugar levels. Turmeric is a health powerhouse with anti-inflammatory properties, and mustard may potentially inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Herbs – Herbs have a variety of medicinal properties. They can come off the vine or in the form of an essential oil. For example, ginger can help with stomach issues such as nausea and indigestion. Oregano can alleviate congestion and help to eliminate viruses from the body. Rosemary can help headaches and reduce muscle tension. Thyme can help with stomach issues too, as well as aid a sore throat.
And in case you were wondering, the difference between spices and herbs is based on which part of the plant they come from. (I had no idea!) Apparently, herbs come from the leafy and green part of the plant, while spices are from other parts of the plant, such as the root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds.
Nuts and nut butters – Nuts and nut butters are high in protein, vitamin E and potassium. They are also high in vital minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. No matter which is you favorite nut or nut butter, each has something healthy to offer. (Almond butter is my personal favorite!) Brazil nuts are high in the antioxidant selenium. Chestnuts contain iron and folate, as well as vitamins C and B. Nuts are high in fat and calories though, so while they offer health benefits they should still be eaten in moderation.
Seeds – Like nuts, seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax are all healthy choices for a well stocked pantry. Flax contains is a terrific source of fiber, and can help to lower cholesterol. Pumpkin and sesame seeds are both high in iron.
Legumes – Legumes are a good source of B-Complex vitamins, as well as itron, potassium and zinc. Some are quite high in protein. They can contain folate, as well as vitamins A and C too. It is believed that a serving of legumes daily may help with weight loss. Plus, they are versatile and can be added to cooked meals, soups and salads too! If possible, look for legumes that come in BPA free packaging.
Broth– Look for low sodium broths, and preferably those that come in a box or glass jar rather than a can (to reduce your exposure to BPA). You can choose vegetable, turkey, chicken or even bone broth to create a quick meal from whatever healthy ingredients you have in the fridge. Use those spices too for added flavor and a healthy flair. (Note that some broths need to be refrigerated after opening.)
Dried fruits – Great sources of iron, potassium, and other healthy minerals, a handful of dried fruit can be consumed alone or add sweetness salads, cereals, and more. Look for dried fruits that have no added sugars or unnatural preservatives. Dried fruits can be quite high in calories, so enjoy them in moderation.
Raw Cacao or Dark Chocolate – It is not a myth that chocolate can enhance your mood. It contains antioxidants too! Depending on your level of sweet tooth, you can satisfy your cravings with one of these items without seeing a spike in your blood sugar.
Coffee – Most of us who reach for a cup to start the day already know that caffeine can increase mental alertness. Coffee is also a bronchial relaxant and can be helpful for those with asthma related issues. Some studies have shown that coffee may reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Green tea – Commonly known as one of the top cancer fighting foods, green tea can also increase the body’s natural defense system. It may also lower cholesterol. Green tea also contains high levels of tannins, which can help fight tooth decay.
Whole Grains – Whole grains provide dietary fiber, and are a source of nutrients such as riboflavin, niacin, iron, and vitamin B. Just make certain to go for healthy, whole grain, preferably gluten-free alternatives such as quinoa, brown rice, kamut, spelt, millet and oats. Quinoa, for example, is a great source of important vitamins and minerals while also being high in protein.
Heart healthy oils– Oils can provide the essential fatty acids needed for hormone production. They also make it possible to absorb vitamins. However, some oils can be high in both fat and calories. Seek out oils that contain little saturated fat, such as extra virgin olive oil, which is the most heart healthy of all the oils.
So, are these healthy pantry foods in your kitchen?
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