What’s in your pantry? (Part 1)

Now that you’re going all natural and buying local, let’s see how we can get fit by retrofitting your pantry.
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Okay, we’re not really going to bust out a wall or change your outdated shelf liner paper, but we are going to give a mini overhaul to some of those common (unhealthy) items hidden behind your pantry door.

A lot of these tips came from “Pantry Raid,” an article in the April 2010 issue of Fitness magazine, and with my recent spring cleaning of our kitchen pantry, I thought June the perfect time to spruce up—and “health” up—those non-refrigerated items. A few of these tips seem common sense, but even those of us with a little common sense can use a refresher!

Tip #1: Broth

Stock up on low-sodium chicken broth and toss the high-sodium stuff. This goes for your other broths as well (beef, vegetable, etc.). I love my organic chicken broth from Costco, but I’m going to have to check and see if it’s low-sodium as well. If not, perhaps I can do half and half when using it in recipes.

Tip #2: Bread crumbs

This one is new to me and I can’t wait to try it! Replace those regular bread crumbs with pinko bread crumbs. Apparently they are about half the calories but are also “lighter and coarser, [so] they tend to absorb less oil and fat.” Oh, and it has about one-tenth the sodium. Good enough for me!

Tip #3: Dip mixes

Instead of those creamy, decadent ranch and onion dip mixes, try a half cup of salsa verde (the green kind). You’ll find that half cup has only 60 calories and is a great source of niacin, which helps lower cholesterol.

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Tip #4: Pasta

Here’s another new one for me: buckwheat noodles. I’ve been buying whole wheat pasta, which my family loves, but apparently there’s an even healthier option. Soba, a product made with buckwheat (I can’t say that word without thinking of The Little Rascals), are higher in fiber, loaded with antioxidants and are a great source of plant protein. Oh, they’re also more filling so you’ll eat less. Um, eating less pasta is definitely an easy way to fit in some fitness!

Tip #5:  Flour

Fortunately I’m doing something right! If you don’t have whole-wheat flour in that pantry of yours, stock up on a couple bags. (I have a huge container of the stuff.) Substituting whole-wheat flour for up to half of the white flour in recipes adds fiber to the dish and makes cookies, cakes and breads more dense. The higher density means you’ll feel fuller so you won’t reach for seconds!

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Tip #6: Oil

I bet you’re already familiar with the benefits of canola oil so I needn’t tell you to toss that vegetable oil sitting in the back of your pantry. Canola oil has a good dose of those fabulous omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s mild flavor combined with a high smoking point makes it ideal for sauteing and stir-frying. BUT if you’re going for salad dressings or cold dips, go for that other heart-healthy oil: olive oil (or as Rachael Ray likes to call it, EVOO). This baby is a nice source of monounsaturated fat, and that monounsaturated fat helps curb your appetite!

I’ll be back next week with Part 2 and the last five tips from this series. Until then, out with the old (unhealthy) pantry items and in with the new (healthy)!

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