Katie's Healthy Bites: Pantry Must-Haves

A healthy pantry is the building block for any wholesome meal. For some inspiration, I wanted to share what I keep in my pantry so I'm prepared on busy days when there's not a lot of meal-planning time.
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A healthy pantry is the building block for any wholesome meal. For some inspiration, I wanted to share a peek inside my kitchen's pantry. This is what I always have on hand so I'm prepared on busy days when there's not a lot of meal-planning time.

MY PANTRY MUST HAVES:
    • Low-Sodium Stock (usually vegetable or chicken) – Great to add as a flavoring ingredient when cooking rice or grain, deglazing a pan or throwing together a quick soup (soups are a perfect for a clean-out-the-fridge meal -- to use up veggies before they go bad)
  • Roasted Peppers (packed in water) – I love roasted peppers! They're a wholesome, colorful addition to any meal (even a salad). I keep some around for when company stops by and I need a simple appetizer. Serve them with bread, hummus or pureed with a can of beans and cut-up veggies for dipping.
  • Airplane Bottles of Wine – I open a bottle of wine to cook with and it always goes to waste. I was so excited when I found the small, airplane bottles at the store. This is the perfect amount for most recipes, and no guilt attached for wasted vino!
  • Dried and Canned Beans – Dried beans are a healthy addition to soups, salads and sides. If I have time, I cook them from scratch. When I am in a pinch, a can of rinsed beans does the trick.
  • Bulk Grains (usually millet, quinoa, amaranth and brown rice) – Buying bulk saves lots of money and dried grains keep well. I store my grains in sealed bags and containers. If I don’t use them often, they will stay fresh in the fridge for months.
  • Dijon Mustard – You will always find an open bottle in my fridge and some spare bottles in the pantry. Dijon is low-calorie and can work in most anything, as far as I'm concerned.
  • Canned Tomatoes – Stock up on these because you never know when you will need to make basic pasta sauce.
  • Olive Oil – This is almost all I cook with! Experiment with olive oils from all over the world (Greece, Italy, and Spain are good places to start) -- to taste the variations.
  • Sesame Oil – As with most oils for the calorie conscious, a little bit goes a really long way. This is one of my favorite Asian flavors.
  • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce - I use soy sauce instead of salt in a bunch of recipes. It has a more complex flavor than table salt and gives my dishes more unique depth.
  • Sea Salt – We get tons of sodium from packaged food, but sea salt is more wholesome, loaded with nutrients and packed with flavor. But again, a little goes a long way! Try this instead of iodized salt, which has been stripped of most nutrients and is not nearly as flavorful.
  • Peppercorn Medley – I like to keep different colors (green, pink, black, etc.) peppercorns mixed together in my grinder. The variety of flavors add dimension to the dish I'm prepping.

Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, owns HealthyBites, LLC and is a finalist on season five of The Next Food Network Star, which premieres June 7 on Food Network.

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