Thursday, November 6, 2014

This 'n That Thursdays: Pantry Essentials List

From Park Town Hotel

I love lists.  I love making lists, and I also love lists I find on the Web telling me what I should and should not do.  Not that I always agree with or follow the advice on these lists, but I do enjoy the commandment-like certainty with which the information is presented.  The following list from POPSUGAR of nutritionist-recommended essential pantry items is one that I would tend to use in my own home, especially as most of these foods are already in my pantry.  Take a look, and see if you feel the same way:

From care2

1) Healthy Oils

The list suggests extra-virgin olive oil, light olive oil, and sesame oil as three must-haves for the pantry.  I usually use canola oil when I need a lighter, neutral-flavored oil, but I may just switch to the light olive oil instead.  Many cooks are now using coconut oil for its reputed health benefits (check out this list of those benefits) and I do have a jar, but it has to be refrigerated and I always forget that it is there!

From The Millbrook Independent

2) Vinegars

If vinegar really does help control blood sugar levels then I am all for keeping a variety of flavors in my pantry!  I really love Boyajian maple vinegar, although it can be hard to find in stores, and a good sherry vinegar, which is not so hard to find.

From The Dog's Breakfast (love that name, but I'm just weird!)

3) Canned Tomatoes

Did you know that canned tomatoes are just as desirable nutritionally as fresh ones?  Cooking tomatoes makes the nutrient lycopene more bio-available, and lycopene has anticancer and heart-healthy properties.  I always buy the unsalted versions as I like to control the amount of salt in my foods and actually prefer very little salt.


4) Canned Beans

I wish I was the sort of person who could cook up a pot of dried beans perfectly, but the fact is that I rarely have much success.  Most of the time the beans are still hard, no matter who long I cook them, or if I presoak or not.  This is probably because the dried beans I am using are too old, but how do I know how old the beans I buy really are?  No, I much prefer to use canned beans, because that way I get properly cooked beans with all the benefits of legume consumption and none of the time-consuming hassles.  It is even possible to find lower-sodium and sometimes even no-salt-added versions, which are my preference.

From Pointerior

5) Dried Herbs and Spices

According to the list, dried herbs and spices have more antioxidants than almost any other food.  I did not know this, but I love using herbs and spices and this will just encourage me to use them even more often.  Now I no longer have to feel guilty about using dried rather than fresh herbs, but I do need to remember to throw out expired bottles and replace them with fresh ones on a regular basis.

From Web Health Watch

6) Whole Grains

According to my sister, who is pre-diabetic, whole grain products, as opposed to their more refined counterparts, are acceptable in limited quantities even for people who must restrict carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates in the diet have become quite controversial lately (read a quick and relatively unbiased review here), but for those who choose to eat them (and I am one of those) whole grain pantry staples such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pastas are the better option.

From Yoder's Country Market

7) Honey, Maple Syrup, and Molasses

Sugar has really taken a bad rap lately, and probably rightly so as this ingredient is far too ubiquitous in the Western diet.  In my opinion, the best way to cut back on sugar consumption is to read labels and avoid processed foods that tend to have too much sugar in any form, including high fructose corn syrup.  However, if you are preparing your own food and feel the need to add a bit of sweetness, choose a less refined sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or molasses, all of which contain a few extra nutrients.

From Wellness

8) Nuts and Nut Butters

I have always loved nuts (the edible kind, that is, although other types can be lovable as well!), but when I was young nutritionists warned against eating too many because of the high fat content.  The good news is that now we are actually being encouraged to eat these satisfying flavor powerhouses because their antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats help protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Raw nuts or those prepared with little added fat and salt are preferable.  Be careful when choosing nut butters, as many contain hydrogenated (trans) fats and/or added sugar (also read the label to check for salt content).

From A Latté with Ott, A

9) Mustards

In addition to packing a lot of low-calorie flavor into a small serving, mustards have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and heart-healthy properties.  While I am not a big fan of mustard, we always have several on hand because my husband loves this condiment.  Occasionally even I feel the need to use mustard, either on a sandwich or in a recipe I am making.

From Nutritional Outlook

10) Sauces

Sauces can be tricky as they are often full of sodium and/or sugar.  Like mustard, however, a small amount of sauce usually goes a long way in terms of flavor impact, so we do keep a supply of these condiments on hand to use sparingly.


I keep most of these items on my shelves, even though some of them are not high on my list of essentials.  I would have to add canned tuna, canned pumpkin, and unsalted chicken stock to the list, and if I were being completely honest, some sort of chocolate (preferably Lindt Lindor truffles) as well!  I also have an entire pantry shelf devoted to all sorts of packaged teas.

So what do you think?  Are any of these foods essential pantry staples for you?    What would you add to or subtract from the list?  (And what would you keep on the fall bucket list at the top of the page?)  Lists are so much fun!

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