Hi ladies! Hope you are enjoying the longer days and brighter sun! Inspired by the emerging colors of spring, I’ve decided to take us all on a field trip through the pantry. Inspired by an artist’s color wheel, I’ll offer suggestions of healthy, inexpensive, and durable food items which can save you in a pinch or provide culinary inspiration. Ready? Fasten your seat belts…it’s going to be a colorful ride!
– Kidney beans are a staple in chili, hearty soups, and New Orleans Creole recipes.
– Dried Cranberries are excellent for women’s health and keeping the urinary tract clean. Look for unsweetened. Add them to oatmeal, smoothies, Indian rice dishes, or a rosemary sauce for chicken.
– Jarred tomatoes are healthier than their canned substitutes and make the perfect base for pizza or pasta sauces. Also use them with roasted vegetables, or layer with mozzarella and basil (add olive oil and balsamic vinegar) for a summer caprese salad.
– Sweet potatoes are often confused with yams as both can have an orange hue…nevertheless it’s the sweet potatoes you want for their dynamite nutrients. They keep well stored in a cool dry place. Slice them thin and bake at 400° for some healthy chips, grate them as hash browns, or eat them raw with dips.
– Apple cider vinegar has a myriad of uses and is among the more natural dietary cleansers. Add a splash to boiling apple slices, drain, and add a knob of butter with cinnamon for homemade applesauce. Use another splash in homemade soup stock. Use as a less potent vinegar in salad dressings.
– Dried bananas or mangos make excellent snacks for kids and adults alike. No need to buy the sweetened ones. You can even try dehydrating them at home.
– Honey is a supremely underrated super food which keeps you healthy, happy, sweet, and strong. Bees are an integral foundation for the world’s flora and fauna, while also stabilizing the ecosystems in their 7-mile flying radius.
– Popcorn kernels make a quick and easy snack. Drizzle on Nutella and melted chocolate chips, or add rosemary and lemon zest with black pepper. Leftovers make a great lunch snack. It also keeps kids entertained as the kernels pop on the stove using olive oil and butter.
– Split peas and Lentils are an easy legume from which to make soups. Add past-prime vegetables, chicken stock (or vegetable), and ham or chicken for a week’s lunches.
– Jarred Artichoke Hearts and Capers are great to have on hand for unexpected guests or the serendipitous Friday feta pizza. Spice up scrambled eggs or quesadillas too.
– Pesto is nature’s perfect gift. Healthy, refreshing, and versatile, it can go into mashed garbanzo beans for a homemade hummus, add strong flavors to poultry and fish, or serve as the main course spread on bread and topped with soft brie or mozzarella cheese in the broiler.
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil is great for dipping, making popcorn, or drizzling on sourdough toast with sea salt for an Italian indulgence healthier than butter. Look for “first, cold pressed,” and opt for organic if you can afford it. Italian blends are great, but my favorites are those from Spain or Napa Valley.