March is National Nutrition Month®, which in turn makes it a registered dietitian’s favorite month. Not only does National Nutrition Month® promote proper nutrition, but it also promotes nutrition experts, such as registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). This year the slogan is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” To honor March 9th as Registered Dietitian Day I asked my dietitian friends what are their must have foods in their kitchen pantry’s.
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My top pantry foods are oatmeal, a variety of whole grain cold cereals, almonds and peanut butter. I eat the oatmeal uncooked, mixed in with other cold cereals and topped with a handful of almonds — it is very satiating and stabilizes blood glucose. Peanut butter is for my daily 2 PB & Honey sandwiches. On cold winter days, I cook the oatmeal and mix in a big spoonful of PB.
Oats, coconut water, canned crushed tomatoes, canned albacore tuna, whey protein, pasta (I prefer white pasta and choose my whole grains elsewhere), frozen veggies and fruit (does the freezer count as the “pantry”?). All of these things can last for a while (coconut water, unopened of course).
I always keep Greek yogurt on hand–makes for a nutritious breakfast or snack. And a jar of peanut butter–a source of healthy fat, protein, and fiber. Have a spoonful on an apple or rice cake for a quick snack.
I ALWAYS have non-GMO corn chips. Because I am gluten free, I must have them around in case I need a starch. We eat a lot of tacos and burritos and chili and that’s my substitute for a tortilla. It is also my dipper of choice, for hummus or guac or whatever else is around.
I always try to have plenty of pantry staples I could use to throw together a quick weeknight meal—something simple like pasta, garlic, tomato sauce, and canned tuna. I also like having a variety of different snacks, like tortilla chips and hummus, roasted nuts, cereal, cookies, yogurt, and fruit. Then it’s easy to throw together whatever I’m in the mood for when hunger strikes.
I keep a variety of nuts and nut butters in my pantry. Currently, I have a stock of peanut butter, almond butter, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, and pecans. I love having options to add to my morning Greek yogurt parfait, and nut butter brings satiating healthy fats to a smoothie.
My must have food, hands down, is powdered peanut butter. I seriously have this at least, okay twice, a day! I like to put it on toast, add it to my oatmeal or blend it with soy sauce over my veggies!
My current “must have fave” is roasted chickpeas! I love them by themselves as a snack; I love them on salad; and I love them mixed into trail mix with almonds and dried cranberries or raisins. I keep them in the car so that if I’m getting hungry and want a healthy snack to hold me over till I get to lunch or dinner. I like to roast my own chickpeas (garbanzo beans), but when I don’t have time, I buy Bieno or Saffron Road brands.
My pantry staple is tuna fish. This is my go-to food when I am in a bind because it is so easy and diverse. Just open the can and rinse with water (get rid of excess salt). My favorite recipes are: salsa, avocado and tuna on a salad, tuna patty and tuna sliders (cucumber with tuna and cheese)
I must always have organic coffee on hand! (I read coffee is one of the most highly pesticide-laden products, so I try to limit my intake of inorganic coffee) But it’s hard to find it here in Saipan, so my parents have learned it’s the perfect surprise gift. It reminds me of peaceful mornings watching the wildlife in the back yard with my mom; and of late night conversations of philosophy, theology, and life with my dad.
I could not live without a can of legumes, specifically black beans or chickpeas in my pantry. If I need a quick meal or snack, I eat them mixed with some vegetable and a little olive oil or with just olive oil and cumin for a snack. They can also easily be added to soups and stews to provide a little more protein and filler.
I enjoy eating tasty meals, so…My must have foods in my pantry are a variety of colored beans and legumes, an Indian spice box containing turmeric, cumin both seeds and ground powder with a variety of spices and herbs, garlic, ginger, onions, quinoa, millet, rice, oats, a variety of bean, seeds and grain flours, EVVO, ghee and last but not least good loose tea for my morning and mid-day caffeine. Of course my freezer and refrigerator also have my favorite foods so my “Kitchen is an Instant Take Out Place for Healthy Foods.
I always have on hand sweet potatoes, oat bran, garbanzos, almonds, black beans, salmon and tuna.
And I love sweet potatoes for oat-bran and fruit breakfast cobbler or fat sub in baked goods or just steam-roasted for breakfast. I make hummus with the garbanzos at least weekly, my favorite is one with sun-dried tomato and basil. I also like oven-roasted (skin-on) seasoned (white) potato wedges I eat a handful of almonds daily and have tuna mixed with avocado and salmon weekly. I eat peanut butter for when I need a quick mouthful of instant satiety.
I must always have canned chickpeas and frozen green beans on hand. I have made many different dinners from random veggies in my fridge and these two items.
My top must-have food in the pantry is no-salt added canned tomatoes. Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods. And, this is a great and inexpensive way to enjoy them year-round. My husband & I (both RDN’s) and parents of two children cook the great majority of our meals from home and we use them for at least a couple of meals a week (add them to chili, homemade soups, homemade spaghetti sauce, okra, etc).
Beans, lentils, rice, yogurt, walnuts, salsa, cheese, grapes, bananas,nuts, crackers, cereal and milk for quick and easy snacks.
I love chipotles en adobo (great for chili, lentils, yogurt dip, on eggs, and pretty much everything else),
tahini (for dressings, baba ghanoush, in cookies, and spread on toast), and canned sardines (great way to add an inexpensive serving of fish, plus my toddler daughter LOVES them). I usually keep Polar seltzer on hand, because they have the best flavors. It’s nice to drink something besides water with dinner once in a while.
I love a high quality extra virgin olive oil and a good aged balsamic vinegar, which can make almost any vegetable taste even more delicious.
I love to cook and have about 10 “go to” dishes I can prepare quickly most weeknights. To make sure I have the ingredients, I keep non-perishables stocked in my pantry — canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, canned beans, refried beans, sauces, broths, pasta, grains, nuts, wine (for cooking of course) and all kinds of herbs and spices.
My must haves are oatmeal, peanut butter, and yogurt (I am in love with Siggis). I love that I can have a well- rounded breakfast with two of these three things. I mix a tablespoon of peanut butter in oatmeal for a filling breakfast. And for a great snack I mix a tablespoon into my yogurt with some berries.
I can’t live without a beverage. I love yogi teas, as I find they have amazing flavorful blends. I also combine liver boosting herbs, green tea for mood and energy, and licorice root for gut and flavor. Sometimes I toss together a bunch of chai spices with elderberry for a big immune boost. I also make a lovely gut booster latte with organic creamer, stevia, slippery elm and gelatin powder, and organic decafe.
Anna Gianpetro, Dietetic Student
I must have woven wheat crackers (like Triscuits) in my pantry. Growing up these crackers were always served with my mother’s most luxurious appetizers like baked Havarti wrapped in puff pastry and spinach artichoke dip. You can load these suckers up for a maximal topping-to-cracker ratio and they do a great job of mopping up gooey bits to prevent a mess.
I always keep whole grains and legumes, reduced sodium diced tomatoes & tomato paste, wild caught water packed albacore, mayonnaise, low fat string cheese, Greek God plain yogurt, coffee & red wine.
I keep in my pantry at all times: Bananas, Chia seeds, and cocoa powder. With these three ingredients you can add so much nutrition and flavor to any meal! I make banana ice cream with the frozen bananas, or just eat them as is/with peanut butter! I love chia pudding; it is a go-to snack in our home. I’ve just created Brownie Batter Overnight Oats with my staples.
I cannot live without natural peanut butter! I have showed up 5 minutes late to work because I realized I was out of peanut butter for the day and NEEDED to stop at the grocery store. My boss was graciously understanding!
Janyl Finnerty, RD, LDN & Chef
I always have a supply of oats, nut butters, and frozen berries. I use oats in so many ways, but especially love overnight oats, homemade granola and oat flour in scones. Nut butters make for quick afternoon snacks for my “hangry” kiddos., plus they love 5-ingredient peanut butter cookies with my oat or quinoa flour.
Whole grain pasta- the various shapes have so many uses- shells in soup (see recipe at my website), brown rice linguini with Asian stir-fry, angel hair when I’m in a hurry or when it best suits the dish, etc.
Chocolate in one or more forms- solid dark, Nutella®, and/or truffles may be floating around. From a few chocolate chips in hot cereal, a teaspoon of Nutella® swirled into with sunflower seed butter on waffles, or a truffle with wine or craft beer at the end of the day, I probably have a little bit most days.