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Eight Pantry Must-Haves

To cook healthy for your Katy family, your pantry must be stocked with healthy ingredients. Here is a quick list of the items you’ll turn to as you begin to cook healthier dishes for your family. Having them on hand makes last-minute decisions for dinner better choices. If the only thing available to grab and fix is wholesome, the likelihood of “falling off the health wagon” is decreased.

1. Chicken, vegetable, and beef broth (low in fat and sodium are best) – You’ll need broths for veggie dishes, soups, casseroles, and sauces. Always have a few cans or boxes of each on hand. Our bodies are benefited by the high concentrate of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur found in meat broths.

2. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans – The three choices listed are the healthiest choice – these nuts contain monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, protein, and fiber, and are rich in antioxidants – they help prevent heart disease and lower bad cholesterol. Plus, they fill you up and make a great ingredient in many dishes – rice, salads, baked goodies, and as a simple snack.

3. Whole wheat pasta – There are plenty of varieties available now: stock spaghetti, elbows and penne. Pasta dishes made with veggies and chicken or fish are healthy, and are simple one-pot dinners for the whole family.

4. Beans, all different varieties (black, cannellini, and chickpeas are our favs.) – Beans are so rich in protein, dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates (energy givers), and provide good fats for the body. Beans can be used in sides, soups, salads, and casseroles. For easy preparation, used canned varieties.

5. Truvia, honey, and stevia (for baking, use Splenda) – Hot debate swirls around “fake” sweeteners constantly, but rest assured, choosing and stocking one or all of these choices is a good decision. All of them are better for your body than sugar, hands down. They will add flavor and sweetness to your cereals, baked goodies, desserts, and fruit dishes – without the toxic damage of processed sugar.

6. Canned tomatoes – crushed, diced, paste and sauce – Select low sodium varieties, and use these Lycopene-rich fruits as a staple for soups, casseroles, veggie sides, and other dinner dishes. The rich levels of Lycopene in tomatoes work to stave off cancers, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

7. Whole wheat or grain bread – Bread isn’t good for us unless it is whole wheat or whole grain – enriched flour and breads are still processed, and not good for us. Use this healthy staple in sandwiches, for morning toast, or as a filler in favorite dinner dishes, such as meatloaf.

8. Olive oil, pan sprays, sunflower oil – Cooking with these lowfat and naturally healthy oils is a winner every time. They contain vitamins E, K, and A, as well as other powerful antioxidants, which are anti-inflammatory agents in the body. Use to cook with, or in salad dressings and marinades, and in bread dips.

Of course, this is a simple list with easy explanations for use of these items in your family’s healthy cuisine. Use your imagination and creativity to explore other uses and options for these staples  and be sure to share them with us. Here’s to simple family health from your Katy kitchen pantry.

Keeping your pantry stocked with healthy food items helps you to make better meal and snack choices!
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