NUTRITION: MY PANTRY STAPLES + BUILDING A DREAM PANTRY
I love a well stocked pantry, and only wish I had an actual pantry to make all my dreams come true! One day, and until then I will gain inspiration + objects to beautify and organize my cupboards in the new loft we move into next month!
I have so many memories as a child that involved our beloved pantry. It's as if it held all of my dreams, and they had come true. My mama was the queen of stocking the pantry, and every time we opened it, it fed us in every way. Times have changed though, and what used to make me excited ( Iced tea, arrowroot crackers, cereal and candy) is no more. What I long for, and what I fill my cabinet with is night and day from my childhood years, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Jars of dehydrated seasonings, teas and tonic herbs, healthy fats, active honey and canisters of lentils and grains stand at the ready to feed me throughout the colder seasons at hand. With each shelf an altar to health and home, cooking becomes a ritual, not a chore, and the meals that give way satisfy more than just our hunger. Here are some tips and tricks about stocking up for the winter and building a healthier pantry.
Hopefully this inspires you to do some reorganizing, and maybe adding a few things into your repertoire to bring health, happiness and light into your daily life.
Take a cue from Marie Kondo and begin by clearing the clutter. She might suggest to hold each item and ask yourself if it brings you joy. You might also ask if you will, for real, ever cook with it. Does it serve you? Deliver beauty and radiant health? Check expiration dates. Be ruthless. Compost or donate what you can and know that by making space you will ultimately create a kitchen with less waste and open the portals to more high vibrational cooking.
The New Basics.
The staples you keep are, of course, a matter of how and what you like to cook, but on my path of eating a more nutrient-dense and plant-based diet, there were more than a few new and old favorites. Let’s call them my high-health essentials. Here are just a few of my must-haves and how I love to use them.
Coconut Flakes. Buy them in the bulk aisle and keep a canister of these to make a quick coconut milk with no soaking time required, and coconut flakes are far less expensive than nuts.
Nutritional Yeast. It’s parmesan for the plant-based world and it’s the ticket to a great vegan Caesar salad or bowl of zucchini noodles. Also great on popcorn! Some Candida-fighters choose to avoid this. Others believe it has no effect on Candida and welcome its high content of minerals, amino acids and B vitamins.
Apple Cider Vinegar. My hold grail, I use this for everything, even in my bath for super smooth skin (it balance PH!) With more reported health benefits than I can list here, ACV is the perfect substitute for most vinegars. Add a teaspoon to hot water for an alkalizing morning tonic. It aids digestion, steadies blood sugar and can even lower blood pressure.
Coconut Aminos. A soy-free and gluten-free alternative to Soy Sauce, Coconut Aminos surpass the take-out staple in every way. Not only is the umami flavor deeper and more refined, Coconut Aminos are vastly lower in sodium and boast health benefits that will have you reaching for the bottle at every turn. Probiotics, B Vitamins and an impressive roster of vital Amino Acids are just the beginning. If you lean heavily on Soy Sauce, give this upgrade a go.
Avocado Oil. The oil from Avocados, what could be more magical? It boasts the same health properties as avocados - rich in Vitamin A, C, E super high in antioxidants, especially glutathione, which is thee antioxidant when it comes to steering off free radicals. I use it for roasting vegetables as it has the highest smoke point, even higher than coconut oil, in salads as it's so creamy, and on my skin (!)
Tahini. Nothing more than ground sesame seeds, this high hippie staple may be the single greatest thing to ever happen to a big bowl of steamed vegetables, and salads. Simply whisk with lemon juice, salt and a touch of water for a simple sauce that delivers healthy fats, protein and grounding comfort.
Matcha. I love matcha, and don't always have it in my cupboard, but want to bring it back into regular rotation. A Japanese green tea that is ground and used whole, Matcha compounds the benefits of steeped green teas and delivers a calm, energized focus. I drink it neat, add it to my smoothies, milks and tonics, add it to chia puddings with a pinch of cinnamon and even use it in raw chocolate.
Tonic Herbs. These aren't for everyone and are not a necessity, but they are a staple in my cupboards and really are life changing. My favorites include: he shou wu, ashwagandha, ahitaba, anandamide (blend of medicinal mushrooms, herbs + raw cocao), maca and spirulina. Adaptogenic herbs and the delicious tonic drinks I make, or the smoothies I add them too, take my liquids to the next level. Create a ritual around these drinks and crowd out your need for excessive caffeine, sugar, alcohol or even cigarettes.
Medicinal Mushrooms. Another vast topic worthy of its own story. Medicinal Mushrooms including Reishi, Cordyceps and Chaga can fortify the immune system, reduce stress in the body and even increase respiratory capacity. Each with its own energetic and nutritional profile, these mushrooms can be added to your tonics, smoothies or broths. With a nutty, earthy taste they also mix well with cacao and even coffees.
Chickpea or Coconut Flour. These are two of my favorites when I use flour, which isn't too often. I eat gluten-free, so the only place I would use these for would be if I'm baking something, which again isn't very often :) I'm not a baker, but once and awhile I'll get the urge and desire to whip up banana muffins, loaf or a seasonal muffin.
Red Lentils. Another cold weather favorite, a simple red lentil dahl is the key to a warming and satisfying winter bowl. Just add to quinoa or brown rice, with a big side of steamed vegetables, kale and kimchi. It simmers for just half an hour with no soaking required so it’s the perfect answer for a weekday meal.
Oats. A warming, soothing and nourishing breakfast on those cold, cold winter mornings. Loaded with protein (over 6grams per cup), rich in fiber, magnesium and a multitude of minerals. I cook them on the stove top with water, pinch salt and lots of cinnamon. When they are close to being cooked I add in some coconut milk for added creaminess and satiating. Top with any nuts, seeds, butters and fruit. My favorite include bananas, berries, pumpkin seed butter, pumpkin seeds, bee pollen....
Chia seeds. I adore these little seeds. Rich in omega 3's, utterly satiating and nourishing, this little seeds can be used for almost anything. I make chia seed puddings with them for breakfast, add them to smoothies, sprinkle into oats, use as a 'egg' for baking, their uses are endless really. You can even make chia water for a pre or post workout drink, as it contains lots of protein, and omega's for muscle repair and regeneration.
Manuka Honey. This New Zealand wonder is loaded with natural antibacterial properties but unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, it does not encourage resistant bacteria. I use it topically as a skin cleanser or mask or
Salt. I always use pink himalayan. Pink Mountain Salt is as close as it comes to an all purpose salt, great for cooking, baking and finishing. With a slightly coarse texture, it’s delicious in baked goods, melts easily into cooked foods and sits perfectly on top of salad. Harvested high in the Himalayas, pink salt is ultra pure and loaded with trace minerals.
Organic Brown Rice Pasta + Organic Tomato Sauce. For my partner. Having these two staples stocked all. the. time make things easy when he's hungry, wants something warming and super quick. This would also be great to have on hand, if you have kids. Toss in a plethora of vegetables, and in fifteen minutes you have a warm and satiating dinner. Top with avocado for a dose of healthy fats.
Seaweed. I don't use seaweed enough, as I used to eat it all the time, when healing my thyroid. Here are the basics: Kombu is the base of Dashi, a staple stock in Japanese cooking, and when added to soups and stocks, it delivers vital minerals and phytonutrients and a big hit of umami. And beans cooked with kombu become more digestible. Sheets of Nori become healthy wraps when topped with avocado, miso, fermented veggies and nut cheeses. Dulse flakes add nutrition and flavor to soups and salads and hijiki, wakame and arame are all fantastic seaweeds for a simple and nutrient dense side salad.
Glass canisters and mason jars, ceramic pots and Japanese tins transform a messy and disorganized cupboard into a shrine. But decanting your staples serves more than just aesthetics. Stackable, clear jars create order from chaos and allow you to see what you have on hand. Wide mouthed jars allow easy access to ingredients so baking becomes a pleasure and not a chore.
Here are some of my favorite (and dream) vessels for building your perfect pantry:
Classic glass cookie jars provide easy access for flours, oats and other ingredients you often need to measure. Say goodbye to wrestling with plastic and paper packages every time you bake. The wide mouth fits a measuring cup with no annoying spills and you’ll always know how much you have left.
Muji’s canisters are simple and clean and come with nicely fitting lids. Perfect for teas, pastas, dried chiles, popcorn and more.
Mason jars or recycled kitchen jars make for more great storage for spice blends, seeds and dried legumes. These upgraded jars with their glass lids and clips, will make your life so easy.
A hinged top canning jar has such old school stylish appeal, which I love. But I especially love this version for their shiny gold lids.
Humble Ceramics makes these cool canisters that come with 1970s style big cork closures. They’re not too big and channel California commune cooking in just the right way. (Dream List!)
I hope this helps you to clear out the clutter, to build your dream pantry, cupboard, shelf, I know even just writing and researching all the different storage containers, as me itching to do a major renovation. Especially since we're moving into a new loft next month.
Have a beautiful rest of your week!
Love & Light,