Best 12 staples to have in your pantry

Heart-Healthy Canned Tuna

No pantry is complete without a few cans or pouches of water-packed tuna.  Tuna can help add healthy omega-3 fats and protein to a variety of dishes, including omelets, enchiladas, or vegetable dips.

Surprising Uses for Pasta Sauce

Whipping up quick meals is a cinch when you have your favorite prepared tomato based pasta sauce on hand. Spuds, vegetables, and chicken breasts are transformed when topped with sauce and a sprinkle of low fat cheese. Make pizzas or add the sauce to lasagne. Read nutrition labels to find out the amount of calories, fat, and sodium in your sauce. You can jazz up your sauces with extra herbs and vegetables.

Spectacular Spuds

Super-healthy potatoes are a pantry must. They are low in calories and high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. You can sprinkle crunchy baked sweet potatoes cinnamon. Baked white or sweet potato french fries are superior to their deep-fried cousins. Make mealtime magic by topping a baked potato with vegetables, cheese, beans, salsa, chili, or whatever you have on hand.

Beans, a Protein Source

Make sure your pantry is stocked with a variety of beans. Whether dried or canned, beans are an inexpensive alternative to animal protein. They’re also an excellent source of fibre. Serve them as a side dish or add them to soups, omelets, tacos, casseroles, or salads. Thoroughly rinsing canned beans can slash sodium content by 40% or look for the no added salt versions.

Peanut Butter: Sandwiches and More

A perennial favorite of kids and adults, peanut butter is a comfort food that is found in almost every pantry. It’s a great source of filling protein and healthy fats. Beyond sandwiches, spread it on apples, bananas or celery! You can add it to Asian sauces and smoothies, or use it in dips. Mix it with hot water and a splash of soy sauce for a satay style salad dressing.

Most Versatile Staple: Dried Pasta

A family favorite, pasta goes with virtually all meats and vegetables.  It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to help make meals more interesting. Get more fibre by choosing whole-grain or whole-grain blend pasta. Add dried pasta to soups and casseroles. Clean out the vegetable drawer in the fridge and make a nutritious pasta primavera or stir-fry. Or top pasta with meat sauce or plain virgin olive oil.

Healthy Fats: Olive and Canola Oils

You’ll want to taste the fruity, peppery flavor of extra-virgin olive oil. Use it to dress salads, and grains. Drizzle it on pasta dishes or on crusty bread and diced tomatoes to make bruschetta. Canola oil performs best in frying pans and woks. Both of these heart-healthy oils lower certain disease risks and are preferable to solid fats like butter. Use either oil to sauté vegetables and meat.

Go for Whole-Grain Goodness

Brown rice is a healthy, high-fibre whole grain. Couscous, bulgur, and farro are also available in whole-grain versions. These versatile grains complement any meat, fish, poultry, or vegetable as a centre piece or side dish. Couscous, bulgur, and the seeds of the grain-like plant quinoa can be cooked quickly. For richer flavor, cook grains in stock. Combine them with colorful vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Can’t Live Without Canned Tomatoes

Having canned tomatoes on hand can make life a lot easier when you’re creating quick and healthy meals. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and vitamins A and C. They work in a variety of dishes, like soups and casseroles. And of course, they’re delicious. Spike them with basil and other herbs to use as a quick sauce for pizza, meats, pasta, or whole grains. Choose tomatoes with no added salt.

Add Some Crunch With Nuts

Don’t think of nuts as just a party food. They’re an excellent source of protein, fibre, good fats, and other healthy nutrients. If you regularly eat nuts as part of a healthy diet, you may reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts pair well with sweet and savory foods. Use unsalted nuts in cereals or as a meat alternative in pasta, grains, salads, or vegetables. Eat them with fruit or yogurt, in desserts, or as a nutritious snack.

Stock for Richer Flavors

In a perfect world, you’d have time to make your own stock from fresh meat or vegetables. (Homemade stock allows you to control the salt in your cooking.) If you don’t have enough time, buy low-sodium or unsalted chicken, beef, or vegetable stock to add depth of flavor to your dishes. Use it as the base for a quick soup or sauce. Rice and whole grains may taste richer when cooked in stock instead of water.

Fruit for All Meals

Rich in nutrients, loaded with antioxidants and fibre, and low in calories, fruit belongs at every meal. Canned fruit (which is just as nutritious as fresh or frozen) makes a delicious snack or dessert alone or over yogurt, ice cream, or waffles. Dried fruit adds pizzazz to salads, cereals, and fish, and goes well with nuts for the perfect healthy snack.

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