- Hannah Aylward
Stocking a Healthy Pantry
Stocking a Healthy Pantry
By Hannah Aylward
It’s that time of year when spring has finally arrived. The arrival of spring, and the changing of seasons, is a magical time of year to get rid of the old and allow space for the new. The concept of spring cleaning exists for a reason.
The state of your physical space and environment can have a profound impact on the state of your mind. In order to allow for new, fresh, invigorating experiences to enter our lives, we need to make s p a c e for them.
This holds true when it comes to fueling your body with proper nutrition as well.
So take the time this week or weekend to clean out your kitchen space. Open your refrigerator and pantry, then refresh and re-stock. Toss those half-used bottles of salad dressing that have been sitting in there for months along with the half-eaten bags of stale chips and foods that no longer serve you — like that ice cream you have to actively work to pass up every time you open your freezer.
After you have performed this feel-good exercise, and oh does it feel so good, fill your kitchen space with things that support you.
Here is my list of healthy pantry items that will assist you in feeling good and living well:
- Black beans
- Cannellini beans
- Mung beans
- Grain-free pastas - chickpea pasta, lentil pasta, black bean pasta
Lentils and beans are a great plant-based, inexpensive source of protein. Try experimenting with different kinds to see which ones you like best. It’s always best to soak these as well. It helps break down some of the indigestible sugars that can hinder digestion.
- Brown rice
These are naturally gluten-free grains, not processed “grain products” that have been mechanically altered to be gluten-free. Buy in bulk to save some extra money too.
Nuts + Seeds all raw + unsalted
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Cacao nibs
Keep these in the fridge so that they last longer. (The oils in them go rancid quickly when exposed to heat - more info on rancid oils in my previous post.)
Nut + Seed Butters almond, pecan, walnut, sunflower seed, coconut, sesame, etc.
Look for added ingredients here, like sugar, hydrogenated oils, palm oil, and preservatives. You can always make your own at home too, which is super easy if you have the proper equipment.
- Olive oil - organic and extra virgin
- Coconut oil - unrefined and cold-pressed
- Avocado oil
- Canned wild salmon
- Canned organic chicken
These are great to have around. They are already cooked and are the ultimate time saver. Use them to top salads, wrap with veggies and lettuce, or make a homemade chicken salad.
- Coconut milk
Coconut milk is loaded with healthy fats. It is delicious in soups to add “creaminess” without any dairy. It’s also amazing in smoothies and lattes.
- Organic broth - vegetable, chicken, beef
Broths are super versatile and a wonderful thing to have around the house. Always check the ingredients list. Unfortunately, food manufacturers sneak sugar and preservatives in everything. If you can, make your own at home. You can do this in bulk and keep extra stored in your freezer for when you need it. Use these as the base for soups, sautéing vegetables, or cooking grains for added flavor.
Herbs + Spices + Extras
- Herbs + spices
These are packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals. They also pack on serious flavor while containing no added salt, oil, or calories. Experiment and try new ones. You can drastically change the flavor profile of dishes with a dash here and there.
Most mustards are totally clean and taste great in salad dressings, marinades, and dips.
- Vinegars - balsamic vinegar, raw apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar
Watch out for added ingredients here, and buy organic when possible. You can use these to make your own marinades and salad dressings, which are both always better to make at home to avoid unnecessary added ingredients like sugar, inflammatory oils, and gluten.
- Coconut aminos
Coconut aminosare a healthy alternative to soy sauce, which often contains wheat and processed soy. It is more on the sweet side, as opposed to salty.
- Non-alcoholic vanilla extract
Vanilla extract isn’t only for baking. I love it in coconut/almond yogurt, homemade hot chocolate, matcha lattes, and even smoothies. Buy one bottle, and it will last you a while.
- Raw cacao or cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is roasted and not raw, like cacao powder, making it contain fewer nutrients. It is still a great (cheaper) option. Always look for one that is not “processed with alkali." Get that chocolate flavor without any of the sugar.
Teas are so healing and ritualistic. Consider them body and soul food. Any of your favorites work here. Save on buyingtea when you goout and enjoy it at home instead. Some of our favorites are roasted dandelion root, peppermint, echinacea, ginger, and hibiscus.
- Protein Powder
I am a fan of protein powders, as they are an easy and efficient way to add satiating protein to meals. They also make a great on-the-go snack when mixed with some water or nut milk. Personally, I like collagen peptides and plant-based options. I find that most people don’t tolerate whey protein well, as it is derived from dairy which many cannot process properly. If you do choose whey, make sure it is grass-fed. Always check the ingredients on protein powders, regardless of the kind. As always, the fewer the ingredients, the better. Look out for added sugars and stabilizers. You want one with a good amount of protein per serving too. My favorites include Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, Vega, Sunwarrior, and Tone it Up.
- Healthy sweeteners
Sugar is sugar is sugar, no matter what form it is in. There really isn’t a “healthy” kind. In small amounts, sugar is ok. Stick to unrefined, unprocessed versions of it for days when baking treats is on the to-do list. These include: coconut sugar, raw honey, raw manuka honey, pure maple syrup, organic stevia, and monk fruit. Dates are another good option, but I keep these in the fridge for freshness. Sometimes baking treats with the kids is as soul-filling and health-promoting as drinking that green smoothie.Health is holistic!
Have any questions about putting together a proper pantry? Ask below!
Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.