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Guest Post: A Healthy Pantry

Yihung Mohs is the owner of  Silver Spring Dream Dinners and the talented writer of the The Silver Spring Dream Dinners Blog.

The Healthy Pantry

Spring is officially here! With warmer weather, longer days and nature making its annual comeback, it’s easy to see why many call this their favorite season.  To open the windows and breath the fresh air is a great motivator to get organized and do some spring-cleaning.  There is something so appealing about starting anew during this season, which almost makes house cleaning sound like fun.

With an abundance of seasonal fresh vegetables and fruits now available, this would be an excellent time to go a step further and create a healthy family pantry.  By ridding your kitchen of heavily processed foods that are high in fat, artificial colors and flavors, you are one step closer to developing meals that are not only good for you, but also contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Before getting started, keep in mind that this does not have to be a project that needs to be completed in a day.  It takes time to change lifestyles, cooking habits and menu preferences, especially when you have children.  But over time, you will find that food made with healthy ingredients just taste better.

So where do you begin? First, get rid of white sugar, white flour and any processed foods such as cookies, crackers, soda, sugar drinks and the like.

Look at any of the nutrimental data on any food item and if sugar is listed as the first ingredient, then say goodbye.  When it’s all said and done, you will be surprised how empty your pantry will be once those items are gone as the average American is said to consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Now you can now begin to stock your pantry with healthy alternatives. Where do you begin? It’s never a bad idea to have these items always available:

Olive Oil
This is really the only oil you need in your pantry.  Canola oil is a good choice for baking purposes, but throw out any oil that has polyunsaturated fats, such as safflower, peanut and corn oils)

Whole Wheat Pasta
Use instead of white pasta for a healthier version of your favorite pasta dish.  Your family won’t know the difference.

Diced, Crushed Tomatoes
Get rid of expensive ready-to-serve pasta sauces, where sugar is often the leading ingredient and create your own.  These canned tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which has been known to reduce the risk of cancer.

Brown Rice
This healthy side dish helps with digestion and colon issues and provides a great source of fiber.

Beans
These are high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Use black beans in burritos or tacos or use as a side dish.  Butter beans, chickpeas and white beans can be cooked a variety of ways and should be a staple in any pantry.

Dry Produce
Always have onions, garlic and ginger on hand to put a spin on any dish.

Low Salt Chicken and Vegetable Broth
You can create your own healthy soups or sauces quickly without the high sodium of canned soups.

Nuts
Walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds thrown in with some dried fruit make a healthy snack.

The list of healthy food choices goes on.  Having a well-stocked pantry allows you have the items on hand to make healthy, enjoyable meals. By adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet you are creating a lifestyle that is not only nutritiously satisfying but also beneficial to you and your family’s overall health.

Thanks to Yihung and Silver Spring Dream Dinners for the tips and of course, family dinners made easy.

Would you like to contribute a guest post to A Parent in Silver Spring? I accept articles that contain information that is helpful or entertaining for parents, and of use to everyone, not just potential customers. Just send me an e-mail with your idea for a post and we’ll talk.

Photo credit: iStock

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