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Get Kitchy With It: A Guide to Stocking a Healthy Kitchen – Part I

by Marissa on June 3, 2011

If you think making a home-cooked meal means a time-consuming trip to the store, expensive ingredients and slaving over a stove – all after a long day at the office, think again.  In this two-part series you’ll get a handy list of everything you’ll need to stock a healthy and sustainable kitchen.
My  guide to stocking a healthy kitchen is a simple list of ingredients and gadgets you’ll need to whip up a meal as impressive as it is healthy, all at a moment’s notice. Say goodbye to takeout and frozen meals and welcome more energy and smaller waistlines.
Garlic, Onion and Ginger: Used together or alone, these meal starters are best in stir fry, sauces and salad dressings. As an added bonus, they contain anti-inflammatory properties and fight infection.
Lemons and Limes: Add zing to salads, fish, vegetables, salad dressings and plain water. Citrus alkalizes the blood, aids digestion and promotes weight loss.
Tahini: A savory paste made from sesame seeds, tahini is ideal for dips and spreads, sauces and salad dressings.
Miso: Versatile in a variety of recipes and a good source of B12 for vegans, the fermented soybean paste has a salty taste and buttery texture making it perfect as a soup stock, a sandwich spread, a marinade or a key ingredient in Asian-inspired salad dressing.
Tamari: Another fermented soy food, tamari, is similar to soy sauce and can be purchased without wheat ingredients for those with gluten sensitivity. Use tamari in place of salt for seasoning food and for sautéing vegetables. Fermented foods act as digestive aids.
Apple Cider Vinegar: This tart condiment cleanses the digestive tract and increases circulation. It can be taken by the spoonful but we prefer to reap its benefits in salad dressings and sauces.
Nut and Seed Butters: Use all natural nut and seed butters to add healthy fats to your diet. Try almond, cashew, walnut, macadamia nut and sunflower seed butters. For a healthy snack, spread them onto rice cakes, sprouted or whole grain bread or scoop into smoothies.
Whole Grains: We always keep whole grains like brown rice, quinoa or millet at the ready because they provide sustained energy and loads of vitamins. Re-heat whole grains as a breakfast porridge with milk, chopped nuts, cinnamon and fresh or dried fruit, add cold to green salads or make your own grain salad with chopped nuts, dried fruit, herbs and vinaigrette.
Leafy Green Vegetables: Keep a bunch of your favorite leafy greens on hand for vital energy and blend into juices, smoothies, salads and stir fry.
Beans: Canned or dry, beans are an often-overlooked source of protein as well as fiber, iron and folic acid. Serve with whole grains for a complete protein, add them to soups or salads and blend them with seasoning for dips.
Milk and Dairy Alternatives: Whether your preference is cow’s goat’s, almond or another soy or nut-based dairy alternatives, they are easily incorporated into snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and healthy desserts.
Tempeh: Vegans and vegetarians alike will delight in this fermented soybean cake with a nutty flavor that can be marinated, sautéed, braised or grilled and added to soups, casseroles, stir fry and atop salads.
Oil: High quality, organic oils are another good source of healthy fat. We keep a variety of oils in our kitchen – coconut oil for high heat cooking, olive oil for medium heat sautéing and toasted sesame and flax oil for drizzling on salads, vegetables and whole grains before serving (we also like olive oil for this).
Nori: Best known for its use in sushi, is packed full of minerals that beautify skin, hair and nails. Toast nori sheets by passing them over an open flame and use as a wrap for leftover cooked vegetables and whole grains or stuff with your favorite salad ingredients.
Natural Sweeteners: Natural sweetening agents like honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia can replace sugar and other processed sweeteners and most boast nutrients white sugar does not. Our favorite is maple syrup for sauces and salad dressings and coconut sugar for baking. Like any sweet food, use them in moderation.
Spices: Enhance the flavor and aroma of food with spices which can also help digestion, tenderize food, warm or cool the body or curb sweet cravings. Try cayenne, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon.
Herbal Tea: This centuries-old hot drink can set the mood, curb cravings and prevent disease. Start your day with green tea, end your meal with peppermint tea and unwind with chamomile.
Need a simple way to put these ingredients to use? Try steaming seasonal greens or veggies, combine with a cup of whole grains and drizzle with this savory sauce: 1 inch ginger, peeled and diced; 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced; 2 Tablespoons tamari; 4 Tablespoons Tahini; ½ teaspoon maple syrup; juice of half a lemon; dash of cayenne. Blend all ingredients together adding water to get the right consistency.What are your favorite ingredients to keep on-hand in your kitchen?

Check back tomorrow for my list of favorite Gadgets for your kitchen.

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