A good friend of mine came for a visit this weekend. It was so nice to catch up – we reminisced about our time living in England, exchanged motherhood stories, and of course, talked baby food! She gave me some excellent constructive criticism on my blog. I accepted her opinion graciously as I am always looking for ways to improve, plus I value her opinion. She reminded me how moms have limited time in general, let alone in the kitchen and that a handy list of pantry essentials could help ease stress and time in the kitchen. In response to our discussion, I’m sharing with you today the top 14 pantry essentials, from my kitchen to yours.
Ground flax seed
Flax seed is a great item to have in your pantry (actually, in your freezer-it stays fresher longer!) Add flax to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, baked goods or use as an egg substitute in baking (1 egg=1 tbsp. ground flax seed + 3 tbsp. warm water). Find it in your local grocery store or at the Bulk Barn.
I’ve been a huge fan of avocado! I was initially reeled in because I love guacamole, but now I add avocado to salads or use it as a spread on sandwiches. My fave go-to snack for myself and my son is mashed avocado and banana with carob powder…don’t knock it until you try it!
Brown rice syrup
A natural and healthy alternative to sugar! Use in baked goods or to sweeten dishes. You can find it at the Bulk Barn, but most grocery stores have it stocked in their organic section.
Carob chips and carob powder
A delicious alternative to chocolate chips and cocoa powder. They have a unique caramel-like chocolatey flavour! It’s hard to explain how they taste…you just need to try them for yourself! (The only place I’ve found these is at the Bulk Barn.)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Call me crazy (or Italian!) but I put this “stuff” on everything! I usually “save” this oil for drizzling on prepared meals, in soups, and on salads. I would not waste this precious oil for frying! (Call me biased but my fave is San Giuliano…it’s from Sardegna!)
Besides being delicious, coconut oil is also very healthy for you! Use it in baked goods to add extra flavour or simply use it to sauté veggies. The extra-virgin option is quite expensive but it is worth it! Find it in local grocery stores or the Bulk Barn.
Canned or dried lentils
I almost want to call myself the lentil queen..from lentil soup, to quinoa and lentils, to lentil burgers, I always have a stash of them in the pantry. They are so versatile!
I love Parmesan, and luckily those of us with a dairy intolerance can actually eat it! I use this often when preparing meals for my son. Although I use a lot of spices I still find the food needs an extra kick of flavour, and I prefer adding yummy cheese instead of salt! I also prefer grating it as opposed to buying it already grated. It just seems to stay fresher longer and doesn’t seem to lose its flavour.
If you haven’t tried greek yogurt yet, all I have to say is, “what are you waiting for?!” It’s so creamy and tangy! I always have a tub in the fridge. My son has eaten yogurt since he was 6 months old. Mix it with fresh fruit or cereal, use it in baked goods to replace butter or oil or add to smoothies for some extra creaminess!
A great staple ingredient to have in the freezer! I always have broth stored in ice-cube trays on hand to add to my sons meals when reheating so they don’t over-dry.
Almond butter (or other nut butters)
I never thought I would be a convert, but now I would choose almond butter over peanut butter any day! Spread it on toast, add to smoothies, or use in baked goods for added flavour. The only problem with almond butter is that there are SO many different name brands to choose from. I’ve tried quite a few and I have to say my favourite is from the Bulk Barn!
Tofu is much more versatile than you think! Use it as a substitute for yogurt in smoothies, sautée cubes in a pan (what I call “tofu croutons”) and add to salads, toss in a zip-lock bag with baby cereal and cinnamon for a quick snack or add to your favourite stir-fry. You can find it in the organic section of most grocery stores.
Dried fruit, nuts and seeds
I always keep hefty portions of nuts and seeds (in the freezer) and dried fruit (in the pantry). Add them to baked goods, yogurt, cereal, arabic-inspired recipes, smoothies or simply eat alone for a quick and healthy snack on the go.
My favourites are Callipo and Rio Mare. Add to lentils and quinoa, salads, wraps, and more.