Creating nourishing and wholesome meals is so much easier when you have your pantry stocked with some essential basics with which you can whip up a healthy dinner in no time. Having whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and spices in your pantry, means you no longer have an excuse for not cooking a quick meal on busy days. For a long time, some white pasta and ready-made pasta sauce was my go-to for an effortless pantry meal, but as my interest in nutrition has grown, I have ditched the white pasta and replaced it with these 10 essentials.
I absolutely love oats and in winter I have them for breakfast almost every day. Oats also serve as my go-to dinner on days I am so tired that cooking a proper meal just seems
2. Brown rice
I have written a blog post about why brown rice is so much healthier than white rice, but it really should come as no surprise. Because brown rice naturally has a nutty flavour, all it really needs is some steamed veggies on the side and a bit of seasoning to make a killer quick dinner.
Another essential grain for me is quinoa. This grain is quick to boil, full of fiber and protein and makes for the perfect filler in a ‘toss in whatever is left in the fridge’ salad. I tend to buy organic three-colour quinoa, as it adds some colour and dimension to my dish.
4. Brown and Red Lentils
Although I love many legumes, brown and red lentils are definitely my pantry essentials. They cook a lot quicker than most beans and work great in an earthy winter soup or as a light dahl in summer.
Besides salt and pepper, miso is my favourite condiment to use in cooking. It offers saltiness and has a similar flavour to soy sauce. However, as it is packed with loads of probiotics, miso is always my preferred healthy choice for any Asian dishes.
I am so obsessed with this stuff that I put it on almost everything. I add it to salad dressings, oatmeal, homemade hummus, bread spreads, curries and anything else that I can think off. I justify this to myself with the fact that (unhulled) tahini is full of calcium, making it a perfect food to add to my vegan diet.
7. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are my essential salad/soup/oatmeal toppers, as they add the perfect crunch. The seeds are particularly high in magnesium, iron and zinc, which again make them a perfect staple food for any vegan.
The king of all seeds! Flaxseed is exceptionally high in omega 3s. Since our food culture is rich in omega 6 fatty acids, balancing those out with some omega 3 is crucial for your health. I must admit that I don’t use flax seeds as much of a flavour addition, but because their health benefits are so important, I do aim to eat 3 tablespoons of flax every day.
9. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is known as having a cheesy flavour and although I am not convinced on that, I do think it is absolutely delicious. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on all types of dishes, from pasta dishes and stir-fries to salads and oven-fried potato chips. The high amounts of B vitamins make it another nutritional powerhouse.
Sprinkling cacao nibs over a bowl of oats takes care of any chocolate cravings I might have, so I make sure to always stock up on a jar of cacao nibs. These little bits of cacao beans are clearly more nutritious than their processed counterparts, so keeping them in my pantry at all times ensures I don’t have chocolate on a regular basis anymore.
These are my 10 favourite pantry essentials and together with fresh fruits and veggies daily, they make eating healthy eating that much easier. I still keep loads of other good stuff in my pantry, but without these 10 foods my kitchen definitely feels empty.