Whole food eating is made A LOT easier when you have a few staples on hand. Here are the top 5 pantry items I have stocked all the time:
- flour--I still prefer white flour for most of my baking (although I do have about 4 other kinds on hand at any given time, white unbleached flour is my standard for bread, muffins, biscuits and tortillas). Wondering what else I have? Whole wheat, rye, buckwheat, rice…
- canned beans–chick pea, pinto, black bean, mixed–doesn’t matter, whatever kind you like! I use canned a lot more than dry (…mostly because I NEVER remember the night before to take the dry out and soak them.). They are so useful for making quick vegetarian meals and great for salads! Black Bean Salad, Chick Pea Tacos, Refried Beans
- nuts and seeds –I always keep sunflower seeds, pepitos (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, flax seeds (ground and whole), and a couple of variety of nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans) on hand. Its a great way to add a little extra nutrition to baking or salads and they make a great snack! (okay maybe the flax and sesame wouldn’t make a great snack…:) Sometimes I grind them with my coffee grinder and add the “flour” to breads and muffins.
- other legumes and grains –lentils, quinoa, barley, wheatberries, rice, oats…whatever floats your boat. They are essential for many vegetarian dishes and are a great way to add extra nutrients to recipes! I add red lentil to Turkey Soup, Spaghetti Sauce and Chili. I substitute quinoa for rice in many dishes and this Wheatberry Salad is amazing!
- spices and herb mixes–cumin, chili powder, mustard powder and cinnamon are the 4 I go through most. But I also love using Epicure dip blends for adding flavour to soups, breads, meat dishes and more (3 Onion, Herb and Garlic, Pesto and the Salad Dressing mixes are my top favourites!! It is a Canadian company, low sodium, no filler/additives/preservatives and really tasty!)
In a large bowl combine:
3 cups large flake oats
4 cups quick cook oats
1 cup coconut (any type will do)
¼ cup pepitos (pumpkin seeds)
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup each flax seed and ground flax
1 cup raisins (but don’t add until after baking!!)
In a saucepan combine and bring to a boil:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
¼ cup water
½ cup maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
Pour the maple syrup mixture over the oat mixture and mix well until all is wet. Split evenly over 2 baking sheets (with sides) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Add raisins and mix well. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 months.
Tip: granola is so easy to change up to suit your taste buds! You can add nuts, wheat germ or other seeds. Take out the coconut or raisins-you name it! Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little!