Essentials for a Well-Stocked Pantry – Part 1

We all know someone who can enter the kitchen on a moment’s notice and emerge with a great meal.

For me, that was my mom. Since we never had a microwave, her dishes and dinners were not of the frozen variety, but concocted from what was on hand (and in the fridge!).

Her secret, and that of all other “on demand” cooks, is a well-stocked, healthy pantry.

Think of your pantry as the secret weapon for always having the essentials you need when the troops have to be fed. With a little planning ahead of time, you’ll always have the right supplies ready to go.

Let’s start with:

Natural oils

Extra virgin olive and coconut oil are really the only two oils you need to have in your pantry. Many health experts advise against using corn, canola and soybean oil. And, of course, shortening, which contains trans fat, is a definite no-no.

Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for salad dressings, sauces, bread-dipping and low-heat uses, but not so much for high-heat cooking.  This is where coconut oil shines (especially the extra virgin kind), since it doesn’t break down when exposed to high temperatures. Besides having anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, coconut oil offers such health benefits as improved digestion and weight management, lower cholesterol levels and better regulation of blood sugar.

Now olive oil is considered to be among one of the world’s healthiest foods. It seems that new health-promoting benefits from consuming it are being discovered all the time. The many antioxidants it contains can help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and lower blood pressure. And don’t let the fact that it’s a “fat” stop you from enjoying it on as many foods as you can. It’s the “fat” that can help keep you both thin and healthy!

Next, I’ll go into some pantry essentials that are true ‘staples.’ With these on hand you’ll always be able to turn out a meal everyone will enjoy!

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