A carpenter never leaves home without a hammer, square, and level. A chef will never cook without his favorite knife, whetstone, cast iron skillet or food thermometer. Similarly, someone who wants to be prepared to prepare a healthy meal or snack at a moment’s notice will always have certain pantry staples ready. If that someone doesn’t have the goods, one might opt to boil those hot dogs that have been frozen since the 4th of July.
Even dieters order Chinese takeout or pizza when there’s nothing in the house to eat. But there’s rarely a time when these nutrition experts don’t have the necessary ingredients to whip up a quick and healthy meal. They know that a key to good nutrition is having the products ready to use. Thus, they stock up on the building blocks of a healthy diet.
Why leave your healthy diet to chance, when you can check out dietitians’ pantries? Here are some pantry staples that dietitians love to keep on hand.
“Portable protein is key if you live on the go like me,” he says Amy Goodson, MS, DR, CSSD, LDthe author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Council. “Jerky is a great way to get 10 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, iron, and zinc, when you need protein fast. It doesn’t have to stay cold, so it’s great for travel, kids’ lunches and snacks, or running errands.”
In fact, protein is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of obesity, a new study suggests.
registered dietitian nutritionist Jen Haugen, RDNstock your pantry with canned vegetables that are ready to be tossed into soups, chilis, and pasta dishes.
“I always have plenty of diced tomatoes, especially fire-roasted tomatoes, great for getting extra vitamin C and lycopene,” says the author of Dinner, Ready! Explain. “They add great flavor and color. I also love having canned artichokes on hand to add to pasta or to make a low-calorie version of artichoke dip, since they are high in fiber per serving.”
When you can’t get to the fishmonger and there’s no time to thaw fish from the freezer, you can still get your protein and omega-3s with a can opener.
“If you have 90-second canned salmon or tuna, beans, tomatoes, and whole grains, you can make an infinite number of meals,” says the Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist. Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDCEScreator of the crash course in meal planning for prediabetes.
For example, Weisenberger suggests this simple salmon salad: Mix canned salmon with drained marinated artichoke hearts, chopped onion, and canned chickpeas. Dress with olive oil and rice vinegar.
This gluten-free flour is low in carbs and high in fiber, which supports heart and gut health, as well as blood sugar stability.
“I keep this in my pantry because it’s versatile and also meets my dietary needs and those of any guests with dietary restrictions,” says the nutritionist. lisa richards, creator of a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet for gut health called the candida diet. “I use it to boost nutrition in desserts like gluten-free brownies and muffins. It’s also great on pancakes or just as a breading for items that will be placed in the fryer.”
Coconut flour absorbs a fair amount of a recipe’s liquid due to its high fiber content, so Richards recommends swapping out a quarter cup of coconut flour for a cup of regular flour.
Richards keeps a supply of this protein-rich grain in her pantry because it can be used to top off almost any meal.
“It’s a complete plant protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids, which is rare in plant foods,” she says. “The protein and fiber in this grain keep you full and satisfied long after a meal.”
To add a healthy twist to your meals, several dietitians recommend always keeping flaxseeds and ground flaxseeds on hand to mix into smoothies, sprinkle on yogurt and cereal, or use in baking. Rich in a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and soluble fiber, flaxseed is an easy way to boost the nutritional value of many meals and snacks. Studies suggest that it is an effective ingredient in lowering cholesterol levels, as well as containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Read this to learn A main effect of eating flax seeds, says science.
You will always find dried nori seaweed or kombu in a registered dietitian nutritionist’s pantry. Carly Knowles, RDN, RHP.
“These are fantastic sources of micronutrients and minerals that you can easily add to beans or a soup for a deep flavor and nutrient boost,” says the author of The nutritionist’s kitchen. “I also like to shred them and sprinkle them over a green salad for a salty, mineral-rich kick.”
“In my dry pantry, I always have beans and legumes for quick weeknight meals,” Knowles says. “I can put them in my Instant Pot for a quick, nutrient-dense meal. Or I can open a can of beans and prepare them in a variety of ways, like in this White Bean Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives.”
“I stock my pantry with kasha, a cooked grain cereal often made with buckwheat, barley, millet or rye, whole-wheat pasta, and steel-cut oats for a healthy, fiber-rich starchy option,” says a registered dietitian nutritionist. . Lisa Young, PhD, RDNauthor of Finally full, finally thin. “I love starting my day with steel cut oats, so that’s first on my list: oats are high in fiber and so satisfying.”
Oats are also a source of beta-glucan fiber, which is especially good for gut and heart health. Goodson is also a fan of oats because of their versatility.
“You can use them to make oatmeal, like I do every morning, or for overnight oats. Use them as a base for power snacks to make a nutrient-dense snack, and even mash them into flour that can be used in many recipes, including holiday desserts,” says Goodson.
Knowles uses bone broth as a base for soups, to stir-fry vegetables, “or just to drink when I want a protein-rich snack,” she says. Bone broth is rich in protein, collagen, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
“I often recommend bone broth to my pregnant patients for the added benefits of gelatin and collagen, which contain a very important amino acid called glycine,” Knowles says of this building block of protein in the body.
“I eat peanut butter every day of my life,” says Goodson. “It has 4 grams of protein per scoop plus healthy fat, a combo that will help you fill up faster and stay fuller longer. Also, it can be eaten in many foods like apples and bananas, bread and waffles, crackers and pretzels, or mixed with oatmeal, my preferred form.”
Goodson’s also stocks her pantry with walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and cashews for the same reasons: They’re loaded with protein and healthy fats. Walnuts are her favorite because they are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.