The 5 Must-Haves in My Pantry

plumsbowlMy average week can often consist of long days at the office and after-work conferences, not to mention fighting the traffic on the way home. The last thing I want to do after a tiresome day is create an elaborate dinner. But, that’s what rebooting your lifestyle is all about! Even after the most challenging days, the commitment to reboot your body is a 24-hour goal that not even the most trying day should dampen.

To combat the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I’ve come up with five staple ingredients to always have in the pantry. These five staples will arm you in the kitchen and enable you to add flavor and nutrition to any dish.

Top 5 Pantry Must-Haves

  1. Beans
  2. Nuts
  3. Dried plums
  4. Canned tomatoes
  5. Canned pumpkin

Beans are a great source of protein, potassium, fiber and B vitamins. They are shelf-stable and economical. Whether cannellini, black or kidney, all beans make a great addition to salads or side dishes. Their texture lends to a great dip and they are a nice addition to soups. If sodium is a concern when buying canned beans, you can opt for low-sodium beans, or canned beans can be rinsed to lower the sodium content.

Nuts pack a nutritious crunch. They boast protein and provide us with the good kind of fat (monounsaturated fat). Nuts make a simple addition to almost any meal. You can sprinkle them on top of cereal, create a nut butter and spread on whole grain toast, add them to rice or stuffings, or mix with vegetables and salads.

Dried plums can easily upgrade your meal, making you look like a culinary star. These bite-size nuggets of nutrition goodness have revitalized my palate and pantry. Dried plums contain carbohydrates, B vitamins, antioxidants, potassium and fiber – making them The Whole Package. They are versatile: You can add them to a variety of dishes or eat them as a snack or even as a dessert. They add natural sweetness and chewiness to dishes. You can toss them into trail mix, or add them to rice pilaf, stuffing, granola or rice pudding, among many other options.

Dried plums are a delicious and nutritious addition to any salad, or chicken and meat dishes. Plum purée, which can easily be made with a food processor, can be used as a fat substitute in place of butter in baked goods, like brownies, cookies or breads, and the purée also adds moisture to meats.

Canned tomatoes add great flavor to dishes. Their deep red color indicates they are a good source of lycopene. They also provide potassium and vitamin C. Like beans, nuts and dried plums, they too are shelf-stable. You can add them to chili, toss them into a soup or use them as a topping for an omelet.

Canned pumpkin is not just for the holiday season – it’s great tasting all year round. High in beta carotene and potassium and low in calories, you can cook pumpkin soup and top with slivered almonds. Canned pumpkin makes a nice addition to sauces. Try freezing pumpkin in ice cube trays and add to sauces. You can also add pumpkin to oatmeal to boost the vitamins and potassium. It also can serve as a dessert. Just mix apple sauce and pumpkin together and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Rebooting your body is a total lifestyle change. You’ve already made the commitment to a better, healthier you, so don’t let a crazed day get in the way of how far you’ve come. Keep on empowering the new you, every day!

Try the Total Body Reboot action plan that will leave you feeling like you’re The Whole Package. It’s your chance to snag some simple – yet significant – lifestyle changes. Learn more.

This is a sponsored post written by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, a spokesperson for the California Dried Plum Board, in partnership with Dr. Oz.