Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Top 20 Healthy Pantry Must-Haves
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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Top 20 Healthy Pantry Must HavesMy top 20 healthy pantry foods I purchase allow me to always have healthy options at home. One of the most common questions I’m asked is “How can I help my family and I eat better?” One of the easiest ways you can help your entire family eat healthy is to make sure you have healthy pantry staples on-hand at all times. Here is my go-to top 20 list that makes healthy eating fast and simple. The list includes foods you should have stocked in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to make healthy eating easier everyday .

This post was inspired by the Amex EveryDay Credit Card which is a no-annual fee card that rewards Card Members for those in-the-trenches purchases from honey to chicken broth- daily life demands: if you use the Card 20 times or more in a billing period, you earn 20% extra Membership Reward points. I’m thrilled to be working with the folks at American Express as the EveryDay credit card makes perfect sense to reward us for our purchases without an annual fee.

You earn 2x the points at grocery stores. As a registered dietitian and nutrition expert, I absolutely love this! You earn 1x on everything else and once you get to 20 transactions, you get the 20% bonus just because.

1. Canned tomatoes: one of the most versatile items you can stock up on that will add a flavorful punch to any recipe!  Containing the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene, you can add canned tomatoes to stews, chili, or make your own pasta sauce. With so many options at the grocery store you can choose whole, chopped, diced, crushed, low-sodium and no-salt added versions.
2. Spices: add fabulous flavor to your food without all the calories and fat with a well-stocked spice rack! Using spices like cinnamon, oregano, thyme and ginger to flavor your food can also help you reduce your salt intake. Spice it up in your kitchen!
3. Frozen vegetables: great to keep on hand, especially when your favorite veggies are out of season or not available at the grocery store.  Plus, research shows that they are just as nutritious as fresh veggies, since they’re packed at their peak of freshness.
4. Extra-virgin olive oil: this versatile oil full of healthy fats and can be used for salad dressings and making homemade hummus.
5. Honey:  a natural sweetener that is extremely versatile and delicious. Wonderful to add to smoothies or try my Honey Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls recipe. A popular favorite in my family and with the professional baseball players I work with are the peanut butter and honey sandwiches with bananas on whole wheat sandwich thins.
6. Eggs: one of nature’s perfect little protein packages, wrapped up in an assortment of essential vitamins and minerals. Enjoy eggs in a breakfast omelets or hard-boil for a high-protein snack.
7. Rolled Oats: my go-to breakfast is oatmeal, so stocking up on rolled oats means you will always have them on hand to make a quick and delicious breakfast to start your day on the right track. Try swapping out your regular morning cereal for a warm bowl of oatmeal for a filling breakfast that will give you lasting energy throughout the day.
8. Greek Yogurt: a staple in my refrigerator for several years, this high-protein yogurt will provide a satisfying snack or is a great addition to your meal. Providing sweetness without all of the added sugar of regular yogurt. You can also add your own flavor and sweetness to your Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.
9. Kefir: one of my top 10 foods to try in my latest book, The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin. This protein packed drinkable gem is a great way to get probiotics in your diet without all the sugar. Kefir is a fermented milk and many new flavors and portable options are now available in grocery stores.
10. Black beans: a great source of protein and fiber for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.  Regardless of whether you buy canned or dried, they can be a tasty addition to chili, salads, fajitas, pastas, entrees and soups. Just go on Pinterest to find lots of great recipes using black beans.
11. Frozen fruit: load up your freezer with your favorite frozen fruit. Frozen fruit is a great add-in for an energizing morning smoothie, added to your favorite Greek yogurt, or even simmered in a saucepan into a berry sauce for your favorite whole wheat French toast or pancakes.
12. Low-sodium chicken broth: this must-have makes it easy to put together a last-minute minute meal in a flash.
13. Sardines: one of my newest pantry staples that I love. Loaded in protein and omega 3’s, sardines are definitely making a comeback. Buy the sardines packed in water, lemon, or mustard options.
14. Nuts: keep an assortment of nuts on hand like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Nuts can add a great crunch to a salad and area always enjoyed as a healthy snack when eaten alone.
15. Peanut butter: a versatile and delicious food that provides a healthy fat boost to your meals and snacks. Look for the natural versions or peanuts or other nut butters. Look at the ingredients label and it should just contain only two ingredients: nuts and salt.
16. Quinoa: often confused to be a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. A complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is a perfect side to any meal or eaten as your main dish. There are so many delicious and healthy quinoa recipes available on Pinterest.
17. Whole wheat pasta: buy whole wheat pasta since it can have nearly 2-3 times as much fiber as regular pasta and more protein. This easy add can make mealtime a cinch and whole wheat pasta is much tastier than it was ten years ago.
18. Balsamic vinegar: one of my favorite ways to add a lot of flavor to many meals without many calories and no fat. I use in slow cooker recipes, vegetables, entrees, and sides. Every kitchen should have a good balsamic vinegar.
19. Energy bars: stocking your pantry with clean energy bars is a great way to be prepared for a snack attack or those times that you know you will be without food and need to throw one in your purse or car.
20. Freekeh: the newest food on this list that I keep stocked in my pantry, freekeh is a roasted grain that is loaded with protein and fiber and offered a great alternative to rice and other grains. It has a delicious nutty and chewy texture that is great for side dishes and salads.

Everyone has 20 purchases or pantry items that keeps theirs household running…now tell me, what’s your 20?

I am an American Express card member and an EveryDay Moms Ambassador.

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