Tonight for dinner I made one of my favorite quick and easy dishes: Light ‘n’ Healthy Summer Pasta (or shall I call it Fall pasta?) Really, a dish like this can be made every season, with minor veggie variations of course. Anyway, back to the point: as I was running around boiling the water and sautéing my veggies, I thought about how terrible it’d be if I didn’t have some extremely vital kitchen staples. You know, the things you take for granted when cooking but it’d be a complete kitchen nightmare if suddenly you were all out. Yes, those lovely lifesavers. Anyway, I put a quick list together of my personal gotta-have-it supplies and thought I’d share with you fine ladies!
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil- The perfect “dressing” for a salad, the best and only way to cook veggies, and the most wonderful combination with pasta. EVOO is definitely a MUST in my book (er…kitchen).
2. Fresh herbs: I always like to have a few fresh herbs around the house. Right now I have basil and dill, but I like to change it up depending on what I’m cooking that week. Other faves are cilantro, parsley, mint leaves, and rosemary. I love using them to season meats, sprinkling them into my pasta dishes, adding them to veggie entrees and mixing them into dips ‘n’ spreads. Oh, and garlic! It’s not really an herb but I’m adding it into this category. Garlic is a must in every gal’s kitchen and I add it to nearly everything.
3. Dried herbs and seasonings: Just as important as fresh herbs are all my dried herbs/seasonings and trust me I have plenty of ’em! From oregano, basil, turmeric, parsley, ground pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili power, garlic salt, celery salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika and mustard seed, I pretty much have them all and use them frequently. I LOVE playing around with these herbs and seasonings to kick up a boring dish or add an interesting flavor to something that you may have never thought of before.
4. A Nut Butter of Choice: I go for Teddie All Natural Peanut Butter. If I don’t have it I FREAK. I also love all natural almond butter, and have even tried sunflower butter (although I still don’t know how I feel about it). Anyway, I need some sort of nut butter to spread, dunk, dip and indulge at any given time. If I run out of a peanut butter, I am not a happy girl in the kitchen.
5. And…Nuts! As much as I love nut butter, I also love nuts. I snack on raw almonds usually, but sometimes have walnuts and sunflower seeds on hand too. Pine nuts are also a favorite, especially when cooking veggie and pasta dishes. You can also use walnuts or pine nuts to make homemade pesto too : )
6. Eggs: I use eggs every week, whether it be in my morning veggie egg white omelet (or special Caprese omelet) or baking some healthy muffins. Eggs are simply a staple to every healthy chick’s kitchen.
7. Seasonal Fruits ‘n’ Veggies: Every week at the grocery store, I purchase fruits and veggies that are in season, fresh and (ideally) local. This week I stocked up on spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and tomatoes. Last week I played with eggplant. I also always have some red and sweet onions on hand to add to omelets, salads and many homemade dinners. As for fruit, I always have apples and bananas for a go-to snack, but I also buy what’s fresh and in season, like berries, watermelon and cantaloupe.
8. Lean Meats: You’ll never catch my freezer bare of lean meats. In particular, skinless boneless chicken breast and lean ground turkey. You can do so much with them, and are both healthy proteins to jazz up any dish! (This Squash ‘n’ Turkey Burg Medley is one of my favorites). I buy them fresh, use it the day of and then freeze the leftovers into plastic baggie portions for future use. Just take it out of the freezer the day of, plop it in the fridge and you’ll be good to go by dinner time!
9. Whole grains: Whole grains are just oh so good for us, as women have finally come to realize carbs are not the enemy! I always have a stock of Ezekiel bread I keep in my freezer (I like the original and cinnamon raison variety), gluten free rolled oats, brown rice, quinoa, brown rice pasta, and some whole grain wraps on hand. I honestly don’t know what I would do without these kitchen essentials.
10. Dark Chocolate: I gotta have it! Just a few dark chocolate chips after dinner does the trick for me every time, and dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants good for heart health. It’s a win win situation : )
EXTRA: 11. Greek Yogurt: I can’t believe I left this favorite out. I’m eating it for dessert now with fresh veggies, so this is my extra #11 must (sorry I left you out greek yogurt). Hey, why not save the best for last?
What are your gotta-have-’em kitchen staples?