Bugs in the Pantry Bring Chance to Make Healthier Choices

Patient Expert

Bugs Yuck! I found that my pantry had come under attack by some sort of bug so I've been in the process of clearing that area out. I've tossed several food products that had become infested, although I still need to go through the spice jars to determine if any of those invaders have successfully breached the lids.

I have to admit that while cleaning out the cupboard is a royal pain - my kitchen counters and my dining room table are full of different food products - this exercise does provide a way to really see what I have stored and let me determine if I want to keep it. I've just started putting some of the food back - the cans of the various types of tomato products (stewed, diced, crushed and tomato paste) are neatly arranged as are the cans of different types of beans (garbanzo, cannelloni, pinto and black beans). But before I went too much farther, I thought it would be good to determine what would be in a healthy pantry.

Health.com spoke with famous trainer Jillian Michaels, who recommended getting rid of any foods that have trans fats, artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. She also recommends putting the best snacks at the front of the cupboard because you'll see them first. If you need treat food, get a calorie-controlled allotment so you can't go back for more.

The pantry also should be full of ingredients that will help you make tasty meals. After looking at the websites for Eating Well, Health and the Food Network, I found a number of recommendations to use as a checklist:

  • Oils, vinegars and condiments - Extra-virgin olive oil, smoked olive oil, canola oil, toasted sesame oil, walnut oil, reduced-fat mayonnaise, vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white wine, rice wine and apple cider), Asian condiments and flavorings (reduced-sodium soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, mirin, oyster sauce, chile-garlic sauce and curry paste), olives, Dijon mustard, capers, ketchup, barbecue sauce,   Worcestershire sauce, salsa, hot sauce and prepared pesto.
  • Flavorings - Salt (kosher, coarse sea salt and fine salt), black peppercorns, anchovies or anchovy paste, dried herbs (bay leaves, dill, sage, thyme, oregano, tarragon, rosemary and Italian seasoning blend), spices (allspice, caraway seeds, chili powder, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ground cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, dry mustard, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper and turmeric), granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, pure maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, Dutch-processed), vanilla extract bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, plain dry breadcrumbs, and Panko bread crumbs.
  • Canned goods and bottled items - Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato puree, reduced-sodium broth (chicken, beef, vegetable), clam juice, lite coconut milk, canned beans (cannellini, kidney, garbanzo, black, great northern), canned lentils, chunk light tuna, chunk light salmon, and jarred Italian tuna in olive oil.
  • Grains, pasta and legumes - Assorted whole-wheat pasta, tofu shirataki noodles, regular brown rice, instant brown rice, whole-wheat couscous, regular barley, quick-cooking barley, bulgur, quinoa, rolled oats, yellow cornmeal and dried lentils.
  • Baking products - Whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, spelt flour, unprocessed wheat bran, quick-rising yeast, cornstarch, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milled flaxseed and honey.
  • Nuts, seeds and dried fruit - Walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, almonds,   hazelnuts, dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, tahini, dried apricots, dried dates, dried cranberries, raisins, dried cherries, dried prunes, dried figs, and natural peanut butter.
  • Snack foods - Popcorn.

After going through my pantry, I realize that I have most of these recommendations (although I need to check out tufu shirataki noodles). And I also have some other things that I found that I just like, such as the spice cardamom and garam masala.

So perhaps there is a silver lining in cleaning out the pantry. However, I hope those pesky pantry invaders don't come back any time soon!

Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

Barrie, L. (nd.). E_ssential items for a healthy pantry._ Health.com.

Eating Well.com. (nd.). Guide to stocking your pantry.

Health.com.   (nd.). Jillian Michaels: Weight-loss tips that work.

Food Network. (nd.). The healthy pantry.