Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fab 5 in the Pantry

5 Items I Always Keep in My Pantry

The pantry isn't always a place you go to for healthy options.  This is often where we store our processed, non-perishable foods.  However, there are some pantry staples that you can use to optimize you health.  My can't-live-without pantry items are as follows (in non-discriminatory order):

1.) Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a heart healthy fat that can actually help you burn fat.  True story, eating fat doesn't always=gaining weight.  The type of fat in coconut oil is called lauric acid.  This is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT if you will).  MCT's are more easily absorbed than LCT's (long chain triglycerides) which makes them an excellent choice for people with digestive issues.  Coconut oil also has a higher smoking point than many other oils used for cooking.  This just means that you can heat it to a higher point without damaging it's structure.  This makes it a great oil to cook with.  There are also studies that support evidence that coconut oil helps our bodies regulate blood sugar levels, increase thyroid function (hence a faster metabolism), and aid in absorption of other nutrients (=gorgeous skin, hair and nails).  

2.) Raw Cider Vinegar

If you know me at all, you've probably heard me sing praise about this one.  Raw cider vinegar that still has the 'mother' in it can be your go to product for all that ails you.  Drinking raw cider vinegar helps keep the blood in the body more alkaline.  This is key to preventing illness.  If you like you are coming down with something, you can drink a few tablespoons of this three times per day.  I add a tiny pinch of baking soda to it as well.  You can also use it to aid in digestion.  Just put a few tablespoons in 8oz of water and drink it about 30 minutes before eating.  Additionally, it can be used as a natural energy boost.  You can drink it straight up or make your own energy drink by adding a few tablespoons to 12oz of water with freshly grated ginger a a teaspoon or 2 of honey.  

3.) Loose Tea Leaves

Brewing tea can be therapeutic in and of itself.  The ritual of boiling the water and hearing the kettle whistle and the warm feeling of holding the perfectly brewed cup can really make you appreciate the simple things in life.  Aside from the gratitude this ritual may release, an entire host of good is happening inside your body once the tea is ingested.  Loaded with flavonoids (a specific type of antioxidant), tea helps fight against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, clogged arteries, etc.  There are many types of tea to choose from and different types are known for protecting different body parts and organs.  You can click here for more information about which teas protect against what.

4.) Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.   Omega-3 fats are all the rage because they are essential fats the help protect our most significant assets, the brain and the heart.  The body can't produce these fats on it's own, so you need to add them to your diet to keep your ticker ticking and to support brain function.  What can Omega-3 fats help you prevent?  Heart disease, hypertension, depression, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, healthy brain development in babies (both in the womb and post partum) and joint paint.  So, no big deal.  Eat it or don't...no, seriously EAT THE FAT!

5) Meal Replacement

Life happens.  Somedays we just don't have enough time to fit it all in.  When you just "don't have time" and you are tempted to grab something quick and dirty, go for a fortified meal replacement instead.  Pick one that offers plenty of vitamins and a good balance of carbohydrates and protein.  I like the two pictured above because they taste great and they keep me full.  The Raw Meal provides 34 grams of protein per serving (I often just make a half serving and it's enough).  It also contains 20 vitamins and minerals, probiotics and digestive enzymes, 16 grams of fiber and it's made from raw, plant based, whole foods.  This also makes a great breakfast if you are on the run in the morning and you have to eat on the go.  My favorite way to have it is blended with some flax seed milk and a spoon of almond butter.

So, there you have it.  My fab 5 in the pantry.  I have some other favorites that I'm happy to share later. Now it's your turn.  What pantry staples are on your 'can't live without' list?  

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