Stocking your kitchen with whole foods is a very fulfilling and rewarding part of living a healthy lifestyle. Whole foods aren’t just fruits and vegetables. It is a variety of flavors, textures, and colors that can create delicious and satisfying meals that truly nourish your body inside and out. Below are some whole foods that I like to keep in stock for when I am making every day meals or just something quick. I will also recommend a few brands that are whole food worthy that you can look for on your next shopping trip to the grocery store.
Nuts & Seeds
Locked inside these, are the genetic materials for an entire plant. Therefore, providing excellent human nutrition. They are especially good sources of essential fatty acids, vitamin E, protein, and minerals. When buying nuts and seeds, be sure they are raw, preferably organic and unsalted. Nuts and seeds are a great addition to many dishes and desserts. I like to add cashews to my broccoli or green beans when steaming, roasting or sautéing. Nuts are also a great base for sauces and dips. Especially cashews; they leave a creamy texture to sauces like alfredo and “cheese” sauces. There are also a variety of milks made of nuts such as almond, hemp, soy, and cashews. Seeds are a great topping for salads and buddha bowls. Here are some nuts and seeds to keep on hand: almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and pecans. Brazilian nuts are also great to keep on hand.
Oils & Vinegars
Okay, here is the skinny on oils. There are good oils and there are bad oils. Healthy oils are an essential part of a healthy diet. Oil not only warms and energizes us, it protects and nourishes our vital organs. When buying oil, this is what you should look for: Unrefined oils preferably organic and look for oil stored in dark-colored glass bottles and be sure that it is pure oil of the plant they were processed from. Healthy oils are: olive oil and coconut oil (extra-virgin), flax oil (cold-pressed), coconut butter, ghee, toasted sesame oil, and avocado oil. You can also use pumpkin seed oil and macadamia nut oil.
Vinegars that are naturally fermented, unpasteurized, organic, and unfiltered are a great addition to your pantry. They are great for dressings marinades, and pickling. Here are some good vinegars: Apple cider vinegar, ume plum vinegar, balsamic (red & white), and brown rice vinegar.
Some other seasonings and condiments to look for are: mirin, mustard (greens, prepared, seeds), tamari, sea salt (unrefined and sun-dried). Miso (fermented soy) and liquid aminos (coconut).
Spices & Herbs
You should always have a wide variety of spices and herbs available for all of your dishes. Dried herbs are okay, but fresh is best. When buying dried herbs and spices, organic is best. Using fresh herbs and spices taste better, but ground and dried is a fine alternative. Experiment with different flavors and blends to add something really special to your dishes. Some spices/herbs that are good for daily use are: pepper, ginger, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and seasoning blends are good, too. Again, organic is better.
There are many types of whole grains from rice to quinoa and everything in between. Each grain has their own unique texture, flavor and color and each provide all necessary nutrients that can heal and/or maintain health and vitality along with boosting immune health. They are rich in macro (Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and fiber. Search for whole grains versus refined. There are many varieties of rice such as wild, brown basmati, brown jasmine, forbidden (black)rice, sweet brown rice, red rice and more. Other grains such as quinoa come in white, black, and red. To add different flavors and textures, consider using buckwheat, millet, amaranth, teff, barley, and spelt. There are so many to choose from.
One of the most popular and widely used food is pasta. But there is a difference between whole food pasta and refined pasta. Great examples of whole food (ingredient) pasta are whole wheat, whole grain, bean and brown rice pasta. These types of pasta can be found with whole food ingredients, nutrient dense, organic and unprocessed. Most whole food pastas are made with just one ingredient—the grain or bean, that’s it.
Beans & Legumes
In addition to being an excellent source of protein, beans and legumes are also essential for kidney-adrenal function. They are full of nutrients and phytochemicals and when combined with whole grains, become a complete protein. Being that there are thousands of bean species, I will name a few that are common and can be used in a variety of dishes. The darker the bean, the more nutrient dense. Here are some varieties you can pick up (dried is recommended): red kidney, black, white, navy, pinto, mung, lima, lentils (of all colors- each have their own unique flavor), chickpeas (garbanzo), and split pea. Beans are also great for diabetics as they help to control blood glucose levels; they are also good for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of many cancers.
Having a small selection of baking ingredients in your pantry is a good idea for when you want to make a batch of cookies or muffins. Avoid refined flours and sweeteners. The following are good to keep around: almond meal, sprouted flours (spelt, wheat, brown rice, buckwheat, barley, and chickpea), arrowroot (thickener), baking powder and baking soda (aluminum-free and non-GMO), dried unsweetened coconut, natural cocao powder and cocao nibs. Some good sweeteners are: brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar or nectar, medjool dates, date sugar, and Stevia. Other baking ingredients such as vanilla bean or extract (pure) and dried fruits (natural-organic and unsulfured and pesticide-free).