As this year of #mondayhealthbasics post is drawing to a close, I have come to realize one big thing: my work focuses on the power of good food and talking #foodismedicine. My area of interest lies in reducing overall inflammation, and keeping chronic diseases at bay in order to help you fuel your good life. It's about quantity of life, with an emphasis on quality.
Today's post is meant to start at the very beginning. It has occurred to me that this essential primer on how to eat the good foods has never been addressed. Today, we're talking stocking your pantry with the essentials.
I often get a quizzical look when I share my business name with folks. I realize Good Food sounds very generic, and it's meant to: as a food loving human, I tend to pull ideas and ways of thinking about food from many different camps, never adhering to one strict camp or another. This has always been about the good food + you, and how good food is good enough, and that good enough is really enough. There's nothing flashy, nothing onerous or unattainable in this content: it's really simplifying things and making good food an easy, practical and attainable skill.
As a student of the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, my work is steeped in science. As a food loving human and mom, my approach to nourishment is through the lens of Traditional Foods, deeply influenced by the Weston A. Price Foundation. I'm a big believer in Just. Eating. Real. Food. and will say many times over, let's keep it simple. And play with our food.
We all have similar scenarios in kitchens across this country, when on weeknights we have errands to run, children who need to tend to homework, activities to drive to and from, bills to pay, teams to coach, laundry to put away and work to catch up on. How is it that we're supposed to also have dinner on the table? And a good one at that? (Remember this one, Why do they want dinner every single night?)
Having a well stocked pantry is the key to simplifying, the key to having good ingredients at the ready in order to pull something together in a scant 20-25 minute window on those nights. (OK in our house, I'm happy if I can dedicate 30-40 minutes. 20 minutes seems a bit too unrealistic for me and frankly, adds to my stress levels.)
Having a well stocked fridge and freezer
can also be that make or break thing,
helping you get a good meal together in good time.
We'll go over some of those ideas here in the post.
Whether you're new to the idea of J.E.R.F. or traditional food prep, here are my recommendations on good things to keep at hand, as your staples. I'm not the first person to say this, but a well stocked pantry is the key to easy meals. This is about reconnecting with food, having good ingredients to make meal planning and prep a breeze, and a practical way to make food a priority in your life. How can what we put in our bodies three times a day not have a tremendous impact on our overall health?
THE GOOD FOODS PANTRY
- top quality cold pressed olive oil (Blue Door Oil & Vinegar is my favourite place in town)
- cold pressed coconut oil
- coconut milk and coconut cream (BPA free lining)
- apple cider vinegar (raw or 'with mother')
- balsamic vinegar
- good quality nut butters (1 or 2 ingredients on label)
- canned fish (BPA free lining – canned sardines are my favourites; lowest on food chain, less toxins)
- dried lentils
- dried beans (navy beans the only beans that are ok on the GAPS protocol)
- dried grains you like (bonus points if you purchase sprouted grains!)
- sundried tomatoes
- top quality sea salt
- seaweed (lots of different kinds!)
- teas (lots of different kinds – try some of these liver loving brews)
- coffee (if you drink it – I love it! make sure it's organic)
- dry spices (my tops are a good chili powder, paprika, oregano, fennel, nigella seeds, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, dill, parsley, turmeric, cinnamon, hot peppers, cumin, cardamom, coriander seed)
- good quality local honey
- fresh fruit, in season (I refer to this list when deciding on organic or not)
- dried fruit (choose organic – it's guaranteed to be unsulphured)
THE EXTRA PANTRY GOODIES (you know you've arrived if these are in your pantry!)
- dried nettle
- medicinal mushrooms (reishi, chaga, maitake, lions mane, etc)
- dried shiitake mushrooms
- cacao butter (in coffee! Best! Butter! Coffee!)
- cacao powder
- collagen powder from grass-fed animals
- popcorn (great emergency munchie – make sure it's organic)
- nutritional yeast
- other herbs like astragalus root, dandelion root, shizandra, maca powder, lucuma powder, mangosteen powder (depends on your current health concerns – I can help figure this piece out)
- butter (it's a question of good/better/best with conventional/organic/pastured)
- eggs from happy chickens (remember this post?)
- good quality cheese (raw dairy is my favourite, but I always have some goat cheese on hand too)
- maple syrup
- full fat milk and cream
- full fat yogurt (make your own greek version!)
- creme fraiche (I have a super easy cheat's way to make this good stuff – it will change your life)
- ferments (either purchased or homemade)
- sprouted flour or sprouted nut flours
- every week, I pick three vegetables to keep on hand for meals (organic when I can; consult this list to help you make the decision!)
When it comes to stocking your freezer, I have a few caveats to add here. I am working on the concept of a capsule freezer, kind of like a capsule wardrobe: tossing in small portions of some easy, simple ingredients and flavours that will effortlessly dress up a meal, or add nourishing depth to a quick supper.
How I do it: I make a batch of something and freeze it in an ice cube tray, or portion in 1-2 cup amounts in to freezer bags. That way, they're easy to dig out of the freezer whether or not I just need a little bit, or a whole 2 cups' worth for a quick nutrient dense recipe. Curious to get the idea behind batch cooking? Look no further. Click on some of these ideas below to get to a recipe, or a how-to.
- beef (locally pasture raised is best – read here why if you are wanting nutrient density) – we order a quarter beef every year to make it more affordable
- pork (locally pasture raised again is best – we order a half every year to make it more affordable in the long run)
- chicken (sustainably raised is best – I have whole chickens, chicken thighs with bones and skin, and for quick easy meals, I keep some boneless chicken thighs on hand)
- wild caught frozen fish
- frozen berries
- frozen veggies
- meat stock – I batch cook this often
- sprouted bread
- pesto in ice cubes
- blitzed pulse paste cubes
- roasted extra squash or pumpkin I keep on hand
My weekly grocery trips now are usually just stocking up on those items from this list that have been used up, along with fresh fruit and vegetables for the meals I have planned for the week.
Interested in getting a handle on meal planning? Read this article.
That my friend, is what you'd find on any given day were you to peek in to my pantry or refrigerator. It has taken me a number of years to get here; if you're new to this, consider starting with a few items and getting into the notion of playing with that food. Click on any of these ideas I have listed today in order to get to a recipe or an article that could make this make more sense for you. This is really a kind of compendium if you will of some of this past year's articles for this series.
You know what I'm going to say, don't you.