What is in an ND’s pantry? (Fresh foods not included here!)
Well, it’s actually what’s in MY pantry. As a Naturopathic Doctor I’m balancing nutrient dense, health-promoting foods with my personality – no fuss, no muss. The recipes I like are simple, don’t require a ton of effort, and have crowd-pleasing results.
You’ll notice I go back and forth in my recommendations. On the one hand I’m working hard to be budget friendly, and on the other I’ll recommend the pricier option because it’s either environmentally friendlier or is healthier (eg BPA free cans). The rare superstar item combines each of these categories.
Winter special: soups
Have you seen these box soups? Not broth, actual delicious soups. I stock these at my office for a snack, to compliment my lunch, and especially when I know I don’t have enough vegetables in my day.
Look for brands like Pacific (this is my favourite one: https://www.pacificfoods.com/organic-cashew-carrot-ginger-soup), Imagine, or Amy’s (in a can not a box, but BPA free).
These soups are really easy to find in any health food store or the “natural food” aisle of bigger grocery stores (Zehrs, Sobeys).
This is a top snack recommendation to busy patients (aren’t we all a tad too busy?) to get extra vegetables in.
Add fibre, carbs, and a bit of extra protein to any dish. I stock cans of these so that they’re ready to add. My husband recently bought a whole tray of the BPA free canned black beans from Costco, which makes the ideal option pretty cost effective. I know that dried beans may be even more ideal and cost effective, but I find they can be tricky to prepare in a way that doesn’t cause digestive upset. If you have a tried and true method please share in the comments, but so far cans work well for my preferences.
I use these for:
I also really like using walnuts (omega 3 brain food) and pumpkin seeds (powerful zinc punch), but pecans in particular are a bit more environmentally friendly than walnuts – they’re not as water-thirsty nor grown primarily in drought stricken California. Other great options: hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and peanuts (if well tolerated). When it comes to nuts, don’t overthink which ones have the “best” nutritional value – they are so close in terms of nutrients it becomes a moot point.
I use these for:
Eating raw/plain as a snack
combine (any nut/seed) with dates, vanilla, cocoa (and other combos) for powerballs as a sweet treat:
The real stuff. Avoid after 5pm for caffeine’s sake and a good night’s sleep. Combine with a few other things on the list for this amazing recipe:
I buy the rainforest friendly, BPA free one when I am able. I made the decision a long time ago that while I’m not happy with everything going on around the planet, I could at least vote with my dollar on a daily and consistent basis. So while I was a student for a very long time and know what it means to spare a dollar, and understand profoundly what a luxury some of these recommendations are, I make a conscious choice to contribute as I’m able to the things and products I believe in.
I find having canned coconut milk on hand lets me throw together a dessert (like the chocolate coconut tart, recipe above) or to make a curry (so many options, here’s one I love: https://elanaspantry.com/thai-chicken-soup/
Red lentils, dry, in bulk
Lentils are on my list of superfoods. They have phenomenal amounts of fiber, folate, minerals, and a hearty amount of protein in them (one cup cooked has 17gr of protein). Not to mention their cost per serving is LOW, so they are very accessible. To top off the good news, legumes (called pulses, technically) are grown in Canada, and contribute nitrogen to the soil, meaning they are an excellent crop rotation choice for farmers.
I use red lentils instead of any others because I find they cook up very quickly (unlike beans or other lentil varieties) and have a pretty neutral taste; that is they don’t taste quite as earthy as some lentils tend to.
My absolute favourite and low-effort red lentil recipe is this one; I whip it up constantly in the winter:
If you want to learn more about lentils and why they are on my superfoods list, I love this resource: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52
The ideal protein powder is one that you like the taste of. Really. I get asked all the time about which protein powder is best, but it does come down to some amount of preference. Vegan protein powders are more hypoallergenic, meaning they are less likely to cause a negative reaction (digestive or otherwise). They are usually made of a combination of rice and pea proteins. They also tend to be grittier, so if texture is important to you, you may not love vegan proteins. I recommend looking for one that is “pre-digested,” that is it’ll be easier on your stomach, like this one: http://www.genuinehealth.com/store/fermented-vegan-proteins#.WcUReGRSxhA
It uses stevia as a sweetener and doesn’t contain any unwanted filler ingredients.
Overall, I usually recommend a whey isolate protein powder. Whey protein is in the most accessible form, and the beta lactoglobulins and lactoferrin are immune system superstars – meaning they help keep the immune system strong. Further, the whey (as long as it is a whey isolate) is commonly very well tolerated even in people who don’t tolerate dairy. Often people are reacting to the casein or lactose in dairy, and in a high quality whey isolate you shouldn’t get casein. Note that there are a lot of products on the market that are called whey concentrate, which still contain other dairy components and may cause unwanted reactions. Very rarely, someone may not tolerate whey itself, regardless of purity – beware of that if you have unexplored underlying digestive concerns.
I use protein powder to augment my breakfast every day to make sure I’m starting my day with protein – it makes a big difference in my energy and concentration. I also add it to any veggie smoothie I make (I probably make a triple serving every 2-3 weeks or so as a vegetable boost. The servings keep well if I fill a mason jar right to the top with as little air as possible, and keep in the fridge.) I have even added my protein powder to oatmeal if I find I just have not been able to eat enough in the day and need a snack later on.
See my smoothie recipe here:
These are at the top of my superfoods list. As part of the Mediterranean diet that we have now proven is unbeatable when it comes to health benefits (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/adopt-a-mediterranean-diet-now-for-better-health-later-201311066846), these fish are small but mighty. I opt for sardines over salmon in part because of how cost effective they are, but also because they are lower on the food chain, meaning lesser bioaccumulation of undesirable things like mercury, PCBs, etc. (http://seafood.ocean.org/seafood/) (https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/05/is-canned-fish-as-good-for-you-as-fresh-fish/index.htm)
Give sardines a chance. Listen, if Jamie Oliver is cooking it, it’s going to be delicious. Check these out:
Does that not look good?
I would just encourage you to use sardines WITH the skin (omega 3) and bones (it builds YOUR bones! Calcium, magnesium, Vit D, etc)
Ok, not my pantry, but still a few staples I want to share with you. You need to know that frozen foods can be AS NUTRITIOUS as fresh! Sometimes even moreso: they are picked at peak freshness at peak season, and frozen right away to capture nutrition content, unlike out of season foods that are picked while unripe and have a long truck ride to ripen off the vine/tree/plant.
Frozen berries – these are on my superfoods list too. They offer anti-oxidants and polyphenols that science is showing over and over again to provide a multitude of health benefits.
Frozen greens – yep, sometimes in our house fresh greens go bad, despite our best intentions. Keeping frozen greens in the freezer lets me use them when I need to, for addition to chili, pasta, omelets, smoothies, etc. Think spinach, chards, broccoli. (Note spinach is on the Dirty Dozen list (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php#.WhNbs2Q-eAy)– as are blueberries and strawberries – organic frozen offers good bang for one’s buck.)
These things are my staples that I keep stocked.
What’s in your pantry?
What are your go-to recipes for busy nights?
Let’s get a great list going, to get through the winter together.