CHICAGO, Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- If you're aiming to eat healthy in 2015, make those New Year's resolutions a reality by stocking your kitchen with the right basics. CanolaInfo's Top 10 Pantry Essentials provide the building blocks to a wide variety of good-for-you recipes that are quick and easy to boot.
"Keeping healthy foods on hand is one of the easiest ways to get started with a healthy eating plan," said registered dietitian Sarah-Jane Bedwell, author of "Schedule Me Skinny." "CanolaInfo's list of pantry basics is a great foundation for whipping up delicious, healthy meals all year round."
- Canola Oil – This kitchen workhorse is one of the healthiest cooking oils available and ideal for almost any kind of recipe. It contains the least saturated fat and most plant-based omega-3 fat of all common cooking oils, plus its neutral flavor and light texture works well with many different dishes and styles of cooking.
- Vinegar – The acid in vinegar, including white wine, red wine or balsamic, brightens and balances flavors. It's key to salad vinaigrette, of course, but a splash can also add depth and sweetness to soups and sautes like Barley with Caramelized Vegetables.
- Peanut Butter – An inexpensive source of protein, peanut butter is a healthy addition to baked goods such as No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars. It's also a quick base for Asian-style peanut sauce on noodles or meats, not to mention the classic snack with sliced apples!
- Lower-Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth – Boost flavor by using broth for homemade soup in a flash, whole grains or a braised dish like Cajun Garlic Chicken Thighs. Store-bought broth tends to be higher in salt so look for the lower-sodium varieties.
- Honey or Brown Sugar – Sweetener isn't just for baked goods. Use a touch to help caramelize foods and bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables.
- Whole Wheat Flour – Essential for baking, flour is also useful for thickening sauces, binding veggie pancakes and more. The white whole-wheat variety, if you can find it, is a great way to add extra whole grains but maintain a light texture.
- Basic Spices – No need to buy a whole rack's worth of spices. For most dishes, you'll be good to go with pepper, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, garlic flakes, thyme and an Italian herb blend.
- Whole Grains – Packed with nutrition and filling, keep these on hand to round out any meal: brown rice, whole grain pasta, oats, barley and quinoa. Salmon Quinoa Patties are a simple and delicious way to incorporate a whole grain.
- Quick Protein – Canned or dried beans and lentils as well as canned salmon and tuna are perfect pantry staples: nutritious, affordable and versatile. Toss them into salads, mix with whole grains or mash them into burgers. Lentil Burritos and Mexican Baked Eggs are two easy examples.
- Canned Tomatoes – An essential building block for sauces, soups and stews, canned tomatoes are faster (and most times of the year tastier) to use than peeling, seeding and chopping your own. Again, select ones that are lower in sodium.
"These are ingredients I reach for again and again," Bedwell added. "With a well-stocked pantry and a little bit of planning, it's truly possible to prepare healthy meals in minutes."
Each flavorful recipe mentioned above is made with heart-smart canola oil and other pantry essentials. For more great recipes featuring CanolaInfo's Top 10 Pantry Essentials, visit www.canolainfo.org.