Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Essentials: The Pantry Must-Haves

More often that not, recipes call for an insane amount of ingredients that you only use once in your lifetime and then leave to feed bacteria in the refrigerator. For example, if you never eat pimiento olives then the likelihood of you being left with a moldy jar after a Greek cookout is relatively high.

Some days I wake up and I'm too lazy to think about what to cook and I always fall back on making the same-old, same-old quinoa with feta cheese and spinach. The fact is that no matter how many times I make that dish, I can never get bored of it. It's like good pasta, only healthier.

Here is a list of staples that I always keep on hand and can be used to whip up a quick and healthy meal:

Soy sauce (low sodium)
Worchestershire sauce
Black pepper (High grade Sarawak or Malabar pepper, fresh peppercorns)
All kinds of olive oil, from light to medium, good grade to mid-level
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Sea salt
Greek kalamata olives
Dried thyme
Curry powder blend
Italian chili flakes
Low sodium, organic free-range chicken broth
Ground turkey
Chicken breasts
Whole wheat penne pasta
Canned tuna
Canned diced tomatoes
Bagged salad leaves
Bagged spinach leaves
Frozen mixed vegetables
Bagged broccoli
Fresh tomatoes on vine or cherry tomatoes
Lemon juice
Minced ginger
Minced garlic
Pearl Onions
Chow mein noodles
Feta Cheese (Fat-free)
Good bread loaves (you can freeze it and easily nuke it for 20 seconds wrapped in a wet paper towel to defrost and whack it in an oven for 7 mins)
Here's examples of how you can whip up easy meals:

  • Quinoa with spinach, ground turkey and feta cheese - marinade ground turkey in soy sauce, pepper and dried basil and stir fry. Toss with cooked quinoa and wilted spinach and a tablespoon of crumbled feta.
  • Tuna melts
  • Penne pasta tossed with olives, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, tuna, chili flakes and salt and pepper
  • Penne pasta with diced tomato and basil and Parmigiano
  • Fried rice with mixed vegetables
  • Fried Chinese noodles - chow mein noodles with chicken breast cubes, soy sauce and mixed vegetables
  • Quinoa with grilled chicken breasts - rub chicken breasts with chili flakes, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, chuck it on the grill and serve with cooked quinoa and steamed vegetables
  • Salad with tomatoes, grilled chicken and bread
  • Turkey burgers!

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