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Here is part two of my pantry basics post….and I have compiled the whole thing together as a handy checklist you can take to the grocery store!

Herbs & Spices:

Learning to use fresh and/or dried spices can enhance flavor and your capacity for cooking immensily.  Start with a few and then build from there.  This list is not extensive but a place to strat A note on fresh vs dried, fresh counts in your goal to get more leafy greens in your diet and nothing is better than a handful of fresh herbs but in a pinch dry is flavorful, can displace salt and often chock full of antioxidants. Here are some herbs to start with along with their health benefits:
Basil-aid digestion & flatulence (mint family), holy basil is anti-cancer
Bay leaf
Black pepper
Cinnamon– antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,
Cayenne/Red Pepper– anti- inflammatory, increase satiety and boost metabolism
Garlic powder– helps with high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure since anticlotting affect. TIP: Let sit for 10 min post chopping  so that the phytochemicals have time to activate.
Ginger powder– anti-inflammatory, decrease nausea (try candied ginger on your kids next car trip), in terms of amounts 1” squared fresh root is often used in trials.
Italian seasoning– has Oregano, which is top antioxidant
Mint– helps with indigestion
Mustard seeds– anticancer,anti-inflammatory
Nutmeg
Rosemary– high in flavanoids (antioxidant)- anti-cancer-
Sage/Thyme also high in flavanoids.
Sea salt– less sodium per tsp than coarse salt, contain trace minerals eg iodine, magnesium, potassium since straight from the sea and minimally processed.
Vanilla extract- anti-oxidant, helps with digestion and said to be an aphrodisiac (pods vs extract) go natural vs artificial flavoring.

Nuts & Seeds:

One of my favorite food groups- my pantry always has jars of various nuts and seeds to nibble on or throw in sweet or savory dishes.  Nuts contain heart healthy fats but are still high in calories and fat, so if you looking to lose weight be mindful of your portion size (eg. 12-24 almonds). Nuts and seeds are a great source of FIBER and protein and great portable snack.

Almonds– tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin
Cashews– lower fat nut, copper, magnesium, antioxidant
Flaxseed– great source of Omega 3,contains soluble fiber which is great to keep things moooving.
Pecans & Walnuts– anti-inflammatory, good for heart health, bone health
Pumpkin seeds– Omega 3, mild flavor
Sunflower & Sesame seeds– vitamin E, and phytochemicals

Try making your own trail mix or getting creative by adding seeds to stir-fries and/or nuts to grain dishes.

Dried Fruit:

Moderation is key here (just like with nuts) but dried fruit can be a great way to get your 2 cups of fruit a day (1/2 C dried= 1 C fresh). Like fresh fruit, contains lots of fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium and folate BUT more calories per serving than fresh, and some dried fruits are preserved with sulfite, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people. TJ’s sells un-sulfored dried fruit.  Dried fruit can help with sweet tooth as well and makes a great dessert.
Raisins
Dried cranberries
Dried apricots

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