Healthy eats

10 pantry staples for food lovers on a health kick

Jan. 26, 2012 at 9:52 AM ET

Sabine Scheckel/Getty Images stock /
Keep quinoa on hand to help make healthy, delicious meals.

It’s a lot easier to eat healthy meals and snacks if you have exactly what you need at your fingertips. While you probably already know to stock your pantry and fridge with fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains, the 10 items below not only up the health quotient, but can add a ton of versatility to your meals.

Acai berries: These deep purple berries are loaded with antioxidants and anthocyanins. Buy them in juice form for a healthier alternative to sugary drinks.

Agave syrup: A natural sweetener made from the sap of the Mexican agave plant. It’s great for sweetening drinks, but don’t use it for baking.

Bison meat: In addition to being lower in fat than its counterparts, bison also has a high iron content, making it an ideal choice when you’re craving red meat. Opt for grass-fed to ensure that the bison were raised humanely with an antibiotic-free diet.

Black rice: Also known as Forbidden Rice, it not only contains anthocyanins, an antioxidant also found in blueberry and blackberries, but it cooks up in half the time of brown rice.

Bulgur wheat: Made from pre-cooked wheat berry, bulgur has more fiber than rice and a low glycemic index. It’s also hearty enough to use as a substitute for meat in recipes. 

Chia seeds: This is a better source of omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds. Sprinkle them in yogurt or in salad.

Coconut milk: Contains lutein which can promote eye health. To save on calories, use the light variety in curries and other cream-based sauces.

Expeller pressed olive oil: Look for “expeller pressed” on the label of your next bottle of EVOO to ensure that it’s been processed without solvents or toxic chemicals.

Quinoa: A complete protein, it contains all the essential amino acids we need for muscle and bone development.

Turmeric: Tumeric root contains curcumin, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation and certain cancers. Use it in juice or powder form. (Curry powder contains tumeric.)

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Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.