The Well-Stocked Pantry: A Cook’s First Line of Healthy Defense

Coach clients to spring-clean and restock their cupboards, freezers and spice cabinets with sensible, versatile ingredients. These grab-and-go lists and how-to guides provide an approachable game plan for getting started.

Having the appropriate ingredients on hand to jumpstart a basic repertoire of dependable breakfast, lunch and dinner go-to meals or snacks can make a world of difference when you roll up to the intersection of “Hangry” and “Now!” The choices we make at hunger’s flashpoint are not always the best, which is why encouraging clients to give their fridge and pantry the occasional makeover is a good move that can help deter our compulsive falls from grace.

In the following article, chef–dietitian Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN, presents some building blocks for getting started. Try these strategies for yourself first, and then share with clients who seem eager to make some small but meaningful changes in their eating habits.

You can catch the author live this summer at the IDEA® World Convention in San Diego (June 27–July 1, 2018) when she presents at the IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit and during the main World program. For more information and session descriptions, go to ideafit.com/fitness-conferences/idea-world-fitness-convention.

How to Make Your Food Taste Delicious!

Herbs and spices can be daunting for the noncook, but they don’t have to be. Let these flavor profiles be your guide, and use any combination of the spices to add some seriously delicious flavor. Experiment and mix and match until you find your perfect combo. Start out small—½ teaspoon of each dried herb or spice and 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs—and go from there. It’s easy to add flavor, but it can be a challenge to pull back on herbs and spices once they have been added to a dish. Here, by cuisine type, are a few herb and spice groupings that you can play with:

  • Mediterranean: garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, bay leaves, nutmeg, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, marjoram, sage, saffron, mint.
  • Middle Eastern: allspice, oregano, marjoram, mint, sesame seeds, garlic, cinnamon, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cilantro, saffron, tahini.
  • Moroccan: red pepper flakes, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cilantro, mint, saffron, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric.
  • Asian: lemongrass, ginger, mint, kaffir lime leaves, lime, curry powder, turmeric, coriander seeds, chilies, garlic, cilantro, five-spice powder, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, miso, scallions.
  • Indian: red pepper flakes, chilies, saffron, mint, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cilantro, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom seeds, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry powder, onion.
  • Latin: chilies, oregano, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, cilantro, adobo, citrus, garlic, onion.
  • Salt and black pepper are used across cuisines.

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Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN

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