Healthy Swaps for Your Pantry
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
When you’ve got a pantry well-stocked with healthy items, putting together a quick meal or healthy snack is a snap. Pantry staples usually include grains, canned goods and snack items, and since they’re items that you turn to again and again, you want to get the most nutritional benefit, too. Here are some simple swaps you can make with your everyday staples to make your pantry just a little bit healthier:
- Pasta is an easy start to a quick meal. If you’re using regular pasta, though, you might want to think about swapping it for the healthier whole-grain version so you can pick up some extra fiber.
- White rice makes a quick side dish, but there are other healthier quick-cooking options. Try quick brown rice, quinoa, millet or cracked wheat instead. Their cooking times are similar to white rice, but you’ll get some extra fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Canned soups are handy, but they tend to be high in salt and low in protein. Instead, swap them for some cans of low-sodium soup stock, and maybe some canned beans and tomatoes. You’ll have a great start to a healthy, hearty soup.
- White flour, like white rice and regular pasta, lacks fiber. Swap in some whole wheat flour instead to get the benefit of the whole grain. You can also whirl whole rolled oats in the blender into a flour and use to replace some of the regular flour in your recipes, or give your baked goods a nutrition boost by stirring in some protein powder.
- Canned tuna is a handy ingredient and, if it’s water-packed and low sodium, it’s fine. But try swapping in some canned salmon once in a while. It’s wild and ocean-caught, and it has more omega-3 fats than canned tuna.
- Chips satisfy the craving for salt and crunch, but they’re usually high in fat. For healthier snacking, swap in low-fat whole grain crackers, whole grain rice cakes or roasted soy nuts.