Try these tips for stocking your holiday pantry ('fridge and freezer, too). Keep yours filled with the basics and you’ll be ready for unexpected guests and impromptu gatherings all season long.
Stock up on a variety of shapes, like penne, spirals and bow tie. Include whole wheat or multigrain selections, too. Some “boutique” pastas contain novel ingredients such as bean flour, ground flax seed and other healthful ingredients which boost protein and fiber. And, don’t forget to fill the freezer - look for frozen ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi.
Tip: Top cheese ravioli with a bit of olive oil, chopped walnuts, and slivered apple. Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and black pepper for a restaurant-style entree.
Kidney, garbanzo, black, cannellini…the list is long! Packed with protein, fiber and folate – beans are a nutrition powerhouse. Did you know rinsing and draining canned beans reduces their sodium by 40%?
TIP: Add rinsed and drained canned beans to soups and salads or toss two or more varieties with garlic and light Italian dressing for a simple side dish.
Pouched Salmon and Tuna
For fresh flavor and easy preparation (no draining necessary!), try salmon and tuna in a pouch. Add to salads and pasta. Or tuck into whole wheat pitas, top baked potatoes or eat as a snack for extra protein and a helping of omega 3’s.
TIP: Mix tuna with capers, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and black pepper. Serve
with crispy flatbread for an impromptu appetizer.
Canned, frozen and dried fruit
When you’re “rounding out” a meal, have ready-to-go foods on hand. Canned fruit, like pineapple, mandarin oranges, and peaches give a soup meal a welcome nutrient-boost! Layer defrosted frozen cherries and yogurt for a quick dessert or add dried cranberries to wild rice, too.
TIP: Top a block of feta cheese with a drizzle of olive oil, basil and crushed red pepper. Surround with seasonal dried fruits such as dates and figs – add a few almonds and whole grain crackers for a Mediterranean-style appetizer.
Canned and frozen vegetables
Fresh produce can lose quality if you take a night off from cooking, but canned and frozen varieties are more forgiving. Combine an assortment of frozen veggies with broth and seasoning for an easy soup or add to pasta or casseroles.
TIP: Add bite-sized pieces of steamed asparagus or broccoli to mac and cheese!
Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios….whatever you fancy! Nuts add great flavor and crunch to just about anything.
TIP: Toast nuts for added flavor, then sprinkle over salads, rice or barley, cooked vegetables, even soups.