Having healthy pantry food and eating more natural sugars was what truly helped me cut back on refined sugar.
I’m a big snacker, through and through and there’s nothing I like more than having a snack while I’m watching a movie or with a cup of tea in the afternoon. So, when I decided to give up sugar, I knew my snacks were going to be the hardest.
Living in the UK it’s not as common to have pantries built into our kitchens. But that’s definitely on the list for my dream kitchen design! Because of that, I brought a freestanding pantry cupboard which is now filled with whole foods and natural sugar treats.
How dangerous is sugar to our health?
Our bodies don’t need added sugars. Glucose is essential to our body, but our body gets this from carbohydrates like fruit, potatoes and bread.
Too much sugar has been reported to cause chronic health conditions like heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. And it’s even been linked to Alzheimer’s.
According to the NHS, adults should be eating no more than 30g of free sugars (the equivalent of 7 sugar cubes). Choosing an item “low in sugar” is not beneficial as artificial sweeteners can be just as damaging to our health.
If you want to find out more you can get my popular breaking up with sugar webinar for free.
What are the best pantry staples?
When you’ve got healthy food to hand it can make it easier to pick that over a highly processed, sugary snack. Often when we’re hungry we’re not prepared to wait and want it instantly.
I always keep my pantry stocked with things like seeds, nuts, cacao powder and butter, superfood powders, and dried fruit. All things that I can make quick and easy snacks with so I always have something to hand. Or that can come with me when I’m out and about.
What can I make with things in my pantry?
The great thing about having a pantry is being able to stock it with food that has a long shelf life, like tinned food or flour.
Top 20 pantry food ideas
Great for using in granolas, roasted trail mix, energy balls. They’re low in sugar, high in fibre and a good source of heart-healthy fats.
A great snack on their own, with granola, or used for energy balls. They’re high in fat (mostly monosaturated fat – which helps to protect the heart). But provide a good source of fibre and protein and include vitamin E, selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
This is a must for me in my pantry. As a lover of chocolate, this helps to make the purest form of chocolate. Cacao powder is full of flavonoids, which have been shown to help reduce blood pressure. It may help increase insulin sensitivity to help reduce the risk of diabetes and is also a great source of iron, fibre, protein, magnesium and potassium.
Great for making homemade chocolate it’s a good source of iron, vitamin e and magnesium, as well as being full of antioxidants.
Acai berry powder
A great addition to smoothies or for making an Acai berry bowl. Acai berry contains a number of trace minerals including zinc, iron, and magnesium and it’s high in antioxidants.
Perfect for granolas, sprinkling on top of salads and adding to energy balls. These little seeds are high in protein and rich in healthy fats. They include vitamin e, zinc, selenium, vitamin b1 (thiamine) and many more.
Perfect for adding as a topping to salads, yoghurt or using them in granola. Just a small amount can provide you with zinc, magnesium and healthy fats.
A study in older adults who regularly ate walnuts found significant memory improvement. Ever noticed walnuts look like a brain?! They’re rich in antioxidants and healthy fats.
Dried fruit is more of a treat and eaten in moderation as it’s high in sugar. Even if it’s natural sugar. But they also contain potassium, iron, manganese, copper, and vitamin B6.
Medjool dates have a gorgeous sweet, caramel-like taste and texture and they make great treats. Enjoyed on their own or covered in raw chocolate, or stuffed with nut butter. Good for energy balls and are a source of calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, and potassium.
Naturally high in sugar, they’re good in moderation. Containing vitamin c, vitamin a, calcium, potassium and a good amount of fibre.
Loaded with fibre and known for helping to lower cholesterol, oats not only make a great bowl of porridge, but can be used in energy balls, bars, or with homemade granola. Oats also contain a number of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, iron and many more.
An alternative in baking to refined sugar it offers a few nutritional benefits. It’s still high in sugar, so moderation is key.
One of my favourite spices, I love the smell and the taste of cinnamon and add it to anything I can! Loaded with antioxidants like polyphenols, it contains anti-inflammatory properties and has been reported to decrease the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal. Helping to lower blood sugar levels.
You can use nut butter to add a little healthy fat to a snack like banana, apple or Medjool dates. Peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter are my favourites. And tahini for making falafels or chickpea burgers.
Chickpeas are versatile beans that can be roasted for a crunchy snack or used for a plant-based burger or to bulk up stews and curries. They’re rich in protein and fibre and are full of vitamins and minerals. Including iron, calcium, B vitamins, magnesium and more.
Even though I eat healthily I still like to add in extra superfood powders where I can. YourSuper is my go-to because each product only contains 5-6 ingredients and those ingredients are all superfoods, with no added artificial crap! My favourites are Gut Feeling, Super Greens, Forever Beautiful, Golden Mellow, Plant Collagen and Moon Balance.
Beans and legumes are a great addition to meals and contain a number of health benefits. I always like to make sure we have butter beans, black beans, and kidney beans in the pantry.
I love pasta and making sure we have wholemeal or gluten-free always on hand, as white pasta is a no go in our house. Especially with Neil being diabetic.
As a complete protein containing all nine amino acids, this has become a staple for plant-based eaters. It contains small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, has a low glycaemic index (so it releases energy slower) and is gluten-free.
Discovering the best way for you to create a healthy lifestyle can take time. Especially if you’re trying foods you’ve previously avoided, whether to the fear-mongering because of certain diets or you’ve just enjoyed eating the same things.
Try not to overload yourself. Take small steps. And celebrate all the small achievements.
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