Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Essential Ingredients To Keep on Hand At Home

Soft boiled eggs broken open to reveal the yolk inside. Eggs are a versatile food that can compliment any meal.
Eggs are incredibly versatile - a staple ingredient I always have on hand.
Image: Shutterstock
Cooking for yourself can be a fun, empowering, and educational experience. It’s important to learn how to nurture your body in healthy ways as an adult, but knowing where to start can be tricky. Here are some staples that can serve as the base of many easy-to-make dishes. Be sure to pick these up on your next trip to the market!

Eggs – Eggs can be added to anything and serve as an easy way to get protein in your diet. You can eat them for breakfast or dinner and add them to just about everything. A fried egg atop a hearty kale salad? I don’t mind if I do! A soft-boiled or hard-boiled egg for a daytime snack? Heavenly!

Cheese – Cheese is another essential item you can add to just about any dish or eat alone. It’s easy to make a snack with cheese if you just add crackers, veggies, apple or toasted bread for a meal. What’s your favorite type of cheese? I love sampling the gourmet cheese section at the store each week and trying new things.

Bacon – Bacon is another awesome ingredient that can be used in so many ways--just don't eat it ALL the time. You can put it in sandwiches, breakfast dishes, salads and pastas. You can utilize it in a multitude of ways or eat it alone. I love adding the Trader Joe’s Peppered Turkey Bacon to chopped Brussels sprouts for a spicy breakfast side.

Bananas – I may have a slight banana problem. I recently got braces, and my morning staple breakfast has become smoothies, which seem to always call for banana. My personal favorite is blending one banana, 2T cocoa powder, 2T almond butter, a handful of frozen blueberries, and 1.5 c almond milk for the perfect chocolaty start to the day!

Veggies – Although it’s hard to keep fresh veggies for very long, you can always pick up some frozen vegetables that can be added to a variety of dishes—I always do this with peas and corn. For fresh veggies, I usually have at least one leafy green on hand (kale or spinach, usually), carrots (they keep for quite some time), and onion (I prefer yellow or sweet—they’re so versatile!). Plus, even if the kale starts to turn before I can finish it, it’s easy to turn into some crunchy and delicious kale chips!

Tomatoes – Not only do they add a pop to your dish, but they are also a great accent and starting point for a base for any dish. You can use them for pastas, savory pies, or paired with a sandwich. And of course, the cherry or grape varieties are fabulous all on their own. Try to get tomatoes when they are in-season, however; the out-of-season tomatoes will be far less flavorful.

Which essential ingredients do you keep in your kitchen?