The other day I decided I wanted to try and tackle the art of cooking a whole fish, Gwyneth’s recipe from her book It’s All Good for Grilled Red Snapper to be exact. So I went on a semi-wild-goose-chase, and 3 stops later, I landed in an Asian fish market two towns over, and found myself amidst a sea of whole fish staring at me. I’ll share that adventure next week, along with the results, but for this post I wanted to talk about the staples I’ve come to stock in my kitchen, which allowed me to throw together this whole-fish dinner rather pain-free.
Since I had spent a couple of hours tracking down the fish, the last thing I wanted to do was go to another store and get the fixings for a side dish — thankfully because I now keep these staples on hand, I was able to throw together a very impressive and delicious dinner for my family, quickly (once I secured my fish). Here’s my list of 20 staple items I’ve come to keep on hand, which allow me to eat healthy and cook clean. Your list may vary, but I think we can all agree that this is a good place to start.
Fruits and veggies
- Apples: The base for all my juices, I use 1-2 a day
- Lemons: From juicing, to marinating, to dressings, I use lemons every single day
- Carrots: Another great staple in my daily juice concoctions, I now stock up and buy the organic 10lb bag from Costco, which is a great value
- Cucumbers: Great in salads or in juices, I prefer the mini-seedless ones for their mild taste
- Plenty of fresh herbs: We have a garden of several herbs, and also buy fresh herbs to supplement, but they are a huge staple in flavoring most meals, in lieu of processed marinades, dressings, and loads of salt and pepper
- Sweet potatoes: Great when roasted and served as a healthy side, or pureed for soups, or sliced and baked into chips, sweet potatoes are chock full of healthy benefits and are a sweeter alternative to the average white potato
- Coconut Oil: Use it in dressings, smoothies, when baking and cooking, in your coffee, and heck, even use it as a moisturizer! There’s almost nothing this oil can’t do
- Sesame Oil: Excellent in dressings and when toasted in a pan for just a couple of minutes, it gets the most amazing flavor that any other processed seasoning just can’t beat. I add it to roasted veggies, steamed rice, and on salads to add the most amazing flavor
- Raw Honey: Use it in your coffee, to make simple syrup, and as a sugar substitute in some baking recipes, it’s expensive but is worth it!
- Quinoa: Warm it with milk and top with maple syrup for a sweet comforting breakfast, cook it and serve plain as a dinner side, or toss it in salads for some texture and crunch at lunchtime, there’s so much you can do with this grain
- Soy Sauce and a range of Vinegars: A great way to add flavor to what may otherwise be very simple and even bland meals, a good combo of vinegars and oil and a bit of soy sauce goes a long way in packing a flavor punch
- Gluten Free Flour: If you decide you want to cook and bake gluten free, keep some type of gluten free flour on hand at all times
- Raw nuts: Soaked in water, are great as a snack, topped on salads, and tossed in granola, there’s a million and one uses for nuts!
- Maple Syrup: Real maple syrup is all-natural and free of refined and overly-processed sugars which are found in the fake stuff. Plus it’s great as a sugar substitute in many baking and cooking needs. Even tastes great in dressings!
- Almond and/or Soy Milk: If you’re trying to go dairy free and eliminate cow’s milk, have plenty on hand and in the fridge
- Goat’s Milk Yogurt: Again, if you’re trying to go dairy free, this substitute for cow’s milk yogurt is not technically dairy free, but is much easier for your system to digest than cow’s milk yogurt
- Ground Turkey and Organic Whole Chickens: If you’re not going vegan, and still need your fix of meat, make sure to always have both in the freezer
- Fish (Salmon, Bass, whichever white fish you prefer): A great source of protein and low in calories, fresh fish makes for a healthy starting point for a good clean meal
- Vegenaise: Spread on toast and topped with avocado for an afternoon snack, or as the base of many dressings, I’ve come to love the flavor of this vegan spread
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