14 March 2011


My favorite things

Sorry I've been out of touch.  We took a spontaneous family trip for a few days.  What a great mental health break!  We hiked, got dirty, stayed on a farm, and enjoyed each others' company.

I realized as I was driving home that I never posted my blog for Friday.  Well, some other day...

Anyway, back to some products I love.  Today I'm posting some staples in my kitchen.  I don't cook fancy.  It's beyond me.  But since I don't use many processed foods either, I rely on a few foundational ingredients so we always have something on hand.  Here are just a couple of my "must never ever run out of" items:

1.  Rice
     Carbs are good.  Carbs are bad.  Stay away.  We've heard it all, but the reality is that rice is a staple of many diets throughout the world, and strangely enough, most of these cultures do not have the obesity problems that we do.  Rice is not bad.  We invested in a good Japanese rice cooker (this one if you are interested), and we try to buy Japanese rice from an Asian grocery.  It makes a huge difference.  We make rice the basis of many of our meals, from stir fry to soup add-in, to mexican, or even plain.  It's a great way to bulk up just about anything you want to eat.

2.  Quinoa
   Since we've stopped cooking meat at home, I'm always looking for alternative sources of protein.  Quinoa (keen-wah) is a complete protein in itself, and it can be used in much the same way as rice.  It's a jiffy to make, and I usually pop in some vegetable bouillon for some added flavor.  It's a great base of many meals.

3.  Black beans
   We started eating beans and rice many many years ago when we were on the road to becoming debt free.  We took our mentor's advice literally:  Dave Ramsey, financial dude, is often heard saying, "beans and rice, rice and beans."  We found that not only is it an extremely frugal meal, it is so tasty!  Again, great base for many add-ins, and good source of protein.

4.  Peanut butter
     Natural peanut butter is an absolute must for us.  We're all big fans, and it's a great tummy filler upper.

5.  Trail mix
     On the same note, trail mix is another must.  Again, nut products are great tummy fillers, but many pre-made trail mixes have things in them like yogurt coated raisins, which are full of unnatural ingredients.  It is much easier and more economical to buy ingredients separately and make your own.  As an added bonus, creating your own mix is endlessly customizable, so no containers that have been picked through so there's only banana chips with a handful of coconut flakes.

6.  Honey
     Oh, how we love honey.  Fresh, raw honey is really unbeatable as an alternative sweetener.  It has not been processed, plus it is full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.  We put it on sandwiches or waffles, flavor our oatmeal, and add it to yogurt and smoothies.  Just be aware that most honey found in conventional grocery stores has been pasturized, taking away a lot of nutritional value (heat has negative effects on honey).  However, some people feel that eating raw honey carries a risk of ingesting harmful bacteria (although this is controversial).  Just be aware of they type of honey you want to buy and where to find it.

7.  Pure maple syrup
     Another alternative sweetener.  We don't really bother buying any syrup other than pure maple, as most other syrups can easily be made with sugar/corn syrup/water combinations.  It is expensive, but worth it to us as a useful whole food sweetener.

8.  Flour, yeast, and kosher salt
    For making bread, of course.  I've spoken before about my lifesaver breadmaking book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  It has changed our bread eating habit, so I am always sure to have the ingredients on hand to make a fresh loaf.  And just FYI, those three ingredients are all you need for a basic loaf.  It's pretty amazing.

9.  Eggs
    Another fantastic source of protein, and incredible options for meals for any time of day.  From frittatas to tortillas to fried rice, eggs make their way into our diet several times a week.

10.  Cheese
     Full of tummy-filling fat and protein, a couple pieces of cheese make a great snack.

The list could go on, but these are some basics.  Of course we keep baking supplies and spices on hand, as well as other canned goods, but the above items are must haves.  Keeps us fed and happy, which goes a long way in a house with three kids.

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