Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pantry and Grocery and Recipes

Renee asked me to detail what I have in my pantry and fridge and what I do at the grocery store, as well as sources for good recipes.

First, on the recipes, Mollie Katzen is author of The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking), which I've enjoyed for decades. I just googled the title and found to my joy that she has a whole website, and I'd say you can probably trust anything on there to be good. Now whether it's Nutritarian or not, well, let's just say that she has some awesome desserts in the cookbook that I won't be looking at anytime soon. Click on her name above to explore. In just clicking around a bit I found "Lentil Soup with a Hint of Fruit," "Swedish Cabbage Soup," and "White Bean and Collard Greens Soup" (with less oil if possible) very promising!

The Eat to Live book and the cookbook portion of Eat For Health   at have some very good recipes I've already tried here and even before. GARDEN STUFFED VEGETABLES is a great recipe, and I look forward to making it again when the bags of peppers are marked down at the grocery.

I tend to do a lot of cooking "off the cuff," often googling ingredients in combination to see what I can come up with (like CAULIFLOWER CURRY recently), then using the online recipes just for inspiration as I head out on my own. Cooking the Nutritarian way takes good advantage of this kind of instinct, since so many combinations of vegetables and fruits work so well in salads, stir fries, soups, and smoothies.

I'm a little wary of vegan websites, in part because of all the baggage that goes with being a vegan (usually earth-worship-level PETA activism and that kind of thing). I really don't see a lot of advantage in using all kinds of soy faux foods when a little bit of plain lowfat yogurt or pork or a grating of parmesan cheese is called for. No "tofurkey" for me for Thanksgiving! In fact, I was a little afraid my family would make fun of me for having tofu in my stir fry today. But I'm a Crunchy Con (see here, too) so I share a lot of territory with these folks, too. Nevertheless, the vegans have some good things going, particularly the raw food ones with their smoothies I'm happy to take inspiration from. As I find good recipes or sites I'll share them through this blog, as I have already.

Now to the groceries.

I think to maintain a somewhat varied Nutritarian way of eating, the pantry should always have these things:
  • canned beans of several types
  • dry beans of two or more types
  • salsa in reserve
  • peanut butter (I haven't yet experimented with almond butter and things like that)
  • nuts and seeds of several types (raw is best, but I like roasted ones, too--not eliminating salt yet)
  • dried fruits of several types (raisins, craisins, apricots, dates, . . .)
  • canned fruits of several types (pineapple, peaches, apricots, pears, all in juices if possible)
  • canned veggies if you like them (beets, corn, and peas are about the only ones I tolerate besides tomato things)
  • canned and jarred tomato products (diced, paste, and Ragu-type pasta sauces, V-8)
  • canned soups with the right numbers (vegetarian or high-fiber choices; Progresso lentil is one of my favorites)
  • canned tuna, salmon, maybe chicken breast if you use it
  • whole grains (oats, barley, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa)
  • healthy crackers (Ry-Krisp, etc.)
  • lots of herbs and spices
  • vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white, cider, and I have homemade tarragon of several types)
  • good oils (olive, sesame, canola, peanut)
  • strongly-flavored things to use in small quantities (olives, capers, sundried tomatoes in oil, horseradish, sherry, white and red wine, beer, rum, liqueurs)
In the freezer:
  • fresh frozen fruits of all types for smoothies (We're blessed to freeze tart and sweet cherries, peaches, and blackberries from our garden. Be sure to keep bananas in here!)
  • bagged or boxed vegetables (green beans, peas, broccoli, mixtures, and corn are my staples, but I get asparagus, brussels sprouts, pearl onions, carrots, etc. sometimes)
  • fresh herbs you can't use before they'll dry out or spoil in the fridge or in the room (Robert Farrar Capon has in one of his cooking books a great idea I want to try with the last of our herb harvest--pack the fresh herbs into plastic freezer bags, tightly "rolled" and secured. When needed, just shave off some with a knife. This is great for chives, basil, cilantro, tarragon, and others that don't keep well dry.)
  • leftovers of great dishes you made too much of (I regularly save half of a smoothie for another day)
  • bread products you're using slowly (small whole-wheat bagels or tortillas, Arnold's Sandwich Thins, etc.)
  • plain lean fish and poultry and beef and pork to use or to feed the family
  • unhealthy things like meatballs, frozen lasagne, etc. to feed the family in a hurry (but feeding the rest of the family is for another post . . .)
In the fridge:
  • Condiments of all kinds (salsa, mustards, horseradish, jams and jellies, ketchup, etc.)
  • Tofu if you like it
  • Flax seed meal
  • ALWAYS a lot of fresh dark greens (It took me two weeks to get through a three-pound bag of spinach from Costco, but I finished off a head of bok choy for the family's lunch today, and this week I'm working on a bunch of curly kale. You don't want to have too much of the same thing too often, but you don't want it going bad while you're working through it all. So I say go with something new each week, go with something on sale, go with something you've got in mind for a particular kind of recipe.)
  • Carrots, peppers, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, radishes, sprouts, celery, cabbage (keeps a long time), any interesting veggies the store has on sale or that looks good. (I got jicama, snow peas, and mung bean sprouts yesterday.)
  • Fruits that refrigerate well (grapes, lemons and limes, strawberries, blueberries, e.g.)
  • Whole wheat or corn tortillas
  • Leftovers of large quantities of soup or skillet items you made earlier in the week, for convenient lunches and so forth. As you can see from the blog, I thrive on these!
On the counter:
  • Tomatoes, winter squash, some peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes and regular potatoes
  • ALWAYS have on hand oranges or other citrus, bananas, and apples, with more exotic ones as the season provides (pineapple, pears, plums, peaches, grapefruit, clementines)
At the grocery, besides the things I need for the family, I scan the health foods aisle for things I'm running out of (barley, flax seed meal) or interesting staples to have around (canned veggie soups). I check the frozen and fresh fish areas for things on sale I can enjoy. I check the deli for high-flavor things to add to salads, especially (olive bar items, feta cheese). And I spend a lot of time in the produce section, treating myself to things that look especially good and patting myself on the back for really good deals.

If you keep in mind that every day you need to work toward a pound of salad veggies raw and a pound of cooked veggies, a cup or more of beans, four or more fruits, a cup of grain or starchy veggie, an ounce of nuts, a tablespoon of flax seed meal, and that you want no more than a serving of animal product every other day or so, you know what you need to get and to keep on hand.

Does that help? :-)

1 comment:

I'd love to know what you think of these or if you have suggestions for improvements!