10 Things I Always Keep In My Kitchen For Healthy Dinners

Pantry essentials

November 13, 2020

By Beth Lipton

I develop recipes for a living, so there is almost always a truly weird amalgamation of foods in my kitchen. (Honestly, one of my nightmares is someone coming to do one of those stories where they take a picture of the inside of your fridge and ask you to explain yourself.)

Because of my job, I often make meals out of either my work product (bonus!) or the scraps left over from my work projects (sometimes a challenge).

Still, no matter what story or project I’m working on, there are a few non-negotiables in my kitchen at all times to make sure I can put together a healthy meal, quickly and without hassle.

1. Eggs

If you follow me on Instagram, you know all about my love affair with eggs, specifically large, pastured eggs. I eat them All. The. Time. They can be the basis for a high-protein meal, or an added protein bonus on top of, well, everything.

2. Pre-Peeled Garlic

Garlic flavors everything and my dirty little secret is that I often buy it pre-peeled for faster, easier prep.

Related: Yes, It’s Okay to Love Garlic Powder

3. Lemons

Lemons help make a quick salad dressing and they brighten up sauces. I use the zest in rubs for chicken or fish. And I love a squeeze of lemon in my seltzer.

4. Carrots, Celery, and Onions

You will always, always find carrots, celery, and onions in my crisper. Yes, this is technically three items, but together they are the basis for mirepoix, a French flavor base, so it sort of counts as one? You can also always roast carrots or slice up carrots and celery and serve them with dip.

Grilled chicken sausage cauliflower rice
Photo Credit: The Real Food Dietitians

5. Cauliflower Rice

I always have a bag of cauliflower rice in my freezer. A piece of fish or a couple of fried eggs on top of some garlicky cauliflower rice can make a decent dinner in a pinch.

6. Grain-Free Pizza Crust

Pizza and I are in a committed relationship, not to be broken even when I gave up grains six years ago. Though I often make my own grain-free crusts out of cauliflower rice, it takes a while and there are times when I need pizza, now. I keep at least one ready-made grain-free crust in my freezer for just such a pizza emergency. Cappello’s is my favorite; it has the flavor and texture closest to regular pizza crust, and it has a short list of wholesome ingredients.

I’ll make a straight-up regular pizza, or sometimes I’ll be more creative, topping the crust with caramelized onions, sausage and blue cheese; or cooked broccoli, bacon and cheddar.

7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I believe what you cook in is just as important and what you cook. I have a legit collection of cooking fats—but some are more vital than others.  Extra virgin olive oil is my go-to for for low-heat cooking, for blending into sauces and dressings, and for drizzling on everything.

8. Avocado Oil

Another essential oil? Avocado oil. It has a neutral flavor and high smoke point, so it’s my go-to for high-heat cooking, roasting, searing meat and the occasional frying I might do (don’t tell anyone).

9. Ghee

Ghee, which is clarified butter, is also good for high heat, and it imparts a butter flavor, perfect for sautéed vegetables, pan-fried fish and sauces.

10. Coconut aminos

When I gave up soy a few years ago, I started using coconut aminos instead. It’s made from the fermented sap of the coconut tree mixed with sea salt, which sounds weird but is actually so good. It’s far less salty than soy sauce, but fills in well for it in stir fries and as a dip for sushi. Beyond that, it has a chameleon effect on foods, adding umami here and sweetness there. I’ve added a shake or two to sloppy joes, pan sauces, and mashed potatoes. When I can’t figure out what to add to a dressing to give it that zing, coconut aminos does the trick. It’s Whole30 approved, and adds a touch of sweetness, perfect for balancing dressings when you would have otherwise added honey.

What do you always have in your kitchen? Tell us!

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