Top 10 Pantry Essentials for Fast, Healthful Cooking


(NAPS)—Stock your kitchen with these basic building blocks for a wide variety of good-for-you recipes that are quick and easy to create.

“Keeping healthy foods on hand is one of the easiest ways to get started with a healthy eating plan,” said registered dietitian Sarah-Jane Bedwell, author of “Schedule Me Skinny.”

  1. Canola Oil—This kitchen workhorse is one of the most healthful cooking oils available and excellent for almost any kind of recipe. It contains the least saturated fat and most plant-based omega-3 fat of all common cooking oils, plus its neutral flavor and light texture work well with many different dishes and cooking styles.
  2. Vinegar—The acid in vinegar, including white wine, red wine or balsamic, brightens and balances flavors. It’s key to salad vinaigrette, and a splash can add depth and sweetness to soups and sautés.
  3. Peanut Butter—An inexpensive source of protein, peanut butter is a healthful addition to baked goods. It’s also a quick base for Asian-style peanut sauce on noodles or meat.
  4. Lower-Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth—Boost flavor by using broth for homemade soup in a flash, whole grains or a braised dish. Store-bought broth tends to be higher in salt, so look for the lower-sodium varieties.
  5. Honey or Brown Sugar—Sweetener isn’t just for baked goods. Use a touch to help caramelize foods and bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables.
  6. Whole Wheat Flour—Essential for baking, flour is also useful for thickening sauces, binding veggie pancakes and more. The white whole wheat variety can be a great way to add extra whole grains but maintain a light texture.
  7. Basic Spices—No need to buy a whole rack’s worth of spices. For most dishes, you’ll be good to go with pepper, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, garlic flakes, thyme and an Italian herb blend.
  8. Whole Grains—Brown rice, whole grain pasta, oats, barley and quinoa are packed with nutrition and nicely filling. Keep them on hand to round out any meal.
  9. Quick Protein—Canned or dried beans and lentils as well as canned salmon and tuna are excellent pantry staples: nutritious, affordable and versatile. Toss them into salads, mix with whole grains or mash them into burgers.
  10. Canned Tomatoes—Essential for sauces, soups and stews, canned tomatoes are faster (and, at most times of the year, tastier) to use than peeling, seeding and chopping your own. Select those that are lower in sodium.

“These are ingredients I reach for again and again,” Bedwell added. “With a well-stocked pantry and a little bit of planning, it’s truly possible to prepare healthy meals in minutes.”



This entrée or appetizer is a delicious way to incorporate whole grain and other pantry essentials.


Salmon and Quinoa Patties

Yield: 8 patties

Serving size: 1 pattie


2 Tbsp canola oil, divided

1 cup minced onion

½ cup finely chopped celery

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 cans, 6.5 oz each, salmon, rinsed and drained

3 eggs

2 Tbsp green relish

½ tsp salt


In large nonstick pan, heat 1 Tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. In large bowl, combine prepared quinoa with cooked onions and celery. Add salmon, eggs, relish and salt. Stir well to combine. Shape mixture into 8 patties, about 1⁄3 cup mixture each. In saucepan, heat remaining canola oil over medium heat. Cook patties for 3 to 4 minutes, undisturbed, or until golden brown. Flip over and continue cooking for about 4 additional minutes.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving: calories: 150; total fat: 9 g; saturated fat: 1.5 g; cholesterol: 90 mg; sodium: 360 mg; carbohydrates: 7 g; fiber: 1 g; sugar: 1 g; protein: 10 g.


Learn More

Find more flavorful recipes using heart-smart canola oil and other pantry essentials at



You can enjoy delicious, simple and wholesome Salmon and Quinoa Patties with grilled vegetables on whole grain rolls or as mini appetizers.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here