I’ll have to admit it. In a dream world I would be a personal chef, filling plates with healthy protein. If I had to take it down a notch, I would say round the clock food delivery. Eating healthy can feel like a part time job sometimes. When you’re on a first name basis with all the stock boys and cashiers at the farmers market, you know you spend a lot of time there.
I’m constantly checking out new products, reading labels, and replenishing those fresh fruit and veggies. As much as I love the grocery store, I wonder what about the pantry? It had become a taboo place for me. I associated it with chips, cookies, and jars of sugar. But could I make it a protein palace instead?
Yes, it is possible to have healthy meals made in minutes which do not come in liquid form. Check out these 15 protein packed staples to add to your cupboard. They’ll help you minimize the number of trips to the grocery store. Just make sure you stock up on those glass storage jars for your bulk buying binge:
- Black Beans 15g
- Lentils 17g
- Chickpeas 14g
- Red Kidney Beans 15g
- White Beans 17g
- Quinoa 8g
- Bulgur 17g
- Israeli Couscous 6g
- Chia Seeds 4g
- Walnuts 12g
- Pecans 9g
- Millet 22g
- Pine Nuts 18g
- Freekeh 5g
- Mung Beans 3g
Now what to do with amazing protein ingredients? Let’s take some of our newer additions to the pantry for a spin with a couple of fresh ingredients.
- 1 cup uncooked millet, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced basil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 large leaves green or red leaf lettuce
- Toast millet in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add broth. Return to heat and bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and millet is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer millet to a large bowl, fluff with a fork and set aside to let cool.
- Add black-eyed peas, green onions and basil to millet, toss gently and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, then pour dressing over millet mixture and toss to coat. Add tomatoes, then spoon salad over lettuce leaves and serve.
- 1 cup bulgur or light bulgur
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small English (or hothouse) cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, from 1-2 lemons
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place the bulgur in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1-1/4 cups boiling water. Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap and let sit for 25-30 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed.
- Meanwhile, to soften the bite of the raw onions, place them in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Let them sit for ten minutes, and then drain. (Feel free to skip this step if you don’t mind the taste of raw onions.) Combine the cooked bulgur with the red onions, remaining teaspoon of salt (I know it seems like a lot but the salad is bland without it) and all of the other ingredients. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, sugar or lemon if desired. Serve cold.
These are few ideas to take your pantry to the healthy level. Minimize your trips to the grocery store. Whip up a quick meal with ingredients you probably already have on hand. If you also happen to use dried seasonings versus fresh we won’t tell anyone either. Taste is taste, right?