5.09.2018

7 Nutritarian Pantry Staples

I've spent the last seven years working on being a Nutritarian.  I say "working" because I am not and have never been perfect.  It's never been my goal with this blog to set the example of "perfect", but to give you guys a little peek into my Nutritarian journey with my wins and road blocks and occasional crashes.  Lately, I've been having a lot of wins with some new routines, eliminating some internal stresses, and getting my body moving more (which has more to do with stress than body composition for me).

With roughly seven years under my belt, I've learned a few tricks that I know make me more successful, and one big trick is having a few Nutritarian staples in the pantry.  Please don't feel like you need to go out and immediately buy all of these things to make you a better Nutritarian.  This is what I have found works for me, but your tastes and preferences may be different.
(Note, there are a few Amazon affiliate links in here, which give me a small kick back if you purchase through them.  Most if not all of these items can be found at a local grocery store or health food store.)

1.) "Raw" Cashews

I've learned recently that no cashews are truly "raw", but for Nutritarian cooking, what I mean is no added oil, salt, sugar, or other spices.  With a high power blender, raw cashews can be blended into delicious salad dressings (such as my Ranch, Caesar, and 1000 Island dressings), made into homemade cashew milk (I follow this recipe with no straining involved), blended with bean or vegetable soup to make creamier, or made into thicker sauces for cooked veggies or bean pasta (like one of my favorite recipes from Hello Nutritarian).

My old tupperware of cashews.
A refill of this guy costs about $20 and lasts me at least a month.

I find the most economical way to buy raw cashews is from my local Winco grocery store that sells them among their bulk bins.  At about $6.50 per pound, a restock of my raw cashew container costs about $20 but lasts me at least a month.  Amazon sells them here for about $8 per pound.  Since our household eats very little meat and dairy (for my hubby), I rationalize that my other grocery items are relatively inexpensive, so I splurge a bit for nuts instead.

Dr. Fuhrman recommends nuts and seeds be a part of a Nutritarian diet for their longevity promoting, cancer preventative, and brain health properties (read more here).  If you have weight to lose (which I totally do), he suggests you limit these higher calorie foods to 1-2 ounces a day (a small handful).  If you have a cashew allergy or they are just too expensive for your budget, a good alternative would be raw sunflower seeds (these are $3.25/lb on Amazon).  I happen to have an allergy to sunflower seeds, so you won't find any recipes here, but they could be a good substitute for cashews in blended recipes.

2.) Nutritional Yeast (unfortified)

Also known as "nooch", nutritional yeast is way more appetizing than it sounds!  It can come in flake or powder form and is used in vegan recipes to give it a "cheesy" flavor.  I often add it to homemade marinara, savory cashew sauces, bean burgers, tofu scrambled "eggs", and homemade hummus or bean dips.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy nutritional yeast is to add a few tablespoons along with some raw cashews into a food processor and pulse until you have a ground parmesan texture, which you can sprinkle on to salads, cooked veggies, casseroles, or pastas.  I follow this recipe from Oh She Glows minus the salt.

I recently learned that it is important to get unfortified nutritional yeast due to the added folic acid in most varieties.  You can read Dr. Fuhrman's article on folic acid here.  It essentially explains that we need to get folate from whole natural foods (pregnant ladies included!), and avoid folic acid that is artificially created since excesses of it can lead to cancer development.  Pretty much the same rule applies to most all vitamins and nutrients: If it was made in the garden, eat it.  - If it was made in a lab, avoid.  A good, unfortified brand of nooch comes from Sari Foods.

3.) Vinegars (also Citrus)

Vinegars are excessively useful in a Nutritarian kitchen.  I generally have four to five different vinegars in my pantry at any given moment.  They usually include unfiltered apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, and a fruity/exotic vinegar like black fig or pomegranate vinegar.  In a pinch, they can be used as a salad dressing on their own or mixed with a nut or seed butter (like in my One-Two Dressing).  Vinegar can be added to soups to perk up the flavor (without salt!), drizzled onto steamed or stir fried veggies, or added to hummus or bean dip to make a low calorie salad dressing.

If you're new to using vinegar in your cooking or on your salads, I encourage you to try a few different types and give your tastes time to adjust.  They are generally inexpensive (unless you go for some artisan, aged versions), and are shelf stable for long periods of time.  If you HATE all vinegars, not to worry lemon or lime juices work well in their place for most purposes.  I suggest using fresh citrus juices over bottled juices from concentrate.

These are the vinegars I have on hand right now.
Lately red wine vinegar has been my favorite to add to salad dressings. 
I have been using my balsamic for roasting mushrooms. Mmmm!

If you're just starting a Nutritarian diet and just don't like those tart flavors, you do you, but give them a try every now and then as you continue your Nutritarian journey.  When we remove highly processed, salty, sugary, and oily foods, our taste buds heal and we begin to enjoy the true tastes of fresh foods again.  Vinegars and citrus juices can be a good way to enhance those natural flavors without adding any salt, sugar, or oil.

4.)  Canned or Dried Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

This is by far the legume we eat most in our household.  My husband likes them straight from the fridge, cold as a snack.  Ben likes them cold from the fridge for his meals.... sometimes.... when he decides he does... he's a toddler (shrugs shoulders).  We all love them roasted with spices as croutons or a snack.  I'm the only one in the household that uses it as hummus dip, and I often take hummus I make and thin it with vinegar for a salad dressing.

I prefer to cook my own from dried chickpeas.  I buy these in bulk at my local Winco, and at $0.96/lb they (and other dried beans) are an important part of our frugal grocery shopping.  I use my InstantPot Duo60 to cook my dried beans.  With a pressure cooker you can cook your beans from dried, but I prefer to soak them ahead of time.  When they have been soaked, I cook them on high pressure for 16 minutes with a natural pressure release.

Perfectly cooked chickpeas right out of my Instant Pot.
This amount fills 3 wide mouth pint canning jars.
I put one in the fridge and two in the freezer for later.
 2 cups of dried beans, cooked, lasts our family 4-7 days.

With a pressure cooker this means, I close the lid with the pot of beans and water in it, it heats up rapidly until it reaches high pressure (approx 10 mins), it cooks at high pressure for the time I set (16 minutes), and then it goes into warming mode and I wait for the pressure to release naturally (15-45 mins).  That means total time for your beans to be ready is closer to an hour - BUT I still stand by the pressure cooker because it does all this magic while I get to do other things.  It is still way faster and more convenient than cooking dried beans on the stove top.


5.)  Rolled Oats

Lately I've been eating a Nutritarian diet for weight loss, so I have been keeping my grain and starchy vegetable intake at or below one cup a day.  I find that following this rule keeps me on track to keep my raw and cooked vegetable consumption high throughout the day.  I like rolled oats most often in the morning mixed with finely chopped apple, spices, ground flax and chia seeds, and homemade cashew milk.  Generally I prep a few jars of ONOs (overnight oats) at the beginning of the week and eat them for breakfasts.  Here is a nice recipe to prep ONOs for the work week.

It generally costs me only $3-4 to refill this container when I buy from the bulk section.

Like dried beans, rolled oats are dirt cheap.  A refill of my large container generally costs less than $3 and gives me nearly a month's worth of breakfasts (a 1 cup serving of oats is equal to 1/2 cup dried).  As a toddler feeding tip, I often mix rolled oats with any hot soup I'd like Ben to try.  Once it cools down it goes from being a soup to more of a grain dish that is easier for him to grab and eat.  He loves my three-bean chili mixed with rolled oats.  Along with making it easier to eat, it also increases the caloric density of his food in a healthy and inexpensive way.

6.) Ground Flaxseeds, Ground Chia Seeds

If you have not yet heard of how healthy ground flaxseeds and chia seeds are for you in terms of cancer prevention, I would suggest checking out this article from Dr. Fuhrman.  I often add 1/2 Tbsp of each to my daily oats, sprinkle them on my salads, or blend them into green smoothies.  They are mild-tasting, and I have come to think of them as mandatory daily vitamins in my routine.

Ground Flaxseeds
Ground Chia Seeds

I like to buy my seeds whole and in bulk, then blend them at home in my Vitamix.  These seeds are so hearty that they, if left as whole seeds, will pass through your system intact without giving you those lignans that prevent cancer.  I have one jar each of the ground seeds stored in my fridge at all times, and any extra I have blended I store in the freezer for longer periods.  I have heard mixed opinions on how to store ground chia and flax seeds (some say it is fine at room temperature), but I find I've never gone wrong with fridge and freezer storage.

Flaxseeds are very inexpensive, at only $2.99/lb on Amazon, that is more than a two month supply for me, and is cheaper and more useful than most other real vitamins out there.  Similarly priced, chia seeds are about $3.50/lb on Amazon.  Keep in mind, these are the whole seed forms, and they tend to increase slightly in volume when blended.  Again, I try to do 1/2 Tbsp each daily.

  

7.) No-Salt Seasoning and a Well-Stocked Spice Cabinet

Since we Nutritarians don't use salt, oil, or sugar, we take advantage of nature's flavors by using dried herbs and spices.  I always have a no-salt seasoning on hand (my favorite is actually dirt cheap at $1 per bottle and comes from Big Lots), and I generally keep my spice rack filled with my favorites.  Over the years of cooking for myself and creating recipes, I have found that a handful of spices are my go-to's.

My kitchen would not be complete without cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano, rosemary, and fennel seeds.  Some of these don't necessarily go well together, but I find each one very flavorful and complement a mostly veggie diet well.  Rosemary and potatoes always go wonderfully together.  I also almost always add cumin, coriander, and oregano to every soup or stew.


I encourage you to experiment with new spices and combinations.  When you kick the salt and sugar from your diet, your tastes change and you begin to appreciate natural flavors more.

"You do you"

I feel like I've been saying this a lot.  The beauty of a Nutritarian, or even any type of plant-based diet, is that there are as many ways to do it as their are people who want to be healthy.  Just because these seven items help my kitchen run smoothly so I can work on becoming healthier, it doesn't mean your pantry list will look the same.

Find your favorites that are within your budget and your availability, and you do you.


Health and Happiness,

Amy


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