Give your pantry a nutrition makeover

CARBONDALE, CO - OCTOBER 24: Sandra Lopez filling a snack for her daughter Areli Gonzalez-Lopez almost 2, in the kitchen of the Parsonage of the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist in Carbondale, CO. Lopez of Silt, CO, who has stepped into sanctuary with the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist when ICE denied her stay of removal and is now facing deportation. The mother of three US Citizen children has called the Roaring Fork Valley home for the last 16 years. October 24, 2017 in Carbondale, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – We all try to regularly clean out items that easily expire in our fridge, but what about your pantry?  How often do you clean it out and what do you keep in it?

Topeka Hy-Vee Dietician Amber Groeling says, “Typically the American pantry is loaded with snack foods.  I really do recommend clients give their pantry an overhaul.  Get rid of those tempting foods, because what you have in the kitchen is what you’re going to reach for when you’re hungry.”

A good reference to start with is the nationally known, My Plate Program.

“Trying to fill your pantry with things that fit the My Plate or the healthy food groups that are going to provide you with nutrition.  So chips and the snack cakes, they’re not going to fill you up, they’re not going to be sustaining energy, and they’re going to be providing little to no nutrition,” said Groeling.

Groeling says some healthier items to buy for your pantry are, “Whole grains like popcorn, oatmeal, especially just your plain oats.  Whole grain cereals like shredded wheat and whole grain cheerios.  Whole grain pastas, whole grain rice, quinoa.  There’s tons of whole grain options, just make sure the first ingredient is whole grain, or eat your grains in their whole state. Tuna, especially the pouch tuna, lots of good flavor there.  It’s a super easy meal starter.  Also canned tuna, canned salmon are great options as well, great way for you to get your omega 3’s which are good for heart health.”

Health experts also boast the nutritional value of canned and preserved vegetables and fruit, as long as you watch out for the sodium and sugar amounts.

“Research shows canned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh.  The nutrients are kind of locked in.  Dried fruit is another good option.  However, again you want to make sure it doesn’t have the added sugar,” said Groeling.

Amber also recommends loading up your pantry with herbs, spices, oils, vinegar, and marinades.  She says these are low calorie, flavorful meal additions, without much sugar and fat.   She says, “They also contain plant compounds that are shown to help prevent diseases.  So definitely load up on things like Italian seasonings, basil, and chili powder, all great to have in the kitchen.”

As far as the date on the canned food items, Amber says, most are “Best by Dates”.  This means the longer you have them, doesn’t usually mean there’s a food safety risk, maybe just less quality and taste.  However, make sure you do throw away any cans with dents on them.  These dented cans can be a food safety risk.

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