When I first moved to the country from the city, every grocery shopping experience was an exciting adventure.
Finally, I was in stores with room in the aisles to roam around, and I didn’t need to go to 8 different stores to find everything on my list (as I had done in the city).
But, eventually the shiny new experience of shopping at a suburban grocery store wore off just a bit, and then was when I noticed I had a problem…a food shopping problem. Yep, some women spend their hard-earned dough on shoes and purses, but not me. I spend mine on Goldfish and coffee creamers.
To curb my “addiction,” I try to hit up the grocery store with a list and stick to it. The problems arise when I decide to make something for dinner and notice that I don’t have all the ingredients. This gives me another excuse to go to the grocery store, and while there, I usually do a great job of convincing myself there are a couple of extra items that I need.
There are certain items, however, that I allow myself to purchase at any time. These are my kitchen staples, and since each product generally gets a lot of usage, it never feel like a waste when I purchase them.
You never know what you’re going to find in a Sometimes Healthy Kitchen, but I guarantee you each of these items will be there.
Once I discovered quinoa years ago, I never looked at rice the same way again. The nutritional value of quinoa is off the charts, yet it still tastes like on of those yummy carbs that I know and love. I keep it in my kitchen at all times, because there are a million ways to use it.
Here are a just a few different ways to use quinoa:
- Quinoa Pancakes
- Quinoa Breakfast Mash
- In any crockpot meal
- Quinoa Cheesey Muffins/Egg Muffins
- Quinoa-based Salad or Salad Topping
You can also purchase red quinoa, but I find the traditional to be much more versatile.
No matter what the time of year is, there is always fresh seasonal squash available at our local grocery store. During the summer, I simply roast up or grill summer squash with cheese and spices. But, year-round, especially during fall and winter, that’s when butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash take over. I always have at least one in my fridge. And sometimes, if I’m feeling really lazy, I’ll buy the squash peeled and cut, because it’s a pain in the a** to chop. Here are just a few things I do with it:
- Butternut Squash: Fries, Soup, Mashed
- Spaghetti Squash: See recipe page (favorites include Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Ramen Noodle Spaghetti Squash)
- Acorn Squash: Stuffed with anything and everything or roasted with butter and brown sugar
3. Coffee Creamers:
If you’re new to the blog, then you probably already have noticed some things that I talk about frequently. I am a huge fan of coffee creamers, because I like the creamy, real-tasting flavor that they deliver. Sometimes flavored coffee tastes artificial, and I’m just not a fan. Current favorites are Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice and Girl Scout Thin Mint (back on the shelves, phew), and my all-time favorite is International Delight Peppermint Patty. Please tell my BF that it’s normal to have 3 coffee creamers in the fridge at all times.
4. Greek Yogurt:
I feel like it is almost sacrilegious to be a healthy living blogger and not eat greek yogurt. Again, like quinoa, the nutritional value is just too important to ignore. Thankfully, I love the taste. I always have a few different flavors of Chobani, Chobani Bites AND Chobani Flips in my fridge, but I also keep a big tub of Fage or Chobani as well. I use it for so many different things including:
- In place of sour cream on salads, potatoes, with chips, etc.
- As a dip, combined with honey mustard
- In place of mayo in tuna or chicken salad
- In place of fattening or unhealthy ingredients in baking (two ingredient greek yogurt cupcakes = delicious)
- To thicken up smoothies
As nearly the entire world knows by now, the avocado has a whole lot to offer in the nutrition department including that “Gooood fat” and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. I once based my entire WIAW on baking and cooking items with avocados. Here are just a few ideas:
- Smoothies – Frozen banana + half avocado + almond milk + cinnamon/honey = creamy, delicious, nutrients-packed breakfast
- Baked Stuffed Avocados
- Avocado Quinoa Pancakes
- Substitution for butter in baking (check out my recipe from Friday)
- Salad topping (I’m not a huge meat eater, so sometimes, I’ll just pack my salads with avocados and cheese)
6. Almond Milk:
I’m not lactose intolerant, nor do I hate the taste of milk. But, Silk Almond Milk is just so much better. With just 30 calories per cup (for unsweetened vanilla), it has more calcium and Vitamin E than regular ol’ milk. And I can use it everywhere I would ever think to use milk.
- With cereal
- As a base for creamy sauces
- In Overnight Oates in a Jar
- In Smoothies
- To dip chocolaty desserts in
Okay, I don’t need to try to convince you of the nutritional value in Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. I will let the packaging try to convince you instead. “MADE WITH WHOLE GRAIN” and “NO ARTIFICIAL PRESERVATIVES.” Totally convinced right? Regardless of their nutritional prowess, we’ve been feeding these babies (typically the cheddar flavor) to our children for 30 years, and I am shocked that so many people have missed the innovation in the flavor department from Pepperidge Farm. Vanilla Cupcake, French Toast, Fudge Brownie, S’mores and more. The best part is that they are tiny, so you can eat a few without feeling so guilty.
Whenever I feel a Sometimes Healthy Sweets craving coming on, I just grab a handful of Goldfish, and I’m satisfied. Here a couple of other things you can do with your Goldfish:
- Ice Cream Topping
- Trail Mix with Popcorn
- Dip in Frosting (Dunkaroos!)
I keep at least one can of pumpkin in my kitchen year-round, but that number definitely increases to 2 or 3 during the fall/winter time. I remember a few years ago when there was a Libby’s pumpkin shortage, and I was running around to different stores in NYC stocking up. Pure pumpkin is again another food that is extremely versatile, so if you love the flavor of pumpkin it makes sense to keep this can in your pantry. Here are my favorite uses for it:
- Soup: Simply combine 1 – 2 cups of chicken stock with a can of pumpkin, stir, season with salt and pepper, heat up on the stove or in the microwave, and you have a quick and easy pumpkin soup
- Two Ingredient Baking: Spice Cake + 1 Can of Pumpkin = Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes; Brownie Mix + 1 Can of Pumpkin = Fudgey Healthified Brownies
9. Fiber One 80 Calorie Wraps:
I discovered these wraps right when they came out. There was a big sale on them, and of course, the ol’ “2 for $5″ got me again. I eat these for breakfast almost every day with peanut butter or honey. They also make great breakfast wraps! They taste much more substantial than 80 calories, and of course, being that they are Fiber One, they have a lot of extra fiber. They’re not too high in the carbs department either, plus the BF loves them.
10. Sweet Potatoes:
Since these things take forever to spoil, I always keep one on-hand for a rainy day. All I have to do is pop one in the oven, top with cottage cheese and salsa, and I’ve got a healthy, tasty meal. I also like to roast/grill them in foil packs with spices or simply cut them up to make sweet potato fries. Finally, they’re a great addition to any crockpot meal!
11. Laughing Cow Cheese:
At first, I wasn’t sold on these little cheese wedges, but now, I can’t imagine a kitchen without them. Here are just a few of the things I do with my Laughing Cow Cheeses:
- Use as dip for pretzels/triscuits, etc.
- Use as cheese in cream-based sauces
- Melt on top of veggies for a quick and easy side dish
So, there you have it. No matter what sort of mess you see when you enter my Sometimes Healthy Kitchen, you can always rest-assured that each of these items will be there…as well as many more, but we’ll save those for Volume 2.
Mayo vs. Miracle Whip
Before I close, I must quickly share a funny “issue” that this house experienced during football Sunday yesterday. The BF wanted wings, so being the generous Sometimes Healthy girl that I am, I offered to go pick up the ingredients for his wings and blue cheese dip. A couple hours later as he emptied the ingredients, he stared at the Miracle Whip with disdain. Here’s what was said:
- Him: What is THIS?
- Me: Um, it’s mayonnaise. It was on the list.
- Him: No, this isn’t mayonnaise. It’s Miracle Whip. It tastes completely different.
- Me: What? What is the difference?
- Him: It is NOT mayonnaise. The taste is different. It’s not mayonnaise.
- Me: Grrr, you are so ungrateful. Sorry for trying to give you a healthy alternative (insert over-dramatic eye-roll)
Anyway, in the end, he bought the mayo and truth be told, I did notice that the taste was indeed very different. I couldn’t help but think first of the brilliant ad campaign by Miracle Whip a couple years ago where they demonstrated the “polarizing effect” of Miracle Whip. Then, I remembered an episode from Friends, “The One that Could Have Been” where Joey is talking about his hate for pulp in OJ and states, “Uh, I just I hate pulp! Y’know? I mean, y’know how Monica feels about low fat mayonnaise?” Then “Fat Monica” states, “It’s NOT mayonnaise.”
I tried to find the clip but could only find this image from the episode. Fat Monica still makes me laugh.every.single.time.
Anyway, I promised him I would settle this debate once and for all on the blog. So, today, dear readers, help me out:
1. Miracle Whip: Healthy substitution or “wanna be” mayo
2. Share with me one of your kitchen staples! Perhaps I can add to my collection