Easy Recipes Using Staple Ingredients

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If you look in your pantry, you’ll probably find a wide variety of ingredients. If not, the supermarkets do still have many staples that you can stock up on.

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Staple ingredients found in your pantry and freezer can be used to create a healthy meal for you and your family. Below you’ll find nine recipes – including a white bean and chicken chili from me – that you can make using ingredients that you may already have or can find easily at the store.

Alice Henneman, a Nebraska-based nutrition consultant, recommends this easy to make smoothie. All you have to remember is 1/2 cup of three common ingredients.

For each smoothie, add in this order:

  • 1/2 cup of milk, juice or plant-based beverage.
  • 1/2 cup of any flavor of yogurt.
  • 1/2 cup of frozen fruit,like strawberries, blueberries or mixed berries.

Blend until smooth; add more liquid for a thinner smoothie or more frozen fruit for a thicker smoothie. If desired, sweeten with about a teaspoon of honey.

This simple recipe by Elizabeth Shaw, a San Diego-based nutrition consultant, uses many of those pantry staples you likely have on hand. Swap tahini – the traditional fat used in hummus – with peanut butter (or an alternative nut or seed butter) to make a high-fiber, heart-healthy snack that doubles as a sauce.

  • 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil.
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Process in a high-powered blender. Serve with fresh vegetables, pretzels or thin it out with a tablespoon more of water or oil to create a creamy sauce to toss with pasta or salad.

Last-Minute Black Bean Soup

Liz Weiss, based in Lexington, Massachusetts, and host of the Liz’s Healthy Table podcast and blog, loves to toss together this pantry meal. It comes together quickly in one pot with food staples you probably already have on hand, and each hearty bowl has 10 grams of protein and 7 grams of filling fiber.

To make this brew, place the following ingredients in a pot:

  • One 15-ounce can of black beans (undrained).
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels.
  • 3/4 cup salsa.
  • 1/2 cup water.
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper.
  • Juice of a lime.
  • 1 teaspoon each of chili powder and cumin.

Bring to a boil so the flavors meld and serve in bowls topped with shredded, reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips and fresh cilantro, if you’ve got some on hand.

Family members can have fun at mealtime by garnishing their own bowl with a medley of toppings: shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, avocado, plain Greek yogurt and crushed tortilla chips.

Sylvia White, blogger at EmptyNesterNutrition.com based in Nashville, whips up an easy taco soup by combining one can each of the following ingredients:

  • 12.5 oz cooked chicken breast.
  • 15 oz sweet corn kernels.
  • 15 oz canned beans (any type).
  • 14-15 oz canned tomatoes.
  • 1 tablespoon each of cumin and chili pepper.

If you have a package of dry ranch dip on hand, you can add it. Cook on your stovetop, and serve with your favorite taco toppings like Greek yogurt, sour cream, salsa or avocado.

White Bean and Chicken Chili

One of my favorite pantry meals that my kids love is chili. Here’s a simple recipe that’s ready in 30 minutes or less.

Bring to a boil in a large pot:

  • 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth.
  • 1 can of canned chicken.
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of white beans (drained).
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans of chopped green chiles (drained).

Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors combine, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons coriander and 1 teaspoon chili powder to add even more flavor.

Noodles with Asian-Style Peanut Sauce

With such a fancy name, you’d think it would have more than three ingredients. Katie Sullivan Morford, of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, based in San Francisco, says that these noodles may remind you of the flavors of a Thai satay sauce, yet no exotic ingredients are required to make it. Peanut butter, pasta and whatever vegetables you have in your fridge add up to a meal that’s both satisfying and nutrient rich.

Cook 12 ounces spaghetti, soba or other dried noodles. Drain. While the pasta cooks, in a large bowl whisk together:

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter.
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar.
  • 3 tablespoons water.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha or other hot sauce.
  • 2 cups crunchy raw vegetables.
  • 3 sliced scallions (optional).

Add the warm pasta and toss well. Serve immediately. Makes four to five servings.

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Pasta

Kacie Barnes, a Dallas based nutrition blogger at Mama Knows Nutrition, has a recipe that is as easy as boxed mac and cheese, but it’s packed with nutrition. The chickpea pasta adds filling protein and fiber, and the pumpkin sauce is full of vitamin A. If you have kids, this is a great way to get some veggies in.

Cook one 8-oz package of chickpea pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, in a large, microwave-safe bowl, heat for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the butter is melted:

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree.
  • 1/4 cup butter.
  • 2 tablespoons water.

Stir together, then add a few dashes of garlic powder, onion powder and salt to taste. Drain pasta when cooked and toss well with pumpkin sauce.

Chicken-Veggie Ramen Bowl

Rosanne Rust, author and blogger at Chew the Facts, based in Meadville, Pennsylvania, recommends making a healthier noodle bowl for a family of four with inexpensive ingredients.

Cook one to two chicken breasts (fresh or frozen). You can either boil the chicken in a covered pot for 20 minutes, or you can bake it for 35 minutes. Once cooked, slice thinly and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, shave carrots into a bowl to make 2 cups. You can also cut baby carrots into thin strips instead. Then set aside.

To prepare the ramen noodles, bring 5 cups of water, with one seasoning packet, to boil in a large pot. Add the four packages of noodles and the carrots. Cover loosely to cook for 3 minutes. Drain most of the water from the pot. Add another flavor packet to the noodles and stir well to distribute. Scoop the noodles and carrots evenly into four serving bowls. Top with the sliced cooked chicken. Add reduced sodium soy sauce or chopped chives if desired.

This easy pasta dish by Lauren Harris-Pincus, a New Jersey based dietitian, founder of NutritionStarringYOU and author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club,” covers all the bases with protein, whole grains and veggies. Boil some whole wheat or bean-based pasta, and while it’s cooking, in the microwave or a saucepan, heat up a jar of marinara sauce with two cans of diced clams (drained).

For a little spice, add red pepper flakes, if desired. You can also microwave a steamer bag of spinach or broccoli to serve on the side or mix it in. This quick recipe also works with canned or boxed tomato soup.

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