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Starting Fresh: Pantry

Quick tips for revitalizing your pantry and food options in the new year.

How better to be your best self than to eat properly?

By eating well, your body naturally functions at a more efficient level and provides energy, stamina and the ability to focus. Fuel yourself with valuable nutrients in every meal by preparing your pantry.

Homemade is the easiest way to fuel yourself properly, as you know every ingredient being used. Preparing your own meals is not only more nutritious, but forces an understanding of how well your body reacts to ingredients closest to the source.

Here is a list of must-have pantry items, thanks to Terry Walters, author of Clean Start and Clean Food, two amazing cookbooks that will bring you on a journey of amazing and seasonal dishes that completely fuel your entire self. This list will provide you with the ingredients to make amazing meals by adding just fresh produce.

Whole grains: Amaranth, barley (has gluten), brown rice, brown rice flour, cornmeal, millet, oats (steel cut, rolled and whole), quinoa, teff flour and wild rice.

Veggies/Fruits: Dried fruits (apricots, raisins, dates and cranberries), dried sea vegetables (arame, kombu, nori), dried shitake mushrooms, garlic, pickles and sun dried tomatoes

Legumes: Black beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, split peas

Here is a tip: Buy legumes bulk in the dry food section. Bring dried beans back to life by soaking in water overnight then cooking in a crockpot for a few hours until soft. You will get more bang for your buck.

Nuts/Seeds/Butters: Almonds and almond butter, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts

Here is another tip: Seeds are amazing for raw energy bars as seen in my previous Vegan Living post.

Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, virgin coconut oil

Looking to add more taste to your weekend? Use coconut oil to make your pancakes on Sunday mornings! Amazing flavor added when flipping your flapjacks.

Vinegars: Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, ume plum vinegar

Sweeteners: Unsweetened applesauce, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses

Flours: Almond meal, arrowroot, chickpea flour, corn flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, teff flour

Miscellaneous and spices: Baking powder, baking soda, Braggs liquid aminos, chile powder, cinnamon, ginger root, grapeseed oil mayonnaise, mirin, nutmeg, sea salt, pepper, shredded coconut and tamari

Here's a treat of a recipe, cocoa brownies, for your New Year's snack while you do all this organizing, from Clean Start by Terry Walters:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup applesauce
8 pitted dates
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder (or carob powder, but the taste is different from traditional chocolate)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.

In food processor, combine applesauce, dates, banana, maple syrup and vanilla until almost smooth but with some date chunks remaining.

In separate bowl, combine teff flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

Pour wet ingredients into fry and mix as briefly as possible to incorporate all ingredients.

Transfer to prepared dish and bake 25 minutes or until top appears slightly dry.

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and removing from pan.

Enjoy!

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