Friday, January 4, 2013

Essential Ingredients

I have come up with a list of my top 25 absolutely essential kitchen ingredients; 
the things I stock up on, and always have on hand. 
If I have these ingredients, the possibilities are endless 
for organic, creative meals that are so good for the mind and body! 

brown rice
dry red or green lentils
earth balance butter
a good olive oil
raw walnuts
raw almonds
cast iron skillet
fresh herbs; basil, rosemary, thyme, sage. 
rice vinegar
vegetable stock
coconut milk
steel cut rolled oats
frozen fruits and vegetables
canned beans, stewed tomatoes
a good sourdough bread
apple cider vinegar
sesame oil
cherry tomatoes
organic blue agave syrup
mangos, blueberries, bananas, and oranges

Produce: I go shopping for produce a lot. More than I think I should or want to, but it is the largest part of our diet and never waste anything. To expand on the bare bones list above, the produce that I use a lot of the time are: cilantro, potatoes, cabbage, green onion, brussel sprouts, sweet onion, red onion, snap peas, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, spinach, berries when they're in season, avocado, cucumber, ginger, yams, apples, and bananas, among other things that we can buy seasonally. 

In the cupboard: I always keep my pantry stocked up on canned black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, stewed tomatoes, corn, vegetable stock, dry split peas, dry lentils, quinoa, brown rice, jasmine rice, whole wheat noodles of all sorts, organic brown sugar, almond butter, peanut butter, flax seed powder, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and steel cut rolled oats. And copious amounts of coffee beans, it's my most beloved weakness.

In the refrigerator: We eat dairy, but it is definitely not a focus of our diet. We usually have a couple types of cheese (parmesan, cheddar, feta, and gorgonzola are my favorites), organic plain yogurt (for making smoothies, or for a sour cream substitute), and organic whole milk for Ramona. Eggs are also a big deal around here. We keep all the essential condiments like soy sauce, dijon mustard, braggs liquid aminos, real maple syrup, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc. I also love to always have organic apple cider for a treat for Ramona (watered down substantially), as well as for making smoothies. 

In the freezer: I make about 95% of our meals from scratch, but let's be realistic: sometimes you need to feed your screaming toddler in a hurry and don't have time to boil rice and saute veggies. With that said, I do like to keep a box of the dr. praeger's broccoli bites on hand, as well as veggie burger patties to bake up really quickly. I also keep frozen blueberries, strawberries, peas and whatever other organic frozen fruit or vegetables happens to be on sale. Cody and his dad fish, so we always have amazing frozen salmon, trout, and other yummy fish in our freezer as well. Organic chicken breasts and backstock breads are in there usually, too.

This is a glimpse of my kitchen and the types of food that we eat. 
It was a challenge to come up with my 25 essentials, but it was fun and really informative to think about and evaluate the things I always use. 
What are your absolutely essential ingredients?


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