There are many things that I love to cook with and couldn’t live without. These are my must have, always in my pantry and fridge kind of items. I’m sure everyone who cooks has their own pantry and fridge staples but I thought I’d share some of mine with you. I hope this inspires you to cook healthy meals in your home!
I have found that if I’m eating something delicious to me, I’m satisfied with less of it than something mediocre and tasteless. The first thing that I can’t live without is chicken thighs. I’ve never liked chicken breasts and I think they lack flavor and juiciness, remember I’m indulging my inner foodie. Also, though chicken thighs are higher in fat than breasts, it’s the healthy monounsaturated fat, as long as you avoid the skin. I’m more satisfied when I eat a juicy, luscious chicken thigh and I find that if I’m eating something that is yummy to me, I am happy with less of it than if I’m chewing on a dry, tasteless chicken breast. If I haven’t gotten the flavor and lusciousness that I’m longing for I will keep eating more and more to try and satisfy that desire.
I’ve also found that I really love high quality ingredients in my cooking, but that I don’t have to use as much of them to get the deliciousness. One of my favorite ingredients is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It’s a fat obviously but it is also high in the monounsaturated kind which is good for you. And you don’t have to use as much of it because it has a great flavor so again, it’s about getting by with less but feeling just as satisfied because the flavor is there.
Another thing I love to cook with is San Marzano tomatoes. They are a full flavored canned tomato from the San Marzano region of Italy, and they are intensely tasty. They’re a little more expensive but they are so much better than regular canned tomatoes it’s worth the extra cost. Very simple meals can be created using this ingredient and the food is so delicious.
Another high quality item I love is pork tenderloin. It’s lean but if cooked properly is juicy and the flavor is amazing. I prefer it to the beef tenderloin actually but I just like pork better than beef in general. It’s less expensive than the beef tenderloin too. I put a simple salt, pepper, garlic and EVOO rub on a 1 and 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, stick it in the oven preheated to 450 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. I use my meat thermometer to make sure that it cooks to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Make a simple pesto sauce for the top and voila, a healthy and TASTY meal.
A few of my other favorite items to cook with is canned white cannellini beans. I add them in many soups and stews and they add a nice earthiness and additional fiber to my meals. Asparagus is another of my favorite things. I put them under the broiler in a pan with a drizzle of EVOO, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning for about 8 minutes and they are so good that way.
I also love Italian seasoning. I use organic dried Italian herbs and garlic and it really adds flavor to my meals. I use it in almost everything I make. In addition, I love to cook with garlic. I use fresh garlic and the jars of minced that can be purchased in the store. I know chefs always say not to use the jars of garlic but when I’m in a hurry it is very easy to spoon some into a pot of food and it adds delicious flavor. Dijon mustard is something that I love to use in my meals. I use it to make salad dressings, and as a sauce with EVOO and garlic to drizzle over chicken and pork. It adds wonderful flavor to my food.
Hummus is something that I love to eat; it’s not a cooking ingredient for me. I eat it for lunch almost every day with carrots, celery, and tortilla chips which are another of my favorite things. I like the salty crunch of a tortilla chip, but I make sure to eat the non-gmo chips. I also eat salsa just about every day for lunch with my tortilla chips. I love the Herdez brand medium salsa and I think it has the perfect amount of spice and flavor.
Almond Milk is something that I use almost every day, to make protein shakes for Danielle, in my coffee, instead of milk in oatmeal and in cereal. I love the nutty flavor it gives to food and it’s another of my favorite things. It has a good amount of calcium and is low in calories. For those with lactose intolerance it’s a delicious alternative to cow’s milk. Silk Pure Almond has a protein rich almond milk that has recently become available and my family likes it even better than the regular kind. That’s an even healthier version of one of my favorite things!
There are many more of my favorite things that I use to make healthy meals for my family, but I’ve shared some of the key items with you today. Let me know what YOUR favorite things are, and I hope that this helps you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!