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Can you eat healthfully out of the pantry? Yes! And here's a recipe to prove it.

Updated: Jun 18, 2022

Being stuck at home can definitely throw a wrench in the whole “abs are made in the kitchen” thing, let alone just maintaining a healthy body. It has been a full week now since I have been to the grocery store, and I am almost out of milk, fresh fruit and veggies. I am following the rules of strict quarantine with my littles and hoping to keep everyone healthy, so I just placed a grocery order with Whole Foods to be delivered tomorrow night (free delivery with Amazon Prime).


Thankfully, as an Italian girl, I was raised to have multiple freezers 🤣 so I do have plenty of frozen proteins, veggies, waffles and ice cream 😋. But what if you have a limited pantry? Can you still eat well? The short answer is yes, you can!

The number one thing I pay attention to when buying non-perishables is the sodium count; I buy no salt-added or low sodium beans, tomatoes, tuna, broths, soups, tortilla or other chips etc I also make sure I check the sodium count of all frozen foods as they can have a ton of salt for no necessary reason! Everyone needs adequate sodium in their diet, but excess sodium makes you retain water, and makes you feel sluggish, bloated, and dehydrated. Ever wonder why your pants are too tight for a few days after eating fast-food Chinese take-out? You don’t suddenly become “fat” in a day; your body needs to flush out all that salt!


With that caveat in mind, these are the staples in my pantry:

extra virgin olive oil

vinegars (unfiltered ACV, balsamic, red wine)

dijon mustard

hot sauce

honey

herbs & spices (esp garlic powder, basil, oregano, thyme, hot pepper flakes & cumin)

beans (black, kidney, pinto, cannellinI, chickpeas)

diced tomatoes and tomato purée (I like Pomi)

tuna fish

wild salmon

chicken breast chunks (Trader Joe’s has a good canned product)

soups

chicken, beef & vegetable stock

basmati or jasmine rice pasta (all shapes and sizes!)

popcorn kernels (easy to cook on the stovetop)

Boom Chicka Pop

unsalted tortilla chips

salsa

natural peanut butter

chocolate chips

Cheerios

Kodiak cakes mix (or other pancake mix)

protein bars (BeachBars & KIND bars)

protein powder

pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup)

potatoes (russet & sweet)

onions

garlic


Believe it or not, just looking at this list makes a ton of meal ideas run through my mind, from rice and beans, to garlicky linguine with white beans, buffalo chicken baked potatoes or chocolate peanut butter protein pancakes to name a few. And if you have frozen veggies like spinach, Brussels sprouts, zoodles, green beans and the lIke, you are all set!

And I hope that this quarantine has taught everyone— men, women, teens — how important it is to know how to cook well and nourish oneself! I was lucky to have a Portuguese mom and a Sicilian Grammy to teach me from a young age, but cooking is not difficult if you can read and follow directions. Actually it pains me to say this as an English teacher, but in the age of YouTube you don’t even need to read the recipe. You can do it, I promise.


Below is one of my favorite true pantry dinners that is filling, delicious, and ready in minutes! There is a "Lazy" version (stovetop), and a "Super Lazy" version (dump everything in a bowl & microwave). Let me know if you try it in the comments below, or tell me what’s in your pantry and I’ll come up with something for ya!


"Lazy Girl's Tuna Arrabbiata"

Serves 1 if you are me, prob 2 for a normal person

Ingredients (I'm Italian and Portuguese; I don't measure shit):

1 can no salt added or low sodium tuna, drained

~ 2 c tomato puree (or diced tomatoes)

1 - 2 c cooked pasta (depends on your macros) or raw zoodles (again, the macros)

Extra virgin olive oil (li'l swirl around the pan)

One, two, tree cloves of garlic, minced or crushed (depends who you're quarantined with)

Salt & pepper obvi

Dried oregano, hot pepper flakes (I have a heavy hand with the hot pepper)


Instructions:

1. Sautee the garlic, tuna, and spices at medium heat until the garlic softens

2. Pour in the tomato puree and season again to taste, stir a couple minutes until heated through

3. Pour your arrabbiata sauce over your hot pasta or, if using zoodles, microwave 1-2 mins until al dente, drain and top with arrabbiata sauce.

4. Top with some grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano if you got it


"Super Lazy Girl's Tuna Arrabbiata"

Serves 1 if you are me, prob 2 for a normal person

Ingredients (I'm Italian and Portuguese; I don't measure shit):

1 can no salt added or low sodium tuna, drained

~ 2 c tomato puree (or diced tomatoes)

1 - 2 c cooked pasta (depends on your macros) or raw zoodles (again, the macros)

Salt & pepper obvi

Dried oregano, garlic powder & hot pepper flakes (I have a heavy hand with the hot pepper)


Instructions:

1. Put the cooked pasta or raw zoodles (yes raw) in a microwave safe bowl

2. Dump the tuna, tomato puree and spices on top

3. Cover with wax paper (or paper towel but no plastic in the micro) and microwave 3-5 mins depending on the power of your microwave. I hate over cooked pasta or zoodles so I err on the side of caution. If you use zoodles, I usually keep the wax paper on when done and tip it over the sink to get rid of the excess water.

4. Stir it up, throw some grated cheese on there if you got it, and mangia


That's it! Easy, healthy comfort food from the pantry... if you don't like tuna, use white beans or canned chicken (low sodium of course!).








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