Starting a real food journey doesn’t have to be complicated, it is quite the opposite. Back in 2012, we made some pretty simple changes that made a huge impact on our health. We started swapping out the highly processed boxes of quick breakfast items and traded them for things like rolled oats and fresh fruit for homemade oatmeal, sprouted bread for easier digestion, whole-grain crackers, regular store-bought eggs(from chickens fed processed feed, antibiotics, and poor living conditions) for free range pastured farm eggs, reduced-fat 2% milk for local whole, raw milk(numerous nutritional benefits!!). So many simple swaps making such a big difference in our overall health and new lifestyle.
I am here to tell that it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process and takes time, and also understanding. If you read about our journey to real food and how we got started then you are already familiar with how our process worked, if not then I will summarize quickly. We didn’t throw everything out of our fridge and pantry all at once. We started replacing and adding new, cleaner items gradually, as we ran out of what we already had. Take a basic bag of flour that is enriched and bleached(poor quality and cheaply made), I simply swapped that out for an unbleached, cleaner alternative. Baking powder that contains aluminum, switched that out for non-aluminum because heavy metals are not something that should be in our food, to begin with. Chili and ranch seasoning packets full of MSG, sodium, and chemical additives for a handful of pure seasonings to make our own. Refined bleached sugars for organic raw sugar, coconut sugar, raw honey, and maple syrup. You get the picture here.
Our pantries are the most processed areas in American homes and that is where I would start cleaning up! Take a look through your pantry and set goals on what you would like to improve this year. Swap them out as you run out, and even add one or two new items to your grocery trips each week that you may not have or want to try! The tasks may seem overwhelming or daunting but I can ensure you make small steps along the way can lead to an overall healthier, real food lifestyle and you and your family will reap the rewards!
Below are my top must have pantry staples plus a few extras to add in along the way. I may come back and add to as more come to mind along the way. When you have an equipped pantry with basic staples, it won’t take hardly any effort to make real food approved meals, baked goods, and easy, healthier homemade snacks!
Flour – Whole wheat, sprouted spelt for baked goods, to make roux in soups, homemade doughs. If gluten-free you will want a GF all purpose, almond flour, and coconut flour which are common GF baking staples.
Baking Powder – non aluminum
Baking Soda – baking and DIY cleaning.
Rolled Oats – baking, energy balls, granola, smoothies, oatmeal.
Steel cut oats – not used for baking but delicious as breakfast
Yeast– for homemade pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, breads.
Maple syrup – one of my go to sweeteners in baked goods, on top of pancakes & waffles. Look for only 1 ingredient on the label – pure maple syrup.
Raw honey – can use in multitude of items. One of my go to sweeteners in baked goods, smoothies, hot tea, yogurt bowls, salad dressings, medicinal benefits.
Vanilla Extract – Pure form , not imitation – look for one ingredient!
Spices: * the ones I use the most
*Paprika & Smoked Paprika
*Red Pepper Flakes
Olive oil – cooking and dressings. Also great for DIY cleaning recipes.
Avocado oil – cooking, dressings.
Coconut oil – cooking, baking, DIY cleaning, DIY beauty, and much more.
Balsamic Vinegar – homemade dressings.
Red wine vinegar – to make various homemade sauces.
Sesame oil– great for homemade asian sauces. I use this oil about once or twice a week!
Apple Cider vinegar – for salad dressings, sauces, soaking fruits and vegetables to clean, and great for medicinal benefits too! *Top must have!
Pumpkin puree – not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling. Great for baked goods, oatmeal, smoothies, add in yogurt to flavor.
Coconut milk – full fat unsweetened. Great for asian or indian dishes, oatmeal, and soups.
Tomato Sauce – great for homemade sloppy joe sauce!
Crushed and/or whole peeled tomatoes – to make homemade marinara sauce!
Tomato Paste – used for various soups and stews and homemade sauces.
Beans – canned or dried.
Whole Grain pasta – (there should be only 1 ingredient)
Rice – white basmati or brown
Misc items :
Raisins – perfect ad in for oatmeal, trailmix, energy balls, and a non processed snack option.
Various Nuts – almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin(pepita seeds), sunflower seeds – perfect for homemade granola and trailmix!
Chocolate chips – add in trail mix, baking, energy balls, and for melting.
Peanut Butter/Nut butters – great smoothie ad in, sandwiches, top on oatmeal. Make sure there is only 1 ingredient(no hydrogenated oils or sugars).
Flax meal – great ad in for smoothies and energy balls.
Hemp Hearts– add in smoothies, yogurt, replace croutons on salads.
Chia seeds – perfect for chia pudding, smoothies, yogurt.
Unsweetened coconut flakes – baking, yogurt bowls, smoothies, and trailmix + granola.
Dates – perfect for snacking (slice open and fill with peanut butter, choc chips, and dash of pink salt), make homemade date caramel sauce, or toss in smoothies or energy balls.
Dried Apricots – nutritional non processed snack. My kids love them! Opt for organic to avoid sulfites.
Dried Mango– my kids LOVE this! perfect non processed snack and tastes like candy, literally!
Arrow Root Powder – substitute for corn starch(look for Non Gmo). used for thickener in sauces
Marinara Sauce – I like to make my own from crushed and whole tomatoes and load it with vegetables, but it is always a good idea to have a quick back up in the pantry for emergencies. Spaghetti and marinara sauce can quickly save the night and keep your family from avoiding the drive through fast food lines! Look for clean, real food ingredients on label.