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Stocked For Success

Prepare for success with a stocked refridgerator.

I love when I see comments on the blog. It is a great way to keep a conversation going and it gives me things to write about in future posts. So keep them coming – I would love to see so many comments that I have a hard time reading them all.

Maryanne posed a question about cooking basics – especially as it pertains to vegetables. I am by no means an expert, but I do enjoy my time in the kitchen, and I feel that I improvise fairly well. It helps to keep a well stocked fridge and pantry.

There are some things that I almost always have on hand. Rarely, am I out of milk or eggs, and in my produce department, you can usually find mushrooms, summer squash, bell peppers, onions, lettuce and whatever fruit is cheap. In the summer months, much more fruit makes it home. In the winter, I stick mostly with apples, grapes, oranges, pears and the occasional pineapple.

I make sure to also stock the freezer with easy-to-prepare lean protein choices. Low-fat veggie burgers are probably at the top of the list, and pre-cooked frozen shrimp is almost always in there somewhere. It is expensive, but I use it when I’m in a bind to pull together a quick meal.

Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, salsa and canned tomatoes find their way to my pantry. I like the canned tomatoes seasoned with peppers, onions and garlic. Toss a can of beans and the seasoned tomatoes together and pour it over rice or pasta and you have a quick meal packed with healthy fiber and protein.

In the breakfast arena I keep old-fashioned oats and shredded wheat. I also am quite fond of the Fiber One that looks like rabbit food. A lot of days, I eat a cup of shredded wheat for breakfast with skim milk and then I sprinkle Fiber One over the top.

My favorite condiments include spicy mustard, Dijon mustard, low-fat or fat-free mayo, bar-b-que sauce several varieties of vinegar, hot sauce, olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil.

I devote almost a whole cabinet to spices only because I really like to experiment. If you don’t know where to begin, start with cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, dill, basil, chili powder, cumin and rosemary. Buy the best herbs you can afford, and if you have the same spice rack from when you were married, toss them and start fresh. I love Penzey’s Spices because they are fresh and flavorful.

Now, what are you going to do with all of this stuff?

A salad is generally a given at my house, and I toss it with a homemade easy-sneezy vinaigrette. Scroll through the blog recipes for that. It is a great way to get healthy oils into your diet, and it is cheaper and tastier than bottled dressing.

If you are new to cooking veggies, I suggest sautéing zucchini, onion, mushrooms and bell peppers in a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle a little garlic powder, salt and pepper with a half a teaspoon of rosemary and a half teaspoon of basil. If you want a Mexican flair, use the same amount of chili powder and cumin. It makes a great side dish to any meal.

I try to fill half my plate with vegetables. They provide a lot of bulk, which works well with the amount of food I like to eat. Once you try the above combination, make your own substitutions to suit your interest.

I am a self-taught cook, which means some experiments are better than others. I found the best way to learn is to try one new ingredient at a time. It provides accurate feedback for the next experiment, and if you only introduce one variable at a time, there will be very few “mistakes” that need to go directly to the trash can.

Good luck and let me know how it goes and keep the questions coming!


2 Responses

  1. I think you recommended a certain brand of veggie burger to me once…?



  2. I like the Morning Star Spicy Black Bean the best, but I usually buy whatever is on sale. Sam’s Club has mambo boxes of the Boca Flame-Grilled Burgers and they are bigger than the normal size and fewer calories. I usually just nuke them in the winter and then load them up with lettuce, tomato, pickles (I love the Clausen sandwich slices) and spicy brown mustard. I like them with the Arnold’s Sandwich thins. Add a bowl of raw veggies or a salad with a little olive oil and vinegar, and you have a really satisfying meal.

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