Healthy Pantry by Nicolette Nutritional Therapist

A Healthy Pantry for Busy Times

When stress is high and time is short, prioritizing healthy eating can feel hard. How you plan and what’s on hand can make all the difference in how you eat and how you feel.

Creating yourself a healthy pantry, full of nourishing foods that you love, is a great way to support yourself in times of stress and keep your healthy eating on track.

Just as a capsule wardrobe simplifies decisions about what to wear, your healthy pantry simplifies your decisions about what to eat when you just don’t have time to think about it.

The idea is to build yourself a supply of super-nourishing pantry items to keep on hand at all times.  Not only good-for-you in the general sense, but foods that truly nourish you and help you feel satiated, comforted, and energised.

The first step is knowing what you would like to include in your healthy pantry. The second step is to create a simple system to keep those items on hand at all times.

Not only will you benefit from the extra nutrition and energy, but you will get a boost of self-confidence knowing that you are staying true to your commitment to your health.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Have fun with this and create a healthy pantry that YOU love.

Express Antipasti

With their variety of colours, flavours, and textures, antipasti are a feast for the eyes and the soul. These simple ingredients can be kept on hand and assembled in minutes for a fun and festive feast. Best of all, there are some true nutritional superstars in this nourishing mix.

Ideas for a nourishing antipasti plate:

  • Artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil
  • Kalamata olives
  • Sundried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Aged cheese (such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano)
  • Toasted almonds
  • Whole grain crackers or breadsticks

Artichoke hearts are one of the most nutritious plants available contributing iron, folate, vitamin C, and magnesium (just to name a few) plus high levels of antioxidants and fibre.

Kalamata olives are also high in antioxidants and healthy fats (particularly oleic acid) and are a good source of minerals including iron, calcium and copper plus fat soluble vitamins A and E. Just moderate your intake if you are sensitive to salt.

Aged cheeses are good sources of calcium and support the proliferation of beneficia bacteria in your gut.

Toasted almonds are high in magnesium and vitamin E as well as protein, fibre, and healthy fats.

Even the sundried tomatoes are rich in nutrients including vitamins A, C , and K, as well as protein, fibre and antioxidants, particularly lycopene.

The best part of an antipasti platter is that you can bring your own creativity and personalise it with your favourite ideas. It’s particularly fun to share with a colleague or friend, not to mention these ingredients are great to keep on hand in case of unexpected company.

If the timing works, elevate your experience even further with a glass of red wine!

Raw Veggies and Hummus

Sometimes the tried and true is just what we need.

Enjoy a little hummus with sliced carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or your favourite veggies.

With good quality protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant polyphenols, the combination of veggies and hummus is filling, satisfying and highly nourishing. 

While homemade hummus is wonderful, feel free to save time by choosing a good quality version from your local grocery store. In less than a minute, you can elevate your store-bought version with a drizzling of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika and cumin on top.

Hummus and raw vegetables
Quick Miso Soup
miso soup health benefits

Keep some good quality miso paste in your fridge, and you will always have a nourishing soup to hand. Red, yellow and white miso pastes all work well – choose one and give it a try.

While traditional miso uses a dashi broth base, hot water or good quality instant vegetable broth make fine substitutes when the priority is to nourish yourself in the time it takes to make a cup of tea.

Simply add a tablespoon of miso paste to your cup and slowly add hot (but not boiling) water, stirring as you go. You now have a nourishing and mineralising broth rich in zinc, manganese, copper, vitamin K, and B vitamins. As a fermented food, miso is also rich in probiotics, which nourish your beneficial gut bacteria. Choose good quality refrigerated miso pastes to ensure live cultures are preserved.

If handy, feel free to add a little chopped tofu, spring onions, or greens (dried seaweed or even baby spinach).

Nuts and Seeds

Small but mighty, nuts and seeds are packed full of nutrition and are great for grabbing on the go. With good quality protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants, your beneficial gut bacteria love them as well.

I tend to keep one jar of toasted mixed seeds for shaking on anything and everything, and I keep separate jars of each of the following staples, rotating other varieties in:

  • Walnuts – high in omega- 3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid, a small handful every day is an excellent way to support brain health
  • Chia seeds – another excellent source of omega- 3 fatty acids and calcium as well as gut soothing mucilage, these little seeds are great for shaking into smoothies
  • Brazil nuts – coarsely chop one a day and sprinkle over a salad or pasta for one of the richest sources of selenium, which supports thyroid function
  • Almonds – especially flavourful when toasted, they are an excellent source of stress-supporting magnesium, vitamin E and manganese.
pantry staples

Rotate different varieties to maximise your access to their distinctive health benefits. Purchase your nuts unsalted and add your own salt and/or seasonings.

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate health benefits

The perfect partner to a handful of nuts, enjoy a square of dark chocolate when you have the hankering for something sweet.

Naturally high in polyphenols, antioxidants, and minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc, dark chocolate nourishes us without all the sugar and processed ingredients found in commercial milk chocolate bars.  

Toast with nut butter and sliced fruits

Toast a piece of whole grain bread and top with some sliced fruit and almond butter.

Or slice up some apples or pears to dip in a little peanut butter.

The combination of seasonal fruits and good quality nut butter will brighten your palate, satiate your appetite, and provide you with protein and a range of vitamins and antioxidants.

Keeping seasonal fruits in a bowl in a visible location is another great way to keep fruit top of mind.

Natural yogurt with fresh fruit

Fresh, simple, and filling, natural yogurt provides the perfect canvas on which to build a vibrant work of art for your body and soul.

Add fresh or frozen berries, a drizzle of honey, some granola or crushed pistachios and you are on your way to a highly satisfying and nourishing snack.

Yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, and the live cultures support the growth of your beneficial gut bacteria. Purchase unsweetened versions and add natural sweetener yourself.

For extra protein, opt for Greek yogurt or Skyr varieties.

Avocado Smash

An avocado smash need not only be enjoyed at brunch.

Mash half of an avocado and add it to a slice of whole grain toast or a warm tortilla. Sprinkle with some salt flakes and a little ground pepper. If you have time and inclination, top with a poached or hardboiled egg.

This is a decadent way to get those healthy fats. Don’t forget to sprinkle nuts and seeds on top!

Avocado Toast
All day oats
overnight oats

No longer relegated to the breakfast table, oats make a convenient meal or snack at any time of day. Oats are highly nutritious and provide an excellent source of protein, fibre, minerals, and B vitamins. Enjoy savoury or sweet!

Sweet Option:

Simply fill some small jars with equal portions of oats and almond milk (or a dairy or plant-based milk of your choice) and keep them in the fridge (covered) at home or at work. Feel free to add a quick dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla for extra flavour.

When ready to eat, add some tasty toppings of your choice – a drizzle of honey, a spoonful of almond butter, sliced bananas, mixed berries, or mixed seeds.

Savoury Option:

Enjoy a savoury lunch porridge – cook up your porridge oats with an equal portion of instant chicken or vegetable stock.

Top with a poached or fried egg and sprinkle with any greens you have on hand. You could even spoon in a little miso or add some crispy onions on top.

Smoothie fixings

Keep some berries and bananas in the freezer, some yogurt and milk (dairy or plant-based) in the fridge, and some chia seeds in the pantry, and you will have the fixings for a healthy smoothie on hand to whiz up any time.

Good quality protein powders can also be kept on hand for an extra boost.

Smoothies are a particularly great option when we are busy or stressed as the blender has already done much of the work for our digestive system.

Just be sure to include some healthy fats such as yogurt, chia seeds, or avocado to balance the natural sugars in the fruits.

Healthy Berry Smoothie
Final Thoughts

Consider what other resources you have around you. You don’t have to prepare everything yourself.

For example, maybe you have a great smoothie bar nearby. Make it a point to go there on days you need the extra nourishment. 

Maybe there’s a place that makes great salads or abundance bowls, but it’s a little further away. Make the trip on those days you need the extra nourishment.

Try to shift your mindset. If you catch yourself thinking you don’t have time, try replacing those thoughts with: “I am a worth the extra investment of time” or “my health is worth investing the extra time”.

The small decisions we make each day have a cumulative effect so let yours be those that nourish you.

If you need a place to brainstorm all the things you’d love to include in your healthy pantry download My Healthy Pantry Stocklist

So, what’s in your healthy pantry?  


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