Friday, November 15, 2013

In The Pantry - Part 5 (final)

Rice - Another very important product to have in your healthy kitchen.  With many varieties available such as pearl, brown, white, long or short grains, try different varieties in different recipes.  Rice is a good source of nutrients and carbohydrates.  Store in a cool, dry location.  Also inspect your rice before using it.  (Rice is another must have for me.  I have never tried the pearl and am not crazy about the brown but I have found one that I can't get enough of in white or brown and that is Basmati.  It has a nutty flavor that adds to any dish.)

Seeds - try to increase the amount of seeds used in your cooking.  Most seeds do contain oils, but are a good source of protein.  Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a good choice.  Buy raw and unsalted seeds to allow the most options in cooking and snacking.  (This is something I've just started getting into.  I've found a Sunflower Bread that one of my local grocery stores makes and I simply love it.  It has whole kernel sunflower seeds throughout the whole loaf of bread.  It has become my favorite bread next to seeded rye.)

Sesame Tahini - made of ground, hulled sesame seeds, tahini is a paste that is common in Middle Eastern dishes.  Try tahini as a sandwich spread and use for dipping as an appetizer with fresh vegetables.  Tahini has a large amount of oil, so use sparingly.  Store covered in the refrigerator.  (This is a new one to me.  I like sesame so this may be something I'll have to try.)

Tamari - can be used as a salt substitute, but is also high in sodium.  Tamari is made from fermented soybeans.  Many commercial brands are produced by chemical processing and should be avoided.  Naturally fermented tamari can be found in health food and ethnic shops.  (Another new one for me that I'll have to research more before using due to the sodium.)

Vinegars - A good quality red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar will allow you to produce enticing and creative tastes and flavors.  Also important is apple cider vinegar and distilled white vinegar for both cooking and pickling.  The best choice of vinegars are quality brands that offer great flavors without being overly harsh and acidic.  The impact hat a vinegar may have on a dish is great, most often times being able to heighten existing flavors found in your other ingredients.  Used in salads, dressings, to deglaze pans, in pickling and to marinate vegetables, fish and chicken, vinegars have many important roles in the kitchen.  Store in glass container, away from heat and light. (I keep all of these vinegars on hand and use them frequently.  I've found that they do enhance the spices and herbs you are using in cooking.  When I saute chicken with garlic and herbs I'll add a little balsamic vinegar to highlight the taste.)

Wheat Germ - the heart of wheat, rich in vitamin E, B vitamins, protein, iron, potassium and zinc.  Adds nice, interesting flavors to salads, breakfast cereals and works well in sauces and with cooked vegetables.  Store in sealed container in cool, dry location.  (I've heard of people sprinkling this over just about everything they eat but haven't tried it myself - yet.  Think I'll give it a try.)
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