So a few weeks ago I was challenged to provide a peek inside my pantry. I’m on the cusp of moving house at the moment (first time buyer and i’ve never known stress like it) and I was hoping to already be in my new home by now, but turns out house buying is VERY complicated and nothing is quite as simple as it seems. C’est la vie!
You may know i’m not the greatest cook and avoid cooking where I can, for my own safety more than anything, but occasionally I do make myself my own meals and there are a few certain staples I simply couldn’t be without in my kitchen cupboards, so I thought i’d give you an insight into the brands I love and the ingredients I couldn’t be without… because great food isn’t just about restaurants!
You hear different things about rice cakes. They often seem to be villianised by healthy eating mags and blogs for seeming to appear like a healthy option but really being detrimental to health and weight loss… but I don’t care about that. For me, it’s all about the fact they taste pretty great, especially when topped with a big slather of cream cheese and a handful of blueberries. A lovely light lunch or even a great breakfast (if topped with peanut butter and a few sliced bananas) I love these ones especially because they’re slightly sweet, but their smoked paprika are delicious too, especially with a schmeer of cream cheese and a few slices of smoked salmon!
I used to despise peanut butter, but now i’d say it makes up a pretty big percentage of my diet. I don’t have a favourite brand but do tend to opt for the low-fat smooth one from Sainsbury’s just to make me feel less guilty when I spoon it into my mouth! It goes with everything – It makes an amazing pasta sauce (use the crunchy one, add a bit of hot water, soy sauce and lemon juice and you have an almost satay style pasta sauce that goes great with pasta shells) and also a wonderful addition to smoothies. And while I always thought the Yanks were a bit mental with their PB&J obsession, on toast with a light spread of marmalade is bloody delish.
I used to eat crisps, now I can’t get enough of popcorn. It’s definitely having its moment. It’s the most fashionable snack around, and brands have become so creative with their flavours it’s hard to decide which is my favourite. I’m obsessed with PROPERCORN’s Coconut & Vanilla flavour, as well as their new Smooth Peanut & Almond which tastes like it’s been dipped in actual peanut butter… but then I’m also really into the Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup flavour from Portlebay Popcorn (which you can buy in Boots), the Wasabi Glazed popcorn which you can buy in Itsu, and the Jalapeno popcorn from SkinnyPop! It has a nice subtle kick to it and is completely guilt free! They have a couple different flavours of popcorn you can check out if jalapeno isn’t for you…
Blueberries are firstly super good for you. A Sirt food that boosts your metabolism and aids weightloss. Secondly, they’re just delicious. I never don’t have them in my fridge for a quick sweet snack.
This stuff is brilliant for sweetening things up in a guilt free manner. I’ve replaced sugar with this stuff when making cakes (which made it taste even more indulgent somehow!) and sometimes squeeze a bit into my morning coffee or over my porridge. It’s also great for smoothies! And it’s usually a bargain at only £2.50 in Sainsburys with Groovy Food!
This is one of the super duper Sirt diet foods that gives a wonderful morning perk up and boosts your metabolism into over drive to help lose weight. It’s not got an over powering taste (it is essentially green tea after all) but I do love a matcha latte first thing every morning with a squeeze of agave to lift the sweetness. I bought this packet from Amazon for £8.99, which is quite a bargain in comparison to the brands you’ll find in the likes of Holland & Barratt.
I never used to eat breakfast, but this year I decided it was time to grow up and start listening to all of that chat about it being the most important meal of the day. Now if I don’t have my morning porridge I can get a little craggy! I love these sachets, it saves me having to weigh out the oats and find a measuring jug for my milk. Topped with a drizzle of Agave syrup and maybe a few blueberries or slices of banana and you’ve got a sweet, warming start to the day.
Chia seen puddings are all over my Pinterest board at the moment. There’s something about them that is so beautiful, despite essentially looking like bowls of fruity frog spawn. The seeds themselves have no flavour but they’re packed full of goodness and health benefits, so i’ve begun making myself the occasional chia seed pudding to have for my lunch or after my evening meals, with almond milk, a teaspoon of matcha powder and a squeeze of honey or agave. Then topped with mango slices or blueberries, or whatever fruit I have in the fridge!
I like having a few different herbs and spices to add into my meals, and nothing adds more of a punch than a sprinkling of chilli flakes. I also love a splash of chilli oil (especially on my pizzas!) to really elevate my dishes. Sometimes I just really crave spice! You can find these in the herbs and spice sections of your local supermarket.
I mean, does anyone else just think that 2015 was the year of the coconut? While I found coconut water to taste like cold bath water (I wretched the first time I tried it) I was definitely taken in by the coconut oil phenomenon! I bought mine from Groupon because despite now being widely available, it’s still quite pricy in the supermarkets, but sadly this one isn’t available anymore, but you can get it pretty much everywhere now and expect to pay anything from £5 up. I use it in my stir-frys, instead of butter when making cakes and have even started oil-pulling with it in an attempt to make my teeth pearly white! Apparently this oil has over 70 uses… I might try and use them all!
These are just ridiculously addictive and taste a lot like chewy sweeties. I tend to keep mine in the fridge because I think they’re nicer cold but you can keep them in your cupboards. They’re REALLY nice wrapped in bacon, too and they have a fair few health benefits. Great for blitzing up with porridge oats and peanut butter to make your own protein balls.
Peanut Butter Cups
The peanut butter obsession obviously stretches to these. I try not to buy these too often because they don’t last long, but they’re so delicious and creamy, they’re my go-to treat. The minis are also great… but dangerous because you can eat a dozen before you’ve even realised. If you fancy it, Nigella has a pretty sexy recipe for making your own peanut butter cups at home…
I’ve always loved dark chocolate way more than milk & white, so I always keep a bar on hand so I can have a small bite when the chocolate craving hits. They do say you should have a cube of dark chocolate a day (because health) so really it’s a requirement. You should always go with dark chocolate that is at least 70% – it means it contains less sugar which makes it even better for you (and means you can justify 2 cubes) It’s also a Sirt food so again, basically a weight loss aid!
BEST. SNACK. EVER. I get through 3 punnets of grapes a week, popping them in the freezer over night and then grabbing a cup full anytime I fancy something sweet. They turn into sweet miniature ice lollies and are great for the summer. The red ones are definitely better than the green (unless you happen to find yourself with a particularly sweet punch on the greens. Avoid black grapes at all costs. Very disappointing and no where near sweet enough)
If I haven’t had my morning coffee, i’m not a very pleasant person! While I do enjoy a Flat White from the lovely independent coffee shop My Kitchen below my office, it does tend to hit the purse a little hard after a while so I make my own coffee with our Nespresso Krups coffee machine in the office kitchen. I order at least 100 pods each time we re-stock with a great selection of different flavours and strengths. I really like the Intenso range with Arpeggio (purple) and Kazaar (Dark Blue) being my favourites! They also do decaff versions of these flavours which is great for strong tasting evening coffees without the restless nights to follow.
This is the most incredible yoghurt with the best variety of flavours. My favourite is probably the passionfruit though the coffee one has a nice bitterness that conflicts well with the sweetness of the creamy yoghurt and the mango one is like a tropical holiday in a pub. The miniature ones are great but you definitely get better value for money with the big tubs. I sometimes like to add them to my morning smoothie or just have some for dessert. Waitrose tend to have the best selection of flavours but you can find them in most supermarkets now.
I discovered this a few years ago. Actually, an old man in Tesco’s West Kensington introduced me to it as I helped him find the Ginger Preserve he was looking for. For 66p I thought it was worth trying out, and for that whole summer I was practically hooked! With some coconut rice (Tilda’s coconut, chilli and lemongrass microwavable packets are the best) and a tin of this sweet, sticky fish, you have a tasty, Asian inspired bowl of food.
And then there’s the aforementioned Ginger Preserve I helped the lovely old man in Tesco find. Turns out this stuff is bloody delicious, especially slathered on a crumpet with a slather of peanut butter too. I always have a few jars in my cupboards. It also works really well with bread and butter pudding too, or just lumped onto your morning toast.
Obviously my cupboards have A LOT more in them than this, but these are my most used products and brands when it comes to home cooking. They’re all widely available and quite versatile so you can use them in loads of your own recipes. Let me know what your pantry must haves are and if you can recommend any recipes or additions I should be aware so I can stock my new kitchen cupboards high with delicious foods!