An Athlete's Pantry - Supporting Ingredients

I'm taking a step away from exercise performance and physiology this week to talk about another love in my life: Food.

I often find myself in the grocery store grabbing the most essential of the essentials: Milk, bread, eggs, meat, cereal... For me, it's usually easy to pick the main entrees for the week -- Say... curry, chicken breasts, chili, steak, pasta, etc. The hardest thing is deciding on what sides items to cook, and remembering what supporting ingredients you need.

For those times it helps to have a few things stockpiled in your fridge and pantry. That way, if you forgot an ingredient, you might already have it. And if you don't -- maybe you can still throw something together with those stockpiled ingredients. I think my girlfriend Courtney and I do a pretty good job managing our fridge and pantry.

What do we keep on hand?

Rice - An excellent carbohydrate source, easy to cook, stores well
Beans - black, pinto, chickpea, lentils - pair well with rice, decent protein source, good starch, hearty, "musical fruit"
Tomato products - diced, sauce, paste, pasta sauce, ketchup - stores well, versatile, useful for a number of recipes
Pasta - Great carbohydrate, quick and easy side or entree
Couscous - see Pasta
Eggs - incredible and edible, cheap, good protein, a must for many baked goods  
Flour - did somebody say baked goods?
Sugar - for coffee, desserts, baked goods, oatmeal, some recipes
Oats - oatmeal, cookies, muffins, good carbohydrate
Peanut butter - a guilty pleasure or a quick fix lunch or snack, satisfying, can also make good sauces
Spinach - versatile, easy, nutritious vegetable
Carrots - easy snack, versatile in entrees and sides
Olive Oil - extra virgin, please
Greek Yogurt - plain - from smoothies to tzatziki, delicious and nutritious
Frozen peas and corn - for soups, or as an ice pack
Dried fruit - raisins, cranberries, apricots, figs, dates - quick and easy snack, versatile and a good carbohydrate source
Juice - liquid fruit, right? Not quite, but juice is still a quick source of carbohydrates, tastes good, and has some nutritional value
Mustard - sandwiches, BBQ, slaw, baked beans, marinades - love me some mustard
Onions - an essential ingredient in many recipes, buy in bulk
Garlic - see onions 
Lemons/limes - it just needs something... like lemon! 
Potatoes - mashed, baked, in soups, broiled, versatile, great carbohydrate, delicious
Sweet potatoes - mmm... see potatoes - excellent source of vitamin A
Bell pepper - another versatile vegetable - take 'em roasted, in salad, stir-fry, chili, etc.
Celery - to complete the cajun "Holy Trinity" - great flavor, some people like it for a snack...
Butter - an old time essential
Spices - because some foods can be quite boring without any spice - you know what you like, stock up; they'll keep forever

Tonight, using my on-hand ingredients, I threw something together and it turned out really well. But don't take my word for it...

Moroccan Chickpea Salad:
Makes 2 - 3 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can chickpeas - drained
1/2 bell pepper - diced
1 carrot - finely diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cardamom
Salt to taste

Heat oil in pan, sautee the bell pepper and carrot together, add garlic, corn, and green peas and sautee 3- 5 minutes over medium heat. Add chickpeas, lemon juice and season with oregano and cardamom. Salt to taste.

This picture can't do it justice...

Serving size = 1/2 recipe
FAT: 9 g
CHO: 64 g
PRO: 18 g

I split this into 2 large servings and put it along side some salmon and couscous. All together, it took me about 10 minutes and cost about $2 a serving. Just one example of how a well stocked pantry can keep you healthy, wealthy, and efficient.


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