Diabetes Self-Management Blog

So now you have your pots and pans, knives and wooden spoons, and other assorted gadgets. But what’s in your cupboards? What’s in your refrigerator? What are those basics you should have on hand so that you can put together a healthful meal without having to make extra trips to the grocery store?

I’ve run into situations where I think I’m being pretty clever whipping up an impromptu meal, only to find that I really need something like black beans or brown riceā€¦ and I have none. How do some people seem to have just the right ingredients in their pantry or cupboard? When those unexpected guests happen to stop by at dinnertime, no problem! A quick, nutritious, and tasty meal seems to appear out of nowhere.

Well, you too can have the makings of great tasting meals on hand with a little bit of effort. Of course, what and how much you have depends on your own taste — and space. But there are some “core” staples that you should think about always having around:

Condiments

  • Olive oil. Besides being so good for you, olive oil is a cook’s best friend. It’s low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, so we know it’s a heart-healthy food. Beyond that, olive oil is pretty versatile. You can use it as a dipping sauce for a crusty loaf of bread, in a vinaigrette along with some balsamic vinegar, and in cooking (over low to medium heat — it can burn at high temperatures).

    There are different grades of olive oil. Generally, they’re categorized as extra virgin, virgin, and pure (your basic olive oil). Extra virgin is the most prized type of olive oil and is well suited for dips and dressings. Extra virgin and virgin olive oils contain more antioxidants than regular olive oil. But for cooking, regular olive oil will do the trick. Keep olive oil away from heat and light when storing it. You can refrigerate olive oil to extend its life but it may turn cloudy. Store your oil in dark glass, porcelain, or stainless steel (but not plastic) containers.

  • Canola oil. Olive oil is delicious, but sometimes the flavor is too strong for a particular dish. (It also isn’t that well suited for baking.) So, it’s a good idea to have another healthful oil around, and canola oil is a good choice. Also high in monounsaturated fat, canola oil has a very mild flavor and can hold up to high temperatures, making it good for stir-frying. I should mention that corn, safflower, and sunflower oils are fine to use, too. It’s just that canola oil is higher in monounsaturated fat than the other vegetable oils, with the exception of olive oil. Unlike olive oil, canola oil doesn’t come in different grades, so you can pretty much choose whichever brand you prefer.
  • Balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is, in some cases, prized as much as a fine wine. This fragrant vinegar is made from a type of white grape that has not been fermented. Instead, the grapes are boiled down into a dark syrup, stored in wooden casks and allowed to age (sometimes for more than 100 years!). The longer the vinegar ages, the thicker and more flavorful it becomes.

    As with most items, you get what you pay for. In other words, a cheap balsamic vinegar may seem like a bargain, but it won’t have the rich flavor of a quality vinegar. Also, avoid balsamic vinegars with added ingredients, such as sugar, sulfites, or colorings. Look for the words aceto balsamico tradizionale on the container to be sure you’re getting the real deal. You may end up paying $10 or more per bottle, but a little goes a long way and it will keep pretty much indefinitely as long as you store it in a cool, dark place. Add some balsamic vinegar to soups, stews, and sauces. Whip up a fresh vinaigrette for a salad. And for a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate treat, drizzle some over freshly sliced strawberries.

  • Mustard. Mustard is more than just the bright yellow stuff that you squeeze onto a hot dog. There are various types of mustard, ranging from mild to hot, depending on the type of mustard seed used. Dijon mustard is typically fairly mild; German, English, and Chinese mustards can be quite strong and spicy (and good to use if your sinuses are blocked!). Mustard is very low in calories and carbohydrate, making it a good choice for weight watchers and carb counters alike. Try it in salad dressings and sauces and as a side sauce for grilled meats and fish. Use it in place of mayonnaise for sandwiches. And stir some mustard into homemade egg salad to brighten up the flavor.

More next week!

POST A COMMENT       
  

Stocking Your Healthful Kitchen (Part 1)
Stocking Your Healthful Kitchen (Part 2)
Stocking Your Healthful Kitchen (Part 3)
Stocking Your Healthful Kitchen (Part 4)
Stocking Your Healthful Kitchen (Part 5)


Comments
  1. I have found that a good dijon mustard is worth its weight in gold. We usually confine mustards to sandwiches and such, but dijon is more versatile. I stir some in with steamed broccoli and other veggies, and mix it with fat-free mayonnaise to add some extra tang. It is good on its own, of course, but can be mixed in with so many things to “value-add” the dish.

    Posted by Robert Turner |
  2. Hi Robert,

    I wholeheartedly agree! Dijon has a lot of potential as a condiment beyond sandwiches. I like the idea of mixing it with vegetables, too.

    Posted by acampbell |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of Madavor Media, LLC., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.


Nutrition & Meal Planning
Hype or Healthy? Ezekiel Bread and Whey Protein (10/20/14)
Hype or Healthy? Chia Pudding and Bulletproof Coffee (10/14/14)
Low-Carb Diet Improves Quality of Life in Type 2 Diabetes (10/07/14)
Soup Really Is Good Food (10/06/14)

 

 

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.


Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 3: Smart Monitoring

10 Keys to Long-Term Weight Loss

Take Your Best Shot: Stay Up to Date on Vaccines

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions