Inside the pantry of a Natural Foods Chef and Certified Health Coach

I hope you’re all having a fantastic week! I figured this post was best saved for before the weekend because many of you do your grocery shopping on the weekends to prep for the work week ahead. Hopefully this post inspires you to reorganize your pantry or to swap out some of the items that you cook with! This post is the kick-off of my new series about my top favorite health promoting pantry items. After today’s general overview, I will dive into each of my favorite products/food items to explain: health benefits, uses, storage, and buying. I hope you enjoy, and as always, I invite you to comment on today’s post to request any items that you would like me to talk about!


Also!! I did NOT organize/tidy my pantry for this because I wanted you to see how it looks in reality.. nothing’s every perfect!

Picture 7

First up:


So to start, the top shelf of my pantry has two bins. One is a basket full of onions, garlic, ginger, and avocados.. sometimes potatoes, and/or citrus. All shelf stable staples in my cooking. Not only are onions, garlic, and ginger a delicious way to round out the flavors of a dish, they are also: antimacrobial (sickness fighters), quercetin rich (a phytonutrient that is known as an antioxidant cancer fighter.. among a handful of other benefits), nervous system replenishing, digestive stimulants. Can’t ignore that!

The second bin is full of:

  • Sea Vegetables: Other than nori, I didn’t cook much with my sea vegetables this summer  because I tend to use them in soups, stews, or hearty winter meals. Sea vegetables are so mineral rich that they are a great thing to supplement your winter diet.  -keep an eye out for my upcoming post that will dive into the benefits of sea vegetables!


  • Himalayan or mined salt: I hate to break it to you but the ship has sailed on the sea salt fad (no pun intended). Don’t get me wrong, anything is better than table salt, or the salt contained in sodium rich processed foods, but the real mineral benefit comes from deep down in the unpolluted, highly well preserved mountains of the salty waters from thousands of years ago. What are benefits of salt exactly? Himalayan salt helps regulate your body’s blood sugar, water, and PH levels (very important!), it also promotes respiratory and vascular health. – More on this coming soon!

The next shelf down is where I keep liquids, or semi-solids that I use to enhance flavor (sweet, salty, bitter, sour), quick flavor starters (aka cheaters curry paste, or lazy Asian boosts), or to add fat. Note, all of my “cheater flavors” are STILL extremely healthful versions, i.e. free of gluten, refined oils, processed salts, and processed sugar to name a few basic things to avoid. Some of my favorite items from the top left:

  • ZOE Spanish Olive Oil (their Greek Olive Oil is great too)
  • Coconut Secret, both Aminos and Nectar (Note: aminos should be kept in the fridge, this is unopened.. and should be in the “extras” section of my pantry)
  • Vinegars, and infused (high quality) oils
  • Nut/seed butters
  • Raw honey
  • No clue why the capers are there and not in the “extras section”.. but capers too haha

That last shelf you see if full of canned, boxed, and dried foods.. here’s what I always keep on hand up there:

  • Rice noodles (for stir-fries and Asian meals)*
  • Tinkyada GF pastas*
  • Quinoa brand pastas*
  • Kelp noodles (seaweed noodles that are not dried or exposed to high heats/over processing)
  • You also probably are seeing the GF Annie’s Mac N’ Cheese.. not a staple just a random buy for a treat

*Keep in mind that processed grains/flours should be consumed infrequently.. that means all pastas even of the GF variety

  • Canned coconut milk (I’ve been looking for boxed but I don’t believe it exists yet) great for curries and various other Indian cuisine, thickening soups + stews, and for use as cooking liquid *UPDATE: Since I posted this, a peer sent me an Amazon link of tetra-packed coconut milk!!
  • Boxed or packaged ready to use beans (garbanzo, black, kidney, cannellini) for the days when I haven’t had time or planned to pre-soak my dried beans
  • Premade polenta and quinoa polenta blend.. great for lazy day use or preparing a meal in a pinch

Next up…


Opened grains and dried beans/legumes are kept in air tight mason jars to extend the volatile shelf lives as much as possible. I highly recommend storing any dried good in these excellent, non-toxic containers. Some of my favorite grains, beans, and legumes?:

  • Garbanzo
  • Black
  • Kidney
  • Adzuki
  • Cannellini (white beans)
  • Lentils of all variety
  • Polenta
  • Short and long grain brown rice
  • Arborio (risotto rice)
  • Quinoa
  • Sushi rice
  • Amaranth
  • Farro
  • Forbidden or black rice
  • GF oats!

Yes, that tub of coconut oil is too big for my liquids shelf! Coconut oil which, along with butter, I use the most frequently in cooking and baking. I will talk about this in more detail on the second installment of this series, coming tomorrow morning!

Moving on…



The top right section of my pantry is full of dried herbs and spices. I’m currently in the process of replacing the conventional spices for organic. Pretty basic stuff as far as that goes here… my favorite spice is cumin!

Also, don’t be afraid to cook with (high quality) spice blends. Yes, it’s great to create your own spice blends for each meal if you are adventurous and enjoy blending, or go through enough of each spice that they don’t spoil. But in reality, that’s not the majority of us, myself included. Again.. don’t be afraid to cook with high quality spice blends! Add in different spices here and there in addition to your usuals to change up the flavor of different dishes, but don’t worry about using the same few blends frequently! Just make sure they are organic, and contain real herbs and spices ONLY.. no toxic fillers or binders please and thank you!

Now what you are probably seeing that is unusual to you is dried sea vegetables in the form of spice shakers. See above for the benefits of cooking with sea vegetables. I recommend:

  • Maine Coast Sea Vegetables (see the blue container that looks like it has a sky for the label? and the hidden red one behind the ground ginger?)… followed by Bragg’s sea vegetable blends (yellow cap, between the huge tub of cinnamon and the red Maine Coast Sea Veg.) – Again, keep an eye out for my upcoming post about the benefits of sea vegetables!

The last shelf in the above picture is of my shelf stable randoms, and unopened tomato/stock items. I alway  keep:

  • Tomato paste (in a tube for easy portioning)
  • Crushed and pureed tomatoes (preferably in tetra paks.. aka boxes. More on why later..)
  • and, lots of Stock (yes you see chicken stock, yes I am still a vegetarian.. I believe in the health benefits of high quality chicken broth, so I eat it.. there are no rules here!)

And we’re moving on again…


This picture is my “extras” shelf. Unopened items that I have an excess of, or that are already in glass jars waiting to be topped off.

By the way I keep all of my nuts, seeds, and opened flours in my freezer, which I will do an installment on, too!

Welp, that’s all folks. I hope that you enjoyed a little look inside my pantry, and that you will be inspired to reorganize and rejuvenate the contents of your pantry! Come back tomorrow for my post about coconut oil!


2nd installment: So, What’s all the fuss about coconut oil? The benefits of coconut oil revealed

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