Long live long-life! Top 5 vegie boosts from the back of the pantry
by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter
- April 21, 2020
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We know that one of the most significant things that we can do as individuals right now is #stayathome to reduce the spread of coronavirus. This has a big impact on how a lot of us shop, prepare meals and ultimately, eat.
One of the simplest ways to shop less often is to buy foods with a longer shelf life. That’s our pantry pals tinned, jarred, dried and frozen foods. This is our ode to some of the lesser-known vegies in the pantry and freezer sections. And don’t worry; they’re just as nutritious as fresh!
Frozen veg are picked and packed at the peak of their season and freshness, those goodies all get locked in during the freezing process. Canned vegies are also comparable to freshly cooked vegies – except for having added salt. We recommend choosing no-added-salt versions where possible and giving them a rinse.
As an ingredient in a cooked dish, I always choose frozen spinach over fresh. Why? It’s just so efficient! Spinach takes up a lot of room in the fridge and wilts down to nothing when you cook it. Frozen spinach is pre-cooked, so all you need to do is throw it in at the end of cooking. It’s also a bit dryer than fresh spinach, and it’s easy to squeeze out the liquid once defrosted. This is important in dishes like spinach rolls or ravioli, where you don’t want your mix to get too runny.
Fresh corn is incredible, but canned and frozen corn is one of the hardest working items in my pantry. Canned kernels are super convenient, and the juice can be used in soups and sauces too. Shout out as well to corn spears (great as a toddler snack and in curries) and creamed corn (a secret ingredient for fabulous fritters).
Dried red lentils
They’re high fibre, high protein, quick cooking, dirt-cheap and super versatile. I always add in at least half a cup (dried) if I’m making a mince dish. They aren’t noticeable in the final product but they bulk up the dish and make it cheaper and more vegieful.
These pack a big flavour punch, and are an excellent way to get that big “umami” (savoury) flavour without having to add much salt. They are a delicious addition to any dish that you add tinned tomatoes to. They’re also lovely in salads, and you can use the oil to cook in too!
Like lentils, chickpeas are a good source of both protein and fibre. That’s the wonder of legumes! They’re a hearty addition to salads, and make an excellent vegie curry. They’re also the main ingredient in hummus… which is the main reason they’re on our list of favourites!
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