the Menu is Jugni Style’s newest lifestyle column, bringing you details on where to eat, what to eat and how to make it. Plus tips on entertaining like a pro – or at least pretending you are!
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons: new fall fashions, a refreshed TV lineup (soo excited for The Mindy Project!) and relief from the dog days of summer – I consider this time to be my ‘new year.’
Naturally, a new year means making new year’s resolutions. On the top of my list — eat better and cook more. Like many working professionals, I don’t have a lot of time each day to spend in the kitchen and there’s only so much takeout Greek food I can afford. Meals need to be simple, easy and healthy. The secret weapon: staple ingredients and recipes. Here are some tips on how to stock up and shape up your pantry. Your waistline and your wallet will thank you.
Your Pantry List
Grains and Legumes
Rice – brown rice, basmati rice
Pasta – a variety of noodles and shell pastas
A few notes: Growing up, I never had quinoa or soba noodles; they just didn’t exist in my desi diet, but I wish they had! These gems were discovered a few years ago and are absolute staples in my diet due to their health benefits. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, is a great source of iron, magnesium, and riboflavin, which is important for heart health and regulating blood pressure.
I often substitute soba noodles in traditional pasta recipes. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat (if you buy 100% pure buckwheat soba noodles, they’re gluten-free) and best of all, the noodles cook in mere minutes!
TIP: Unlike other grains, quinoa can go bad quickly so keep it in small quantities in an airtight, dry container in the fridge.
Canned Goods and Bottled Items
Canned tomato paste
Tuna – packed in water
Light coconut milk
A few notes: Beans are great for quickly whipping up spreads and hummus, vegetarian burritos and quesadillas, and as add-ons to salads.
Fresh is always ideal, but for everyday use remember time is of the essence! Canned beans are great timesavers. Keep a variety of beans like chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto, black beans, etc. Always remember to rinse the beans well before using to wash away the salty brine in which the beans are stored. Canned tomatoes are great for whipping up quick pasta sauces (simmer with salt, pepper, chopped onion and garlic) and to use on homemade pizzas.
TIP: Choose San Marzano tomatoes – they’re known as the best for making sauces.
the Menu is a monthly food and entertaining column by Naveen Atwal.
Photography: Francis Bijl, christmasstockimages.com, Nefisa’s Ring on Flickr, and simplycooking.com.