"Also, as a total culinary novice, what are some essentials you have stocked for baking and cooking in general? Basics? Spices? Frozen? Pretty much, I'm changing the way I eat--this means going beyond pouring skim milk over Honey Bunches of Oats--so any tips would be much appreciated."
I loved this question! I think that changing the way you eat can be so overwhelming, especially when you are trying to make healthy improvements. It's hard to know what is the healthiest options are when trying to revamp your fridge and pantry.
I am not including fresh produce here because that is something that you'll constantly be replenishing. These are more of the items that I always make sure I have on hand.
In the fridge...
Fat Free Ranch Dressing
La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortillas
Low-fat Cottage Cheese
Quick Rise Yeast
In the pantry...
Peanut Butter/Almond Butter (I think I have like 6 jars of different nut butter...I love em.)
Healthy Cereal (For me it's Kashi Go Lean Crunch, Special K Protein Plus, & Corn Bran)
Canned Beans - I usually have garbanzo, black, kidney, and white. They are great quick source of protein to put in salads, in soups, pastas, etc.
Canned Veggies - green beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato paste, etc.
Popcorn. A favorite snack of mine.
Whole Wheat Pasta (I don't use this a ton, but I like to have it every now and then)
Biochem Protein Powder
Sugar free hot chocolate
Fat free sugar free chocolate/banana pudding mixes (I use these to flavor my oatmeal)
Ground flax seed/chia seeds (can be added to anything)
In the freezer...
Frozen veggie mixes (Easy to steam and eat, throw in soups, add to stir fry, etc.)
Frozen Eda mame (I get the individual packs from Costo, they are an AWESOME snack)
Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Morning Star Veggie Patties/Black Bean Burgers
Frozen fruit for protein shakes (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Zucchini Cookies A go to snack for me.
Cinnamon. I use this DAILY. In my oatmeal, protein shakes, over sweet potatoes, in baking. I love the stuff.
Lowry's Season Salt. To spice up eggs, veggies, chicken.
Ground Black pepper
Other cooking spices include: onion powder, garlic salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, oregano, basil...etc.
Non-stick cooking spray - This is a MUST have. This saves tons of calories by not having to use butter or crisco to avoid sticking. It can also be used in place of oil in pans.
Whole Wheat flour
Because I bake for others a lot I always have all purpose flour and white sugar on hand as well.
My go-to Produce...
HUGE bags of Spinach and Broccoli from Costco. Apples, baby carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, cherub tomatoes, cuties, zucchini, yellow squash, whichever berries are cheapest!
Hopefully that is somewhat helpful! And now for the recipe:
Healthy Zucchini Bread
(Recipe makes two loaves)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups zucchini (grated or pureed in food processor)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups wheat flour (The wheat flour makes it VERY dense. If you don't like that consistancy you may want to use 1/2 wheat flour 1/2 all purpose flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
*I do want to note that if you like your breads really sweet you may want to add 1/4-1/2 cup more of brown sugar to the recipe, or add some agave/honey/splenda. It would also be tasty with some chocolate chips mixed in!
Mix together applesauce, brown sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and almond extract. Add dry ingredients. Mix in zucchini. Pour into two sprayed loaf pans, and sprinkle the tops with brown sugar. Bake at 350 for 40-45 mins. (You can use the toothpick method here.)
Nutrition Facts: Per one slice (Dividing each loaf into 10 slices)
What are some of your fridge/pantry staples? Do you find that you panic when these items start to run out? It is amazing how we get so used to our go-to items! Do you like zucchini bread? I LOVE it!