How to Stock Your Pantry for a Heart Healthy Fall
When autumn rolls around, be ready, with a pantry full of healthy foods for comforting meals. Load up the cupboard with canned salmon and tuna, beans, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, and more. Then turn your autumn bounty into delicious heart-healthy meals with these top-rated recipes.
You'll always have quick, healthy meals at the ready when you store your pantry with canned salmon and tuna (for quick fish cakes and pastas) and canned beans (for quick soups and as additions for pastas, stews, quick skillets, and as protein replacements for meat in some recipes) and all manner of canned tomatoes (whole, diced, pureed).
Salmon is a good sources of Omega-3s, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Here, canned salmon is combined with capers, a little dill weed, cucumber, and avocado. If you like, sub in olive oil and a splash of vinegar in place of the creamy salad dressing.
A daily avocado, it turns out, could keep bad cholesterol at bay, according to research. For more healthy avocado recipes, check out Avocado Recipes to Beat Back Bad Cholesterol.
Canned beans and quinoa come down from the cupboard to create these 5-star veggie burgers. "These vegetarian burgers are delicious!" says DownHomeCitySisters. "Your carnivorous friends will be impressed. My favorite way to serve is on a whole-wheat bun with garlic-lemon mayonnaise, fresh raw spinach, sliced tomato, and caramelized onions!"
This recipe features pantry staples like canned tuna and tomatoes, dried pasta, and olive oil. "Spaghetti al tonno is one of my all-time favorite go-to pasta dishes," says Chef John. "When I want something quick and easy for a weeknight meal, I reach for the tuna. What if you don't like fish? Then this is perfect. The taste and texture is really closer to a veal sauce than one made with fish."
Canned artichokes and jarred sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil combine here with lean skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces in this healthy Mediterranean-style meal. "This recipe is great!" says cookingqueen. "I added spinach at the end and let it wilt to add a little more vegetable to the dish. I would definitely make this again."
"This version is healthier than salmon patties made with mayo," says tinalyn. "Everyone I've made this for has asked for the recipe. I would love to hear any improvements and/or variations you make to this simple recipe. Enjoy!"
Lots of healthy ingredients in this comforting, quick-and-easy soup: canned garbanzo beans, peanut butter, chunky salsa, and diced sweet potato and zucchini. "An unusual combination of simple ingredients that render a spicy, tasty soup that's ready in less than 45 minutes," says Colleen Campo.
Cans of tomatoes and cannellini beans combine with olive oil, kale, and potatoes for a quick, super-healthy dinner. "This wonderful soup will warm your insides, delight your taste buds, and fill your stomach on a cold winter's night," says Donna B. "It is full of dark green kale, potatoes, and cannellini beans."
"For my nicoise-style tuna salad, just open three cans: one each of tuna, white beans, and sliced olives," says Ben S. "Toss these ingredients with slivered red onion, olive oil and lemon juice. Take time, if you like, to boil eggs, or pick them up at the grocery salad bar. Serve the salad with steamed green beans. For an even simpler version, add a little chopped parsley to the salad for color and serve it with salted tomato slices."
Make heart-healthy olive oil your go-to oil for quick salad dressings (mix it 3 parts olive oil to one part lemon juice), as a healthy fat for sauteing veggies, fish, and chicken breasts, and for drizzling over pastas and cooked vegetables.
"By gently poaching fresh ahi tuna in olive oil, you can create a tuna fish of exceptional quality," says Chef John. "The taste and texture are amazing, and you can adapt this in many ways. Besides switching up herbs and seasonings, you can cook the fish to a wide range of doneness."
Whole Grains Including Whole Wheat Pastas
Choose healthy, high-fiber whole grains -- whole wheat, barley, bulgur, whole oats, brown rice, quinoa. Whole wheat pastas have come a long way in the past few years. These days, many cooks even prefer the nutty flavor and textural bite of whole wheat pastas. So if you gave up on whole wheat pastas in the early days, give them another chance.
Dry bulgur wheat combines with canned tuna for a healthy, pantry-friendly meal that's easy to prepare. "Excellent," raves jessi0343. "We really loved this recipe!! My husband and I made it as a meal, and served it on top of some lettuce or baby spinach. It was so tasty."
If fresh tomatoes aren't available, try adding a few spoonfuls of fresh salsa. It's a great way to use up leftover lean chicken breast meat. "This has a great fresh flavor and is so easy for a weeknight meal," says Sroch. "The avocado is a fun alternative to a mayo dressing. Serve alone, on top of lettuce, or in a whole wheat pita."
Cooked bulgur wheat combines with canned black beans and corn, grape tomatoes, diced green bell pepper, red onion, and fresh chile pepper, dressed up with a fresh lime juice, olive oil, and vinegar dressing. "A twist on tabbouleh, Mexican style!" says Zest to Impress. "This recipe is fresh, easy, and nutritious. Ole!"
To make these savory meatballs you'll combine old-fashioned oats with lean ground turkey. Serve them with marinara sauce over zoodles or whole grain pasta.
Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit
Heart healthy nuts are packed with good fats, cholesterol-improving sterols, and an amino acid that keeps blood vessels in good shape. Nuts make a terrific heart healthy (and satiating) snack. Add them to salads, too.
Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cranberries, goji berries, raisins, and chocolate chips (look for dark chocolate chips) create a trail mix that is full of antioxidants. "It will give you a boost of energy to start your day, or keep you going if you're on the go!" says srtickle.
Nut butters are always good to keep on hand. Even better, a jar of your own homemade peanut butter. Peanut butter has a lot going for it; it brings satiating fiber and protein and, believe it or not, has an unsaturated-to-saturated-fat ratio that resembles olive oil. For ideas on what to do with your peanut butter, check out 12 Easy Dinners From A Jar Of Peanut Butter.
Pistachios are a super-healthy snack, packing antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, plus "bad" cholesterol-lowering sterols. "This is a tasty dinner salad, topped with tender slices of pistachio encrusted chicken," says Sara. "If you don't care for spinach, you can substitute field greens."
This crunchy, colorful salad is a great way to eat your fruits, veggies, and nuts! Roasted cashews, avocados, and grapes combine with cherry tomatoes, fresh edamame, and bell peppers, all dressed up with a simple olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. "This colorful salad is tasty and healthy," says Jenn Harmon Jones. "Sometimes I add mango or papaya for a nice change. The possibilities are endless."
Check out our collection of Heart-Healthy Recipes.