7/6/11

Top 10 Items to Stock Your Pantry – Part 5: Healthy Fats

Today’s post continues with my countdown on the top ten items to have on hand in your pantry. The focus of this post and my favorite category: healthy fats!

Missed the first part of the Top 10 List?
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is great for a variety of cooking needs to incorporate some healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into your diet. One of my favorite uses of olive oil is as a salad dressing! Use it alone or with some seasonings and balsamic vinegar for a tasty salad topper. I’ve also found it gives baked goods an interesting, unique flavor when used instead of a more traditional vegetable oil.

NuValTM Recommendation:
Most extra virgin olive oils receive a NuValTM score of 11, so pick the brand you prefer! Are you wondering why the NuValTM score seems a little on the low end? The overall score, just like other oils, is the result of total fat content as well as energy density (high amount of calories in a small serving). Extra virgin olive oil receives a higher score than some other oils due to the higher amounts of healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. While canola oil receives a higher NuValTM score with a slightly greater percentage of polyunsaturated (omega-3) fatty acids, I still recommend extra virgin olive oil as a more versatile multi-purpose oil.

1. Peanut Butter

This is my favorite food of all time and the absolute one item I can’t live without! Peanut butter is a great source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and protein that can be added to almost any meal or snack. The best part is that it is easily portable and doesn’t require refrigeration. Peanut butter can do much more than make a great sandwich. Try it as a dipper for apples, a topping for whole wheat waffles, or even as a marinade for chicken.

NuValTM Recommendation: Smart Balance Creamy Peanut Butter
This peanut butter receives a score of 23, much higher than many other peanut butters. The higher score relates to the 320mg of Omega 3 ALA, 20% of your Daily Value, per two tablespoon serving. Also, unlike many other peanut butters, this one contains no hydrogenated oils, so no trans fat!

I hope you have enjoyed this list and find it helpful. Maybe you already keep many of these items in your pantry, but I hope you’ll at least find the value and flexibility in these items, and maybe some ideas for different ways to use them in your kitchen. Are there items you can’t live without in your pantry? Please share! I’m always looking for new suggestions and ideas!


Maren is a guest blogger for Market Street. She is a Texas Woman’s University dietetic intern and graduate student in exercise and sports nutrition. Maren is a graduate of Iowa State University and is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. She enjoys cooking, baking and experimenting in the kitchen! Her first memory of culinary experimentation was around the age of 3, creating a peanut butter and mustard sandwich. Maren’s other hobbies include traveling, tasting new cuisines, grocery shopping, ballroom dancing with her fiancé and walking her puppy, Waltz.

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