SPOTLIGHT: WHAT’S IN MY PANTRY

There are always the must have // staples in my pantry and I am embarrassed to admit that this is only 1 of the many that I have. Sometimes I feel that my apartment is actually built like the aisles of the grocery store.  I do like to keep my kitchen stocked at all times with the staples that I use every single day, since I am recipe testing OR just flat out use them so much that I go through each ingredient quickly! 

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In order to save money, or at least try to save as much as I can; I tend to buy in bulk; especially when ordering online, use coupons, order through places such as Amazon or Thrive Market to find the products at a cheaper price, and I almost always buy name brands; especially nuts/seeds and many of my nut butters for example are Whole Foods brands which are almost 8 dollars cheaper than the average or I go to other stores if I can! 

For this post; I wanted to just focus on the ones that I use the absolute most or find to be the most important for my body. These are the ingredients or products that I have on hand 24-7. I am not showing you my cooking oils, my fridge, and my two other cabinets that are filled with my snack type of things, but maybe we can get to those another day! 

Hopefully you find this helpful, useful, and I share a bit as to why I use it or how I incorporate it into my everyday routine. Just remember, this isn't everything seen above, but just a spotlight on some of my favorites and what I think is the most important. If you do search throughout my blog you will see some of the other products used in recipes!

SPICES: 
Cinnamon (naturally sweeten things up, balances blood sugar levels)
Turmeric; if you search my blog I have over 5 recipes with turmeric: smoothie, warming drink, energy bites, cauliflower steak, cookies
Ginger (big one for me: digestion) 
Nutritional Yeast; nutty, cheesy flavor, source of b12/b6; I also buy the one that contains protein, contains selenium, antiviral and antibacterial properties
Sesame Seeds
Pink Himaylan Sea Salt
Misc. ones, but always come in handy: cumin, curry powder, nutmeg, cayenne pepper

PROTEIN POWDERS: I think this is probably one of the questions that I get asked a great deal; especially since I have a dealt with gut issues (read about some of it there) my whole life and I feel that most protein powders on the market can aggravate an already sensitive stomach. You all want to know; which ones to use, stay away from, which ones do I personally use etc. To be honest, I try to get most of my protein from plants, wild caught fish, and nuts/seeds but occasionally (a few times a week) I add in protein powder in my smoothies, yogurts or when I am making my own energy bites. 

There are two on the market that I currently love. One I have been using for many years; Philosophie and then a new one that I just found recently, that is also a plant based protein called; VitalFit Nutrition. Between both, I have found that neither bother my stomach and I can easily digest them without wrecking havoc, causing any abdominal pain, bloating, and they blend in easier into smoothies! Plus they are both filled with a good amount of protein and contain no added sugars, gums, things like inulin or chicory root (which tends to bother me)- which are all things that I look for when picking out protein powders. 

VitalFit Nutrition

  • Free of: gluten, grains, sugar, soy, wheat, and it is dairy free. 
  • Contains digestive enzymes and the base is made from cold pressed pumpkin seeds!
  • **Side note: digestive enzymes can be super helpful for anyone that has IBS, leaky gut, or the like because it can help take off the stress of the GI track and just help you break down protein easier!  You then can absorb more nutrients! Ideally, this is perfect for someone like me! I take a digestive enzyme everyday before my two largest meals, so having digestive enzymes in a protein powder is an added bonus! 
  • I like how this protein powder is made with pumpkin seeds because they are a great source of magnesium and omega 3's which I need a diet that is rich, for obvious reasons, but mainly it also helps with my migraines. I try to eat foods that are plenty rich in magnesium because that release of serotonin from them *can hopefully* relax some of those blood vessels and help reduce some of the inflammation that my head is feeling. 
  • I only use about half a scoop which still gives me over 11 grams of protein (a full scoop gives you 24 grams) and use it in the obvious ways: smoothies, homemade energy bites, yogurts, warm drinks (turmeric lattes; their protein powder is a vanilla flavor, tastes amazing in this drink FYI)
  • I also stick to about half a scoop in my smoothies because it can be on the sweeter side, but in a good way & perfect if you want to stick to a fruitless smoothie! I have found that I now do not need to add in any bananas, dates etc to my smoothies because the protein powder gives it a touch of sweetness, which is perfect for me since I can't always tolerate fruit nor dates. 
  • Bonus!!! It is locally made; in Boston, by two guys who actually care what is being put into our bodies; they work with some of the top trainers here listening to what they are lacking or needing in hopes to constantly evolve their product to deliver what they need in order to train, teach, and reach their own goals, faster and smarter. How cool?! They are also in the process of doing some other pretty innovative things; focusing all on recovery component vs that pre-work out boost and working with local companies in Boston! 

Philosophie: I have been using the protein powders (3 different flavors, Cacao Magic, Green Dream, Berry Bliss), coconut butters, and the honey consistently for many years! This was actually the first brand of protein powders that I used and truly love the ingredients. 

*Spotlight on the Cacao Magic Superfood Protein Blend: No sugar, contains ingredients like cacao, cacao nibs, reishi, mesquite, maca powder, hemp protein, chia seeds, and vanilla. That's it! (All organic). It is high in antioxidants and magnesium. It tastes so good and also provides an energizing, caffeine-free power boost and I do find that I need to add at least 2 servings for a chocolate taste, which then gives you 20 grams of protein! I personally love this one or the Green Dream and stick to just one serving since it is pretty "green" tasting, but so good for you! I love that it contains spirulina! I find it to be detoxifying! You can check out many different recipes on my blog that use the Cacao Magic Superfood just by searching it! 

*I also love the superfood honey because it contains the same ingredients as the protein blends so you are getting additional nutritional bonus including the benefits of honey, alone. I tend to use this solely when I am sick (take a spoonful for its' antibacterial purposes) or will use this as a replacer for anything sweet, if needed. The coconut butters also include the ingredients of the superfood protein blends, sweetened with honey, and full of healthy fats. The green dream and the cacao magic are my favorite. You can use these the same way you would as regular coconut butter, but I love that they have a bit of a flavor and are filled with *superfoods* so you are getting an additional benefit when you are using them besides just healthy fats. 

SUPPLEMENTS:

L-Glutaime:
I have a dedicated blog post coming soon, stay posted! For now, I am mainly taking it to help repair/rebuild my gut/intestines after having leaky gut. It can be very beneficial for anyone that suffers from gastrointestinal health. It is also great for muscle recovery and improving performance; if you train intensely or just looking to optimal recovery from your workouts! More to come. I love the brand Pure Encapsulations. 

VitalFit Nutrition: Tart Cherry: I have a hard time taking advil or any pain medications because of the damage that it presents to my gut; therefore I either totally stay away or need to look into more herbal or holistic approaches. Two of the main functions of these capsules is that it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. So, you can take it the same way as you would with a pain reliever yet you would feel those nasty side affects on your body; just relieve from soreness, tenderness; or any pain within a few hours! 

SilverFern Probiotics: Read my blog post here

HUM Nutrition: The two that I take are: Daily Cleanse & Flatter Me. The Flatter Me, is actually a digestive enzyme, to help improve your digestion and absorb nutrients more efficiently. The Daily cleanse: helps cleanse your skin, bowels, liver and is made with over 15 detoxifying herbs. These are my favorite two so far and have been taking them for just about 3 months now and started to notice a difference a month in, in a good way! 

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Vital Proteins: 
Marine Collagen: If you are just starting off, I would start here! If you search "collagen" on my blog you can find out so many ways that I have incorporated it into recipes; salad dressings, smoothies, soups, protein bars, breads, just about anything- it can be added to! It has greatly improved my gut health, skin health, helps with any type of joint pain, hair growth (seriously, my hair does not stop growing), and nail strength! The biggest for me, is obviously gut health: helps heal leaky gut and can help with "sealing" the lining of the gastrointestinal track // helps with the absorption of water to help things stay moving. I make sure I have this every single day; at least 1-2 scoops. 

Beauty Water; I also use their beauty water, lavender lemon, and mix it in my apple cider, lemon, water by adding in about 1 tbsp or more. It can easily be mixed into smoothies, see my stress relief smoothie, here! It is subtle taste, but I do like it with other things and prefer it that way vs. on it’s own. I find it to be refreshing and there is no added sugars
Benefits: 
Hydrating for skin, keeps skin firm / improve elasticity & same benefits as the collagen!

Navitas Naturals: These are the three that I tend to stick with and use the most! 

Cacao powder. I use cacao powder every single day.
*No sugar
*Deep rich // chocolate taste (can be bitter)
*Natural boost of energy, contains antioxidants, magnesium, boosts my mood, contains fiber, less processed than cacoa powder, it is raw, 

Cacao nibs: same as above! I love adding these into my homemade energy bites, protein bars, on top of my yogurt, smoothies, oatmeals. They can have more of a bitter taste than sweet! 

Maca powder:
*Use 1 tsp - 1tbsp at a time
*Improve hormones
*Increase energy // stamina
*Improve sexual function
*Everyone is different, so I would just test it out and see if it works for you or not! It is claimed to restore proper hormone balance and elevate that feel good mood endorphins and I try to take it a few times a week by simply adding it into my smoothies! For me personally, it can have a strong taste, so a little goes a long way. Usually during my period I try to increase my intake (the week before and during) hoping that it elevates any symptoms and I have noticed that I don’t experience cramping as often and as much bloating! It is not overly sweet tasting, maca has a natural nutty, slightly sweet quality to it, similar to cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Granola: 
Paleo Passion Foods:
*Ingredients: walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut oil (& a few more) making the grain free granola higher in protein than most & more fiber, so you will stay fuller longer. I have three recipes on my blog using the granola! And, the best part, 1 serving size has only 4 grams of sugar. While most other granolas are full of refined sugar, carbohydrates and lower in protein. *Honey/maple Syrup to sweeten: maple syrup is lower on the glycemic level and affects your blood sugar less than white sugar. Both honey and maple syrup have antioxidant properties, help reduce inflammation in your skin, and they make a great alternative for improved digestion. I have actually found that this is one of the only granolas that doesn’t bother my stomach if I ever over do it. 

Nut Butters:
Nuttzo: even though it can be on the pricer side I love this one because each jar contains 10 different nuts/seeds (cashews, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds etc!) High in protein and very little sugar no added oils! 
Georgia Grinders: No added oils, just the nut butter and salt! 11 different flavors! 
Whole Foods 365: I usually always buy the whole foods brand because it is the cheapest! Organic; the nut and salt as the addition.
Sunbutter: Nut-free! Energy bite here, on my blog! 

Obviously there are other things that are hiding in my pantry that I use every so often, but the ones above are a few of the things that I tend to use every single day. I can work on creating a PDF guide of everything; fridge and all pantry (snacks, cooking oils, etc from brands to generic) that is downloadable that might be helpful when grocery shopping! A lot of you probably know this information, but It is easier to have it up here written out so I can refer you back here always, instead of it being missed in a post // story. I personally think that some of these are a good place to start and a good investment in your health and you will start to notice a difference in your overall well-being, over time because remember nothing is ever a quick fix!