Pantry Makeover

Give Your Food Cupboards a Healthy Makeover


Well-stocked food cupboards are a must for busy people; it will save you over and over again when you find yourself in a dinner pinch. And to stack the healthful-eating odds in your favour, it's essential to stock your pantry with great-tasting, healthy choices.

If you are new to healthy eating, take time to start replacing some of your old spices and cooking oils with healthier versions than what you may currently have lurking in the depths of your darkened cupboards.

Giving your pantry a nutritional makeover is as easy as 1-2-3! Follow our three simple steps to transform your pantry into one that will help you eat light and right.




  1. Minimize empty-calorie foods ­ the ones that deliver lots of calories without much nutrition. The two infamous types of empty-calorie culprits are:


    • Things with lots of sugar and other caloric sweeteners. Examples: soda and sweetened drinks, cakes, cookies, pastries, pies, candy and chocolate bars, frozen milk desserts, snack cakes, and cereal bars.


    • Things with lots of added fats and oil. Examples: mayonnaise, chips, microwave popping corn, crackers, cookies, pies and pastries, packaged muffins, snack cakes, and mixes.


    When possible, try to switch to alternatives to your empty-calorie favourites. Could you be happy with light mayonnaise instead of regular? Can you drink a diet soft drink a day instead of a regular, sugar-laden soft drink? Is there a higher-fibre, less-sugary breakfast cereal that suits you?

  2. Stock up on great-tasting, more-healthful alternatives for foods you know and love.Here are a few healthy choices, some for snacking and others for preparing meals:Canned, fat-free refried beans.Canned diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce (lower-sodium versions are best).


    Brown rice (it comes in regular or a quick version by Uncle Ben's).


    Quick or old-fashioned oats. You can buy packets of microwave oatmeal — Quaker Nutrition for Women — that have added soy protein, calcium, and folic acid.


    Whole-grain breakfast cereals. These should have a whole grain listed as the first ingredient, at least 4 grams of fibre per cup, and not too much fat or sugar.


    Fat-free microwave popcorn.


    Canned soups with more fibre (5 grams or more per serving) and less fat and sodium than most, such as Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Soup,


    Whole-wheat pastry flour. Substitute this for half the white flour in recipes to increase fibre and nutrients without a big difference in flavour or texture.


    Artificial sweetener can replace half of the sugar in most bakery recipes, to cut calories without a noticeable difference in flavour or texture.

  3. Eliminate or greatly reduce saturated and trans-fats in your pantry.Nothing good, health wise, can come from eating trans-fats. Some experts advise that trans and saturated fats together should make up no more than 10% of our total calories. Others say our trans-fat intake should be as close to zero as possible.


    However, until food companies start changing the way they make certain products, wherever there are processed foods, there are bound to be trans- fats and/or saturated fats. Trans- fats hide in thousands of processed foods – margarine, crackers, cookies, cereal bars, microwave popcorn, and frozen convenience foods and snacks.


    Since 2006 food companies have had to start listing how many grams of trans- fats their products contain on labels.