If there is one book we have been looking forward to this season, it’s the highly anticipated second release by our healthy kitchen guru, Laura Lea. Her website and social channels for her signature LL Balanced have long been a source for trusted and honest information about living well and eating right and her latest book, Simply Laura Lea is filled with fresh ideas and ingredients for bringing new energy to your kitchen. Trust us, no matter how many cookbooks that you have, this one is not to be missed. We are already pre-ordering our own copies as well as extras for Mother’s Day and wedding gifts this season.
While you will have to get your copy to truly benefit from the wealth of useful and positive information that she provides, she’s generously sharing a few of her must-have ingredients and favorite grocery items to always have on hand. Here, she offers not only her current favorites, but inventive ways to use them in easy recipes and meal prep.
Laura Lea’s Pantry Finds: 8 Items Your Pantry Needs Right Now
Trader Joe’s Baby Bananas: They taste like marshmallows! Great as a snack on their own, dipped in peanut or almond butter or chopped to top oatmeal or yogurt. No matter how you use them, they are a healthy sweet treat.
Kimchi: this lasts longer than most refrigerated items, and it will elevate everything from scrambled eggs to salads to grilled cheese. Plus, it’s full of probiotics! My favorite brand is Simply Kimchi from Whole Foods.
Ousley Ouch Salsa: Made in Nashville, this is the BEST salsa of all time in my opinion. The ingredient list is fabulous. In addition to using it for standard dipping and tacos, you can use Ousley to make one of my easiest family-friendly dinner recipes.
Instant Oatmeal Packets: Do you have some of these lying around? Mix a few with melted coconut oil or unsweetened applesauce and use a crumble topping over frozen fruit that might be in your freezer. Bake until fruit is bubbling, and topping is golden brown.
Canned Wild Salmon: We think of tuna as the canned go-to, but wild salmon contain less mercury and is full of healthy omega fatty acids. Mix with a few tablespoons each avocado-oil-based mayo and Dijon mustard, a splash of lemon juice, onion powder, pepper and a pinch of salt.
Semi-Dried Chives at Kroger: These are GOLD. They are packed with flavor, last for quite a while in the fridge and make pretty much every savory dish more delicious. Toss with roasted potatoes, mashed avocado toast or cooked chicken; stir into eggs, cooked grains or salmon/tuna/chickpea salad (see above)!
Canned Full-Fat Coconut Milk: This a great non-perishable (until opened), dairy-free alternative to heavy cream or half and half. It will have a slight coconut flavor, but I love it blended into coffee, added to boxed or canned soups for added creaminess or simmered with maple syrup for a homemade ‘condensed milk’.
Tahini: This is the savory cousin to almond or peanut butter, made from pureed sesame seeds. Look for one that has a runny consistency and a mild, nutty flavor without bitterness. I like the brand Haddar by Baracke from Amazon. You can drizzle it straight or mix it with a little toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and honey for an addictive sauce on roasted veggies, seared fish, cooked grains or beans or as a dip for raw veggies.