Stock Up for Easy, Nutritious Meals
Paula Gallagher, MFN, RD, LD
Have you ever opened your pantry to find that there isn’t much in there? Certainly nothing that could be used to create a healthy meal. It’s difficult to whip up a flavorful entrée when the pantry is bare. For those with Sucrose Intolerance or for people who may be experiencing symptoms of Sucrose Intolerance, a bare pantry can cause unwanted stress. However, if the kitchen pantry is stocked with just a few basic staples, there is always the possibility of an easy, low-sucrose meal to keep any gut-related symptoms at bay!
With some key items in your pantry, you won’t find yourself needing to order take out or stopping by the drive-through on the way home. So why not save money, eat healthier, and feel better by keeping a few basics on hand? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Canned Seafood or Chicken
Protein does not naturally contain carbohydrates, so proteins are a naturally sucrose-free option. Canned tuna or salmon are both great protein options since they are convenient and can be eaten on the go. Stick with the tuna or salmon cans or packets that have no flavorings added. A simple low-sodium, chunk-light tuna is safe for those who experience gas, bloating, or other gut symptoms associated with sucrose. Canned chicken is also a great protein option.
- Make tuna patties for a quick lunch or dinner by mixing tuna with Dijon mustard, lemon zest, and chopped onion.
- Add chicken to a green salad for a quick lunch or toss chicken with casserole ingredients for dinner.
Vinegars and Olives
Vinegars like balsamic and white vinegar can be used to create your own salad dressing that is free of sucrose. While most prepackaged salad dressings have sugar as an ingredient, consider taking advantage of all the different vinegar options and make your own. Olives are another pantry staple since they add a rich flavor to entrees.
- For a quick balsamic vinaigrette, blend balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and Dijon mustard.
- Add Kalamata olives to any Mediterranean dish and add black olives to the top of a taco salad.
Most spices are generally well tolerated by those following a low-sucrose diet. In fact, spices like garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and others are all naturally low in sucrose. Use caution when selecting premixed seasoning like a taco seasoning packet since sugar is sometimes used as a filler in these packets. Most of the time, you can create your own seasoning packet from spices stocked in your pantry.
- Season chicken filets with salt, pepper, sage and thyme or top frozen fish fillets with lemon pepper and salt to add zest.
- Try making your own taco seasoning by combining chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt.
Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit
Look for nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in the bulk bins at your grocery store. Bulk bins are convenient because you can take as little or as much as you’d like. Nuts and seeds are generally well-tolerated by those with sucrose-related gastrointestinal symptoms. Almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and macadamia nuts are all naturally low in sucrose.
Some dried fruits can be low in sucrose, but portion size really matters! For example, currants and raisins can be eaten on a low-sucrose diet, but a serving is two tablespoons. Eating more than two tablespoons in one sitting may cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
Nut butters are sometimes also found near the bulk bins and are another important pantry staple. Almond butter, peanut butter, and sunflower butter can all be low in sucrose and are good sources of protein. Before you buy, check the ingredients to be sure that the nut or seed is the only ingredient. Sugar is sometimes added to these nut/seed butters as a flavor enhancer, but many brands have no added sugar.
- Toss a handful of nuts into your salad to add crunch and some protein or sauté some almonds into your green beans.
- Make your own trail mix by combining two tablespoons of dried fruit with two tablespoons of nuts or seeds (or both).
- Spread a tablespoon or two of peanut butter on whole wheat bread for a healthy on-the-go breakfast.
Canned foods and foods found in glass containers are convenient since they have a long shelf life and will keep for quite a while in the pantry. Vegetables in cans or glass containers – green beans, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and even asparagus, for example – are suitable for those focusing on a low-sucrose diet. Broths and stocks are other staples that are generally low in sucrose. Before purchasing any canned item, be sure to check the ingredient list to ensure that sugar has not been added to the product.
- Create your own soup or stew from scratch using canned broth and vegetables.
- Use canned tomatoes and spices to create your own spaghetti sauce, freshen up a Mexican entrée, or add to a crock pot of soup.
Stock Up Today
A well-stocked pantry is the most important tool for planning meals that are healthy, tasty, and make you feel good. With a pantry full of low-sucrose items, it’s easy to create a delicious meal without all the symptoms later. These pantry-stocking tips may help decrease your gut symptoms, but be sure to talk to your doctor if your symptoms affect your day-to-day life.
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