Be Well’s Favorite Pantry Staples for Optimal Health

If you were to drop by unannounced at any one of the kitchens of Team Be Well (mine included), it’s very likely you’d find many of the same items lining our pantry shelves. And it wouldn’t just be because we all like the same things (we don’t always). It would have a lot more to do with viewing food as medicine—the idea that healthy, whole foods have healing powers, delivering real, sustaining nutrition that keeps us well and feeling powered up. When you examine the vitamin and nutrient value tucked inside everything you eat, you can no longer look at the food you buy and eat as simply a means to the end of filling up three times a day. When you ask, What can this food do for me?, the thought of sugar, empty calories, and processed foods becomes less and less appealing, making smart choices a no-brainer.

My health coaches and I do, however, understand the challenges of modern life. We face them too. We get that it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to shop for and cook healthy food, but it is something we urge everyone to do to support their health. Even food billed as “healthy takeout” can be a lot less healthy than what you make at home, so don’t kid yourself.

So, how can you make sure your meals are loaded with everything your body needs to look, feel, and be well? Try our shopping and cook-at-home hacks, and over time, you’ll give your pantry the healthy makeover it needs. To get started, stock up on our favorite Be Well Pantry Essentials below, so you’ll always have what you need to whip up a quick, healthy meal no matter how little time you’ve got:

BE WELL PANTRY ESSENTIALS

Shopping List:

  1. Almond butter
  2. Almond flour, organic
  3. Almonds (and other nuts)
  4. Anchovies
  5. Apple cider vinegar
  6. Avocado oil
  7. Be Well protein powder
  8. Beans, black, white, red (BPA-free cans)
  9. Biltong or jerky (grass-fed)
  10. Black pepper
  11. Bone broth
  12. Chia seeds
  13. Cinnamon
  14. Cocoa powder, raw
  15. Coconut aminos
  16. Coconut flour
  17. Coconut milk, canned (in BPA-free cans)
  18. Coconut oil
  19. Collagen powder
  20. Extra-virgin olive oil
  21. Flax seeds
  22. Ghee
  23. Greens Powder
  24. Hemp seeds
  25. Herbs, dried
  26. Himalayan/Celtic sea salt
  27. Honey, raw
  28. Nuts and seeds
  29. Olives, green and black
  30. Sardines, in olive oil (BPA-free cans)
  31. Sockeye salmon/Wild-caught salmon (BPA-free cans)
  32. Stevia
  33. Tahini
  34. Tea: green, peppermint, rooibos, hibiscus, ginger
  35. Tomato sauce, organic (without added sugar or cheap oils)
  36. Turmeric (and other spices)
  37. Wild mackerel (BPA-free cans)

Shopping Tips:

  • Do your best to purchase organic/local food items to help keep the volume of chemicals and pesticides you ingest every day to a minimum.
  • Because organic might not always be possible, buy your fresh produce from the farmers’ market, generally grown with fewer toxic chemicals than their factory-farmed equivalents.
  • Contain both cost and chemical intake by buying fresh produce according to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen lists —the items you should always try to buy organic and the ones where conventionally grown is OK. 
  • When it comes to fish, meat, and poultry, my first word of advice is to eat less of it and buy the highest-quality animal products you can afford. Most of us don’t actually need to be eating animals twice a day, so consider lightening up on the animals and going much heavier on plants.
  • When shopping for fish, look for pole-caught, wild fish, not factory-farmed. Buy meat that’s pasture-raised and grass-fed, not just “grass finished.” And your poultry should be raised in humane conditions, on non-genetically-modified feed, and preferably pasture-raised. Bottom line: The less stressed and more naturally raised the animals are, the more nutritious they’ll be on your plate.
  • And perhaps the most important shopping tip of all? Don’t buy crap. If you don’t have processed foods, chips, and sugary snacks in the house, you can’t eat them!

Be Well Home Cooking Hacks:

The more you can systemize meal planning and, dare we say it, “idiot-proof” it, the more likely you’ll eat well. You’re literally not giving yourself the option to eat poorly; you’re setting yourself up to win. Here’s how to be the captain of your healthy-eating ship:

  • Take one evening a week to chop and prep veggies and make soups and stews. Freeze them in portion-size containers ahead of time so all you have to do is heat, add a salad on the side, top with a few small slices of meat, chunks of fish, or poultry (or not), and dig in.
  • Take your lunch to the office—and healthy snacks, too. You’ll save money and be completely in charge of the food you eat—and the quality—every day.
  • Drinking enough? Make every swig count. In addition to water and instead of coffee, sip on herbal teas, like rooibos, hibiscus, green, etc.
  • Cook for more than one meal! When you have time to do the cooking yourself, make enough food for leftovers so you can bring your own lunch to work OR enjoy a delicious dinner a second time around without any extra work.

And one last thing: Promise us you’ll never eat cereal at dinner (or, for that matter, breakfast) again!

PIONEER IN FUNCTIONAL AND INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE

For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How To Be Well, The New Health Rules, 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Dr. Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities.

In 1984, Dr. Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat people suffering from heroin and crack addiction. Seeing the way these patients responded so positively to acupuncture made him even more aware of the potential of implementing non- Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing. As a medical student, he was taught to focus on the disease rather than the patient, and now as a doctor he found himself treating symptoms rather than the root causes of illness. Frustrated by the constraints of his training, and the limitations in helping his patients regain true health, he began a journey of discovery to search for the path to meaningful long-term health and wellness.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Dr. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient chef Seamus Mullen told The New York Times, "If antibiotics are right, he'll try it. If it's an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things."

In addition to his practice, Dr. Lipman is the creator of Be Well, an expanding lifestyle wellness brand he founded in 2010 to help people create, sustain and lead healthier lives.