Nutritionists give advice on how to spring clean pantry

By Alison Johnson
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
As you’re sprucing up your house, pay attention to what’s in your food closets and cabinets too, nutritionists say:
n Purge the old … Toss anything that’s stale or past its use-by date. As a rule, foods and seasonings you didn’t use all winter probably could go – into the trash can or, if they haven’t expired, a food bank.
n … And the junky. Target obvious salt-, sugar- and fat-filled items, such as potato chips and cheese curls, packaged cookies and cakes, toaster pastries and fruit roll-ups.
n Stock up on the good stuff. Keep a regular supply of canned vegetables and tomatoes, marinara sauce, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, all ingredients for quick and healthy meals.
n Buy the right oils. In general, heart-healthy picks include canola, olive, sesame and sunflower oils, while worse choices are coconut, palm and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Balsamic and white vinegars also are a good way to add flavor.
n Add canned meats. Tuna, salmon and low-fat chicken can easily be turned into lunch or dinner. Be sure to buy meats packed in water – not oil, which adds a lot of calories and fat – and compare labels to avoid high-salt products.
n Add cereal. As a rule, go for boxes with at least three grams – and ideally five grams – of fiber, one gram of soluble fiber and fewer than two grams of saturated fat and 10 grams of sugar per serving. Note: You have a little sugar leeway with cereals that contain dried fruits, which have natural sugars.
n Get good snacks. Unsalted nuts and pretzels, rice cakes, baked chips and salsa and even dark chocolate bars are tasty foods to have on hand for hunger pangs between meals.

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