Cooking with Pantry Staples

• Tuscan Bean Soup
• Chickpea Coconut Curry
• Cooking with Kids: Whole Wheat Flatbread

Keep these pantry staples on-hand to make healthy meals in a flash:

1. Canned Tomatoes: Diced, whole or tomato sauce can serve as a great starter for soups, stews and pasta sauce.
2. Canned Black Beans: Add to your favorite chili recipe or wrap black beans and cheese in a warm corn tortilla.
3. Canned Chickpeas: Make your own hummus. Rinse canned beans to reduce sodium.
4. Canned Tuna: Add protein to salads or fill a whole wheat pita with tuna salad for fast meals on the go. Rinse canned fish to reduce sodium.
5. Dried Pasta: No matter the shape or size, boxed pasta is the perfect starting point for any thirty-minute meal. Eating out can be expensive. Many foods can be prepared for less money (and more healthfully) at home. Pre-packaged foods, like frozen dinners and packaged pasta or rice mixes can also add up when you calculate the cost per serving. Find a few simple, healthy recipes your family enjoys and save
eating out for special occasions.
6. Brown Rice: A healthful side dish for a stir-fry or with meat and vegetables.
7. Vegetable Oil: Whether you are roasting vegetables, scrambling eggs or cooking chicken, vegetable oil is a great option.
8. Low-Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth: For cooking rice or starting a hearty soup.
9. Dried Herbs and Spices: Healthy eating is more fun when food is more flavorful.
10. Canned Fruit: Make smoothies with fruit, milk and ice or add to plain yogurt. Choose fruit canned in its own juices to minimize added sugar.

Tuscan Bean Soup
Add color by using a variety of fresh and canned vegetables.

Tips and Tricks 

  1. Don’t have crushed tomatoes?  Use diced or fresh tomatoes.
  2. Try using different greens in your soup such as cabbage, kale or collard greens.
  3. Don’t have white beans? Try kidney beans, black beans or chickpeas.

Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes


  • 2 Tbl oil
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  •  1 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced thinly
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups combined kale, collard greens and/or cabbage
  • 2 (15 oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary (or other dried herbs)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbl sugar (optional)


  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, let it get hot. Add black pepper and onions to the oil with a small pinch of salt. Cook 10 to 12 minutes or until onions have softened and are starting to brown at edges.
  2. Add the garlic, carrots and celery with the remainder of the salt. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables have softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes, greens, beans, rosemary, sugar (optional) and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  5. Serve with bread.

Makes 10 servings
NOTE: Add bread in the last five minutes of cooking to make your Tuscan Bean Soup into a tasty Ribollita also known as Tuscan Bread Soup. Don’t have dried rosemary? Try replacing with Italian herbs or dried oregano.

Looking to spice it up, add cooked hot Italian sausage or sprinkle red pepper flakes to taste.

Chickpea Coconut Curry
Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, a good alternative to fish or meat.






  • 1 Tbl oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbl curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbl lime juice
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves (optional)


1. Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, curry powder and ginger and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add the coconut milk and chickpeas. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
4. Add the canned tomatoes, lime juice and salt. Simmer for 3 to 4 more minutes.
5. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and fresh cilantro, if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Make your own curry powder by combining 1 tsp ground tumeric, 1 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp ground coriander. Don’t have ground ginger? Try replacing with 2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced.





Cooking with Kids: Whole Wheat Flatbread

Inviting kids into the kitchen is a great way to establish healthy eating habits. Children who eat healthful meals with their families are less likely to be picky eaters and are more likely to eat a more balanced diet. Involve children in meal preparation or when grocery shopping to make mealtime a family affair. Allowing kids to get their hands messy makes meal time even more fun

3/4 cup whole wheat flour or other flour, plus more to shape dough
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold water
1 Tbl oil

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt together.
  2. Add cold water and oil to the flour mixture and stir to form a sticky ball of dough. If mixing with a spoon gets too hard, use your hands — be sure to wash them first.
  3. Split your dough into 4 equally-sized balls. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and your hands — to stop dough from sticking. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten each ball into a circle.
  4. The flatbread is now ready to cook. Place a flat-bottomed pan over medium heat. Place the flattened dough in the pan for 2 minutes.
  5. Flip the bread with a spatula and cook for 2 more minutes. When both sides are toasted. Move the flatbread from the pan. Continue cooking the remaining dough balls, until you have four golden brown flatbreads that are ready to eat.

Other ways to get kids involved in the kitchen

  1. Involve kids in meal preparation:
    Even small hands can help snap off the ends of green beans or shell garden peas. Kids can help rinse vegetables in the sink using a colander.
  2. Check out cook books at the library:
    Flip through some cookbooks and see what sounds appealing to everyone. Expand your child’s food preferences by trying a new recipe.
  3. Set the table:
    Setting out utensils and napkins for each family member is an important part of mealtime. It sets the stage for happy eating and conversation around the table.