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Healthy pantry must-haves

Could your pantry use a makeover? Use these six ingredients to infuse recipes with flavor – healthfully.

Sambal Oelek. Quite possibly one of my favorite ingredients of all time, this blend of freshly ground chilies, salt and vinegar adds a flavorful heat to sauces, stir-fries and marinades. Mix with mayo, nonfat Greek yogurt and lemon juice for a sauce that tastes good on just about anything.

Extra-virgin olive oil. Invest in a good bottle of extra-virgin olive oil and reserve it for raw uses: salad dressings, drizzling over cooked fish and pasta, or (my favorite) dipping bread. Give your dishes a boost of flavor, antioxidants and healthy fats.

Whole-wheat panko. This style of breadcrumbs creates a super-crunchy crust that tastes as good as fried foods without all the grease. The whole-wheat version has a nuttier flavor and four times more fiber. Use for vegetables, turkey burgers or any recipe that calls for panko.

Rolled oats. You can’t go wrong with a bowl of this breakfast staple. But you can also turn to this fiber-filled whole grain to make homemade bars and granola.

Raw nuts. A pantry stocked with nuts such as almonds, cashews and pistachios is teeming with fiber, minerals and heart-healthy goodness. Choose raw nuts to avoid added oils, sodium and sugar. Lightly toast in the oven or a dry pan on the stove to bring out the natural oils.

Apple-cider vinegar. Summer foods like barbecue sauce and coleslaw just wouldn’t be the same without this ingredient. Its subtle sweetness and mild acidity impart big flavor.

– Food Network Kitchens

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