Top 10 storecupboard superfoods | BBC Good Food

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Looking to give your health a boost? We’ve picked 10 storecupboard ingredients which are bursting with nutrients, so you can easily make delicious, nourishing meals anytime.

Keep your kitchen stocked with the canned and dried foods, fragrant spices and preserved ingredients below to make eating well easy. We’ve even given you recipe suggestions for every ingredient, to help you feel inspired.

Discover more about how to eat well in our healthy eating section. Add some new ingredients to your storecupboard with these six power powders, packed full of nutrients, ready for sprinkling into juices and smoothies.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is known to have soothing properties, which may help with stomach upsets, as well as boosting collagen production in both the skin and joints. Interestingly, a grind of black pepper is known to dramatically improve the absorption of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric. Packed with health benefits, this golden spice is delicious added to scrambled eggs, curry and rice dishes – you can even try adding it to pancakes and lattes.

If you’d like to find out more, read our helpful turmeric guide. And try our top turmeric recipes.

2. Lentils

Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal

Canned, dried or in ready-to-eat pouches, all types of lentil are a fabulous source of iron and protein – which is especially valuable if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Lentils are rich in folate and a complex carbohydrate, so they’ll raise and maintain your energy levels steadily, instead of causing them to spike.

You can use lentils as a filling base for salads, to make hearty vegan dal and in other nourishing dishes, like our popular spiced carrot and lentil soup. To find out more about what makes the humble lentil so good for you, read our nutritionist’s guide. And browse our collection of hearty lentil recipes.

3. Chickpeas

Chickpea, tomato and spinach curry in a silver pan

Rich in plant hormones called isoflavones, chickpeas exert an oestrogen-like effect on the skin – boosting collagen production, skin thickness and elasticity. Use them to make your own hummus or add to salads, soups, curries and tagines. If you’re veggie, try using them to make a delicious healthy alternative to burgers.

Want more chickpea recipes? Try our Greek chickpea salad, easy falafel burgers and aubergine and chickpea curry.

4. Coconut milk

Coconut & banana pancakes with passionfruit on a blue plate

Coconut milk contains more valuable minerals – such as potassium, magnesium and iron – than cow’s milk. It’s lactose-free, making it a great option for those with an intolerance. And it’s thought to have antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, which help to protect the body from disease.

Although considerably high in saturated fat, this comes in a form called medium-chain triglycerides, which our bodies process quicker, so they’re less likely to be stored as fat.

You can use coconut milk in everything from pancakes and porridge bowls, to veggie curries and hearty soups. To read more on the benefits, have a look at our guide.

5. Saffron

Crab & saffron risotto in a casserole dish and bowl

Bursting with protective antioxidants, saffron strands can help to protect your cells against free radicals, fight age-related vision loss and may prevent the hardening of the arteries. It’s also thought that saffron could help to reduce appetite, therefore aiding weight loss, and improve your mood. For this reason, and the gorgeous golden hue it brings to dishes, saffron is often called the sunshine spice.

Add saffron’s floral flavour to risotto, pilaf or a sweet treat – a pinch is all you need!

6. Cinnamon

Overnight oats in a glass jar topped with fruit and honey

This wholesome spice is thought to have many medicinal and soothing properties, and is known to support healthy blood sugar levels by entering the bloodstream and mimicking insulin.

The distinctive taste and smell of cinnamon can be found in many healthy dishes, such as our overnight oats, healthy vegan flapjacks and baked banana porridge. For more inspiration, check out our collection of spiced cinnamon recipes. And to find out the top 5 health benefits of cinnamon read our guide.

7. Tinned tomatoes

Saucy bean baked eggs with sliced of ham in a frying pan

You might be surprised to hear that tinned tomatoes are somewhat of a superfood. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant known to support skin and heart health, and vitamin K, which contributes to healthy bones. Unlike other foods, which lose valuable macronutrients in the heating process, they’re actually more nutritious when eaten heated.

Reap the benefits, and use tinned tomatoes to make our saucy baked bean eggs, meatball and black bean chilli or tomato and basil soup.

8. Olive oil

Chicken breast with avocado salad on a white plate

There’s been plenty of research highlighting the benefits of olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil. This healthy fat, commonly used in the Mediterranean diet, is known to reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s also been noted that older populations who consume olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet have improved cognitive function, with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. You can read more about the benefits in our nutritionist’s guide.

Make healthy choices, buy extra virgin olive oil when possible, and always buy in a glass bottle.

Use olive oil in everything from our healthy chicken with avocado salad to blood orange and olive oil bundt cake. For more ideas, browse our healthy Mediterranean recipes.

9. Rice

Chicken with rice & peas

To up your nutrients, look further than the bag of rice in your cupboard. Choose a brown variety to benefit from the vitamin and mineral-rich outer layers, the bran and germ, which are removed to make white rice. Brown rice is packed with protein and fibre, which means it’s converted to energy more steadily in the body, instead of causing blood sugar levels to spike. It also contains compounds called flavonoids, which are known to protect the body from diseases.

White rice, on the other hand, has been stripped of the nutritious bran layer. This means it’s not as fibre-rich as brown rice but can be broken down quickly in the body and converted to energy. For this reason, many athletes choose to refuel with white rice after exercise. To find out what makes rice a healthy choice, read our guide.

When combined with beans, rice provides a complete plant-based protein source. Try it yourself with our healthy chicken and rice recipe. Be sure to browse our healthy rice bowls, veggie rice recipes and brown rice recipes.

10. Berries

Healthy frozen berry yogurt

When stored in the freezer, berries can keep for a long time – similar to storecupboard foods – and they’re almost like-for-like when compared with the nutritional benefits of fresh. The freezing process locks in all the goodness, allowing you to access nutrients like vitamin C during the winter months. Discover the top 5 benefits of frozen fruit and veg.

Blitz berries with low-fat yogurt to make a healthier alternative to ice cream, combine with oats, banana and seeds to make this nourishing overnight bircher, and whizz together to make a thrifty berry smoothie. Browse our best frozen berry recipes for more ideas.

Hungry for more? Try these:

10 freezer essentials and recipe ideas
Budget healthy recipes
Healthy storecupboard recipes
Top 10 anti-inflammatory foods
Top 10 vegetarian storecupboard recipes

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