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How to Put Neglected Pantry Items to Good Use

With more people cooking at home, many have struggled to prepare certain pantry staples. Meatless Monday surveyed social media followers to see which pantry items they had on hand that they didn’t know how to cook. The top three vote-getters were: canned kidney beans, canned corn, and quinoa, which beat out other options such as oatmeal, potatoes, and tomato sauce.

The survey, conducted across Meatless Monday’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook social media channels, garnered nearly 500 responses. On Instagram, more than 80% of Meatless Monday followers are female, with 36% aged 25 to 34. On Facebook, of the followers reached, demographics are similar: Almost 80% are female, and 24% are between 25 and 34. Twitter doesn’t provide demographics.

With a few tips and easy recipes, the three most overlooked ingredients can be used to make delicious and healthful meals. In the following paragraphs, RDs, chefs, and other influencers share their favorite ways to prepare and incorporate these nutrient-dense staples.

From Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, nutrition and healthy lifestyle expert for NBC’s TODAY show and best-selling author of Joy Bauer’s Superfood! 150 Recipes for Eternal Youth.

Bauer rescues kidney beans and gives them a starring role in this Hearty Vegetable Bean Soup, brimming with flavor and nutrients in just one serving.

Serve her JOY-Full Corn Bread as a savory side. 

DJ Blatner, RDN, CSSD, author of The Flexitarian Diet, ranked a top plant-based diet by U.S. News & World Report, and her latest effort, The Superfood Swap

Blatner spotlights the versatility of quinoa in a recipe for Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies. These cookies are loaded with whole grains, plant protein, and healthful fat—no white sugar or white flour. 

For canned kidney beans, individuals can make Bean Balls 5 Ways: Blatner’s plant-based version of meatballs. 

Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, award-winning nutritionist, author, journalist, and TV personality, is the author of The Beauty Diet and Strong, Slim, and 30!

Drayer liberates quinoa from the pantry and gives it prominence in Cherry Mint Quinoa Salad. Dressed with a limeade-inspired dressing with chopped sweet cherries, quinoa shines with flavor in this refreshing dish.

Karla Dumas, RD, is director of food and nutrition for Food Forward, a branch of The Humane Society of the United States, which has partnered with more than 600 institutional dining operations to cultivate a more sustainable food system by increasing plant-based menu options.

Dumas, along with her team of dietitians, chefs, and specialists, shares her tips and tricks to save quinoa, kidney beans, and corn from pantry oblivion. For example, individuals can combine all three in Super Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili or go festive with a Fiesta Rice & Beans Bowl with kidney beans, corn, quinoa, shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, taco seasoning on the beans and corn, salsa, and tortilla chips crumbled on top. Turn any of these into tacos, burritos, etc. Simply smash the kidney beans to make refried beans for a different texture.

Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, aka the Plant-Powered Dietitian, is author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Plant-Powered for Life. She recently completed her Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems.

Palmer rescues the forgotten pantry ingredients by providing easy steps for use as well as tasty recipes. For canned corn: If your recipe calls for frozen corn, just swap it out for canned, drained corn. It’s delicious in soups, stews, chowders, casseroles, and salads, plus it’s so satisfying.  

Try these recipes: Burrito with Refried Beans and Corn and Easy Vegan Tacos with Refried Beans and Corn Salsa.

Chef Adam Kenworthy, known as an endurance athlete, private chef, and former boyfriend of Real Housewives of New York City’s Carole Radziwill, offers simple tips for the quinoa sitting in the pantry.

For quinoa, cook a big batch plain. Add cucumber; thinly sliced celery; avocado; cilantro, basil, or shiso; salt; and olive oil. Eat by itself or add into a salad for extra protein.

Chef Robert Graham, MD, is a Harvard-educated physician and professionally trained chef who provides a simple way to improve the taste of quinoa in any dish: Rinse the grain before use to remove its bitter-tasting saponins. He also recommends toasting it first in a dry skillet before cooking it for a nuttier, more complex flavor.

Chef Makenna Hale of Lovejoy Bakers offers simple recipes using these often-neglected ingredients.

Recipes include Slow Cooker Chili (featuring kidney beans and canned corn), Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Southwest Quinoa Salad (also featuring canned corn).

— Source: Meatless Monday