Reader’s Request: Pantry Essentials

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a fab morning 😀

I often get asked about all of the crazy ingredients/supplements/superfoods that I throw into my meals, and think it would be a great topic for a Reader’s Request post!

I’m not going to list the usual suspects (sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, etc) but more of the unique things that I *have* to have with me. If we go on vacay, especially for more than a few days, all of these will most likely be in my suitcase.

1. Chia Seeds


What are they? Little seeds –yes, made famous by the chia pet- that gelatinize and are amazing for making raw puddings, adding to smoothies or oatmeal

Benefits: Omega 3’s and 6’s, you don’t need to grind the seeds to digest it (unlike flax), high in protein, increase metabolism by slowing the process by which carbohydrates are converted to simple sugars, high in cancer-protective antioxidants

2. Goji Berries


What are they? Small crunchy berries native to China, which taste almost like strawberries to me (also called the “wolfberry”)

Benefits: An antioxidant POWERHOUSE, they little guys also contain vitamin A and are used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems

3. Maca


What is it? Native to Peru, maca is ground up maca root, which used to be consumed by warriors before battle

Benefits: Maca is an amazing supplement for athletes as it provides energy and is considered to be an adaptogen, which raises the body’s resistance (immune system and ability to recover from exercise). It also assists in the body’s reproductive processes, which is pretty interesting! And it tastes FABULOUS- very earthy malt flavor and great with cacao.

4. Almond Butter

almond butter

aka my nut butter lover

What is it: ground up raw almonds and foodgasms

Benefits: High in magnesium, healthy fats (which lower bad cholesterol) and potassium. It also tastes (to me) WAY better than peanut butter. Once you go almond, you never go back 😉


5. Vitamins


Every day I take a prenatal (don’t get too excited, it’s just for oven preparation if ya know what I mean), probiotic (as I don’t consume much dairy, unless it’s in the form of goat cheese and a B-comple vitamin, which I started taking last week. I started the B-complex as I don’t eat a ton of meat. Vitamins are just “insurance” and it’s always a good idea to get your essential vitamins from food sources.

6. Spirulina


What is it: A blue green algae

Benefits: Spirulina is 65 to 71 percent complete protein, with all essential amino acids in perfect balance. In comparison, beef is only 22 percent protein (source). Contains high concentration of nutrients and is easily absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s wonderful in smoothies or juices.

7. MSM Powder


What is it: Sulfur

Benefits: Makes cell walls more permeable and increases energy. From this website: “ Pantothenic acid, Vitamins A, D, and E, inter-enzymes, amino acids, selenium, calcium, germanium, collagnol and dismuzyme are just some of the things we know the body does not utilize properly unless it has MSM to lock with. A lot of the vitamins we take go through the body without being fully used. With more MSM in the body, vitamins can be utilized more effectively and therefore become much more beneficial.” It can also help with arthritis and PMS.

8. Sun Warrior


My favorite brown rice protein! It’s raw, tastes like heaven and has excellent nutritional stats.

9. Oats


I don’t think these guys need an explanation 😉

10. Tea


I just love tea. All types, but mostly green 🙂

11. Nutritional Yeast


What is it: A supplement popular with vegetarians and vegans- it’s an inactive yeast full of vitamins and minerals

Benefits: It tastes like CHEESE and is a complete protein: 8g per 1.5T serving. Also high in B-complex vitamins


So there ya have it, all of the good stuff 😉

What fun food items do you keep stocked in your casa??

I’m off to pump some iron then mail macaroons out 😀

Have a great day and I’ll see ya before Zumba!



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  1. Katie (Sweet Tater) on January 27, 2010 at 9:32 am

    awesome. i knew nothing about nutritional yeast until i saw you put it on… popcorn, perhaps? totally buying.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

      yes, it was made for popcorn 🙂

  2. Karen Carloni on January 27, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I am wondering if the foods that are dehydrated – like the crackers or macaroons freeze well???


  3. Jessica @ How Sweet on January 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I’m so glad you posted this! I was just about to email you … just ordered some Maca – what kind of things do you suggest for it? The only thing I was thinking were shakes.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

      shakes, oatmeal, on top of toast, sprinkled on fruit… pretty much anything sweet 🙂

  4. Lexi on January 27, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Great super foods stock! I always keep fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in my fridge and freezer as my go to super foods!

  5. Gracie @ Girl Meets Health on January 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I was actually just going to buy some chia seeds today as I’ve yet to try them! What do you suggest is the best way to use them for the first time?

  6. **Lauren (Biochemista)** on January 27, 2010 at 10:01 am

    GREAT post, Gina!! 🙂 🙂

    I’ve tried almost everything you recommend lol so why not try a few more items?! Next on the shopping list: Warrior protein, yeast (btw, where do you find that) and chia seeds?

    I’m already obsessed with spirulina, almond butter, and maca thanks to you. 😉

    Have a FAB zumba class!!! Maaaaaaybe one of these days I’ll try a class myself! 😉



  7. Karyn on January 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

    i’m wayy too poor to have “fun stuff” (as a college kid) but i can’t wait until i can!

  8. Lisa on January 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I definitely need to upgrade my healthy supplies.(I have the chia seeds, flax seeds, multivitamin, and Amazing Grass Superfood; but, I can’t seem to get in the habit of using them regularly.) My pantry necessities are my columbian coffee, agave & honey, Herdez salsa (recommended by you),multigrain crackers, & any kind of red wine!

  9. The Hot and Fit on January 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

    oats, wraps/tortillas, egg white powder, whey isolate

  10. Erica on January 27, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Great list! So many healthy add ins to multiple dishes. I was actually laughing looking at what I packed to bring with me on work travel this week…things I could not be without- a few healthy vegetarian/vegan bars, apples (the lady who inspected my bag at security thought it was odd that I was traveling with so many apples), my water bottle, my HRM, gym clothes & shoes…basically my non work items take up more space than my work items haha.

  11. Lauren @ Eater not a runner on January 27, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Oats and nut butters of all kinds are a must. I really want to try Chia seeds and nutritional yeast!

  12. Sara on January 27, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I must be the only person in the blogosphere yet to try Chia Seeds!

  13. Fitography on January 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I just bought chia seeds last week. I really want to try the Goji berries and maca!

    As far as my fun foods – I love to pick tons of berries in the summer and freeze bags of them to eat during the winter. I buy all of my grains in bulk and store them in reused glass jars. It’s environmentally friendly and looks pretty when I open the cabinet:)

  14. Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle on January 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

    I’ve heard of a lot of these foods/supplements but didn’t exactly know what they all were so… thanks!

  15. Melanie on January 27, 2010 at 10:13 am

    so, a question about Nutritional yeast – do you know if it’s the same thing as “Brewer’s yeast”? I’ve been reading alot about Brewer’s yeast in my books and it seems like it may be the same thing.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

      hey melanie-
      brewer’s yeast is different.. i actually bought some thinking it was nutritional yeast and then found out it wasn’t

  16. Jenna on January 27, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Great post! Thanks for all the info- nutritional yeast is DEFINITELY on my list of things to try.

    <3, Jenna

  17. All Women Stalker on January 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Tea and oatmeal always do the trick for me. I also make sure to keep a stock of mints handy.

  18. Lily @ Lily's Health Pad on January 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Interesting to read about your pantry essentials. I have to disagree though…goji berries don’t taste at all like strawberries to me and maca powder is disgusting!! Any tips for making these things more palatable?

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 10:24 am

      try adding the goji berries to a granola mix in your cereal, or with oats. maca is amazing with chocolate- try blending it up in a chocolate protein shake (adding a t of maca- not too much)

  19. Kelly on January 27, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I’m reading more about Spirulina now as I write this! I love the idea of adding healthy things to my diet…sometimes I feel like it’s overwhelming the number of products there are and how to choose exactly what I need!

    About the chia seeds….is there equal proportions of omega 3’s to omega 6’s? Do you know how much of each/how that works? I read a book awhile ago and one thing I remember was that most people were lacking in omega 3’s and have too much omega 6 so it’d be interesting to find out. Maybe I remember it wrong though!

    Thanks for posting this!

  20. Mary on January 27, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I’m curious if you ever read any of the arguments against the ‘superness’ of super foods. Or give credence to the Mayo Clinic’s list of 10 super foods.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:10 am

      yes, i’ve read them but tend to consume foods that have the highest values on the orac scale- higher antioxidants. of course there are mixed reviews about many foods, which is why moderation are variety are important. the mayo clinic’s list is awesome, and even though these are healthy foods -most of which i eat every day- they’re not “super” foods because of their orac scale value. spirulina, goji, maca and cacao are superfoods and healthy for ya, too 🙂

  21. Adrien on January 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I’m an almond butter girl too, yogi teas, whole grain flours, oats, quinoa, and dark chocolate kind of girl..

    I then have a vitamin army I take, but that would take an essay.. hahah have a good day!

  22. Shannon on January 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Excited about trying the chia seeds – and because of you my friend Almond Butter is my new favorite pantry item (I cannot imagine a day without it)! I’m addicted- LOL!!! Thanks for all the info! 🙂

  23. Heather (Heather's Dish) on January 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

    i’m so glad you showed us these and gave explanations! i’ve been wondering about the vitamins and protein you use forever now…guess that’ll teach me ask, right? 🙂

  24. Laura J. @ Health & Hotness on January 27, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve always wondered about some of your staples and what benefits that have. Do you find most of these at the health food store or can you get any from your average grocery store?

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

      most of them have to be purchased in a health store or online

  25. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg on January 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Great post!! Many of these are a staple in my pantry as well. I need to get my hands on some maca– I keep hearing such wonderful things about it!

  26. Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather on January 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I loved the explanation along each itam. I’ve always got brazil nut butter (and almond of coures!) in my fridge. It’s got a difference taste than any other nut butter I’ve tried.

  27. Paige (Running Around Normal) on January 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I can’t wait to try Maca! They have it at my local health food store but it’s so expensive. I’ll need to get it when I have a light grocery shopping week.
    I actually just tried spirulina in some juice I made today because of you. Blended pretty well in there!

  28. Tara on January 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I wanted to try the almond butter, too, but it was like almost $20 at my grocery store. So, I bought some Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter ($2). The ingredients were only nuts, and <1% salt.
    Would you say this is a good enough alternative?

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

      yes that’s totally fine- the difference between peanuts and almonds is that peanuts are actually a legume (like a bean) instead of an actual nut. almonds have more healthy fat and antioxidant powers… but yes, it’s very expensive. do you have a trader joe’s near you? their almond butter is 4.99 a jar- amazing! if not, maybe you can find some less pricey almond butter online if you’d like to try it.. or make it at home, too!

      • Tara on January 27, 2010 at 11:24 am

        Haha, I tried to make it at home. It almost burnt up my little food processor. It never got to a buttery texture.
        I’ll try looking online from now on 🙂

        • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

          LOL. that happened to me too! some people have success with it though :/
          happy online shopping!

  29. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) on January 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

    This post looks like a recipe for an awesome smoothie! 😀 Well, maybe minus the nooch…

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

      LOL, yes, that would be disgusting

  30. Jen on January 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

    What a great list and summary! Totally helpful! I just made my list for Whole Foods…

    I’d add Hemp milk to your list – it’s delicious and great for cookie-making.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

      i love hemp milk, too! almond milk is also amazing 😀

  31. Kelly Michelle on January 27, 2010 at 11:12 am

    mail some of those macaroons this way 🙂

  32. Theorist on January 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Great post! I have been meaning to ask about some of these items…
    off to do my Fitnessista weight training! YAY!

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

      whoo hoo! have fun! 😀

  33. Jess - The Domestic Vegan on January 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Your pantry essentials look pretty much EXACTLY like mine! I take different vitamins, but even right down to the chia seed brand, we’re very similar. 😉

    I also usually have some raw flax chips from my dehydrator, too!

  34. Mara @ What's For Dinner? on January 27, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I’ve gotta get me on some vitamins… do you have any suggestions for taking them so they don’t make me want to hurl?

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 11:44 am

      hmmm taking them before bed is supposed to work. maybe have a small snack (like yogurt or some fruit), the vitamin, then go to bed?

  35. Ann K on January 27, 2010 at 11:39 am


    I did started week two of the intermediate iron pump program and it’s amazing. I’ve been a regular at the gym for years and these new workouts every week are the best for the “good sore” feeling! Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

  36. Gabriela on January 27, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for all the info! I’ve tried a lot of these knowing they were good for me but without knowing why, and I’m glad I finally understand it all! Nut butters and oats are two of my staples, too 🙂

  37. Danielle (Coffee Run) on January 27, 2010 at 11:53 am

    We keep a lot of the same things in our pantry 😀
    I keep hearing different things on the taste of Maca. But if you say it tastes good, then I believe it!

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      it’s a different taste, but i love it 🙂

  38. Brooke on January 27, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I love seeing all of your staples. I have many of them and use them on a daily bases but I need to try the berries. Thanks for such a great blog, it is one of the ones I read every day.

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      that’s awesome!
      thank YOU for reading my little blog 😀

  39. Haleigh on January 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I’ve always been curious about Maca.

  40. Ashley on January 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hey Gina, I wanted to let you know because of your workout it hurts to lift my arms today…so…thank you 🙂 Keep the booty kicking wkouts coming!

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      haha! sorry you’re sore!! ok, not really 😉
      i’m happy you had a good workout! xoxo

  41. Jenna on January 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing!!

  42. Jessica @ The Process of Healing on January 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Oats + almond butter are the best things ever invented…yep. If i’m going on a trip, I always bring some instant oats (better than many options you may be left with), apples/other more durable fruits, and plenty of bars. Also some Barney Butter packets if I happen to have them around.

  43. Cheryl on January 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I love the almond butter. Also am loving the breakfast cookie every day. I started mixing in flax seed powder in things the last month or so. I was wondering I love the list above, thank you for sharing. Can I put flax seed powder and chia seeds in to my breakfast cookie at the same time? Thanks

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      yeah, i don’t see why not 😀 sounds wonderful! i’m so glad you like the bfast cookie

  44. Ashley on January 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I ADORE almond butter, I’m lucky I live near a trader joes as I have to have my fix daily. I need to try those chia seeds though, would i be able to find them at whole foods? Also, for me, Kombucha and greek yogurt are part of my must haves. Ironically, I hated both of them the first time I tried them, but now can’t live without them which i’m sure my body is happy about. My bank account, maybe not so much lol.

  45. Kalli@fitandfortysomething on January 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Amazing Grass and Bovine Colostrum!

  46. Kaylee on January 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Hey Gina, I just wanted to say that I love your blog all the way across the ocean in England! My cupboard looks very similar to yours, although I am wishing we had Trader Joes in the UK – raw almond butter is 14.99 pounds here (pounds!). It hurts the bank account but is worth it, haha.

  47. thedelishdish on January 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    thanks for all the info, especially the supplement info! im eating much less meat these days so have been thinking of taking something. also now thinking of adding spirulina to my morning smoothies!

  48. Betsy on January 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Great info! I just wanted to point out for all the omnivores out there that the spirulina complete protein source doesn’t have any scientific information attached to it. I’m not saying it isn’t a source of complete protein, I’m just saying defining something as a percentage of complete protein and another as less may not be that accurate since a whole food containing all essential amino acids would indeed be considered a “complete protein”.
    “Complete proteins are found in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products such as yogurt and cheese. Soybeans are the only plant protein considered to be a complete protein.”
    And on wikipedia (although not THE source to end all sources):
    “-Complete proteins, also known as high quality proteins, “contain all the essential amino acids in amounts adequate for human use; it may or may not contain all the others. Generally proteins derived from animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, yogurt, and milk) are complete, though gelatin is an exception. Proteins derived from plant foods (legumes, grains, and vegetables) tend to be limited in essential amino acids. Some are notably low, such as corn protein.
    -Some foods contain all the essential amino acids on their own in a sufficient amount to qualify as a “complete protein”. Complete protein foods that also obtain the highest possible PDCAAS score of 1.0 are certain dairy products, egg whites, and soy protein isolate. Other foods, such as amaranth, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, buckwheat, hempseed, meat, poultry, soybeans, quinoa, seafood, and spirulina also are complete protein foods, but may not obtain a PDCAAS score of 1.0.”
    (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is spirulina, so it is a great source.)

  49. Renata on January 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I am a newcomer to your website but I have to admit I have become addicted! I’m a nutritionist/ former trainer in Alberta, Canada and it’s wonderful to find a site with so many of my common ideas and interests!! More than that, you have given so many new ideas and your site is super motivational. It was hard losing my baby weight after my little guys was born (was not able to breastfeed) but you have motivated me so much to implement new (and old) ideas. Everyday I read the new post, get on my treadmill (it’s -30 degrees celsius so outside is not an option) and am slowly implementing raw food ideas into my diet. AMAZING ENERGY because of it. I just want to say thank you. You can tell you love what you do because you are so diligent with your communication/posts with the public. Thanks again and keep it coming!!!

    • Fitnessista on January 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      thank you so much, renata!

  50. Jamie on January 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Hi! I LOVE this blog. It has some of the best info and you’re awesome. My reader request is what to wear when you’re going to the gym and then going out for the rest of the day or vice versa. THANKS!!

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