The Pantry of a 225-Pound Weight-Loss Editor: The Good, the Sinful, and the Embarrassing!


By Shaun Chavis
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For the next few weeks, I thought I'd share what's in my kitchen and what I eat. I'm definitely not a model for anyone to imitate—just because I'm a weight-loss editor doesn't mean I'm immune to junk food cravings. Most days I keep things fairly balanced, but I certainly have room for improvement. I try to cook from scratch most nights, but if I'm at the office until 8 o'clock, I'm likely to succumb to the hot bar at Whole Foods.

shaun-chavis-shelf-pantry-200.jpg shaun-chavis-shelf-pantry-200.jpg (which is less than 10 minutes from where I live), a big bar of baking chocolate, some basil I got from my closest farmers' market, and a bar of Santander for evening snacking. I break off two squares a night, about 87 calories worth of dessert.

Add this to your grocery list: Fresh herbs. They make dishes taste delicious, and you can buy them cheaply at local markets.

shaun-chavis-sidea-150.jpg shaun-chavis-sidea-150.jpg made by a former Cooking Light test-kitchen professional, fig vinegar, and a bottle of Absolut with 10 vanilla beans soaking in it. (Homemade vanilla extract!)

Third shelf: Staples. Veggie broth, beans, chickpeas, cans of tuna (which are great for dinner in a pinch), whole-grain corn meal, and quick polenta.

Bottom shelf: A bag of locally produced corn meal, brown sugar, farro, and several types of rice—basmati, Arborio, and Spanish for paella.

Add this to your grocery list: Pumpkin seed oil and pistachio oil. As you can see, I love using oil and vinegars to flavor my food in a healthy way. These two oils add a delicious and strong, nutty flavor that are great for salad dressings or sprinkled over steamed veggies.

shaun-chavis-sideb-150.jpg shaun-chavis-sideb-150.jpg that I scraped a vanilla bean into. (It's vanilla-flavored fleur de sel, and it's awesome on fresh pineapple, watermelon, scallops and other seafood, and roasted potatoes. I hear it's good on popcorn and ice cream too, but I haven't tried it yet.)

Next shelf: Maple syrup (which I use to make granola or drizzle on sweet potatoes), turbinado sugar that I use for baking, more vinegars, and a little pack of Justin's nut butter.

Third shelf: Pecans, pastas, sundried tomatoes, black beans, amaranth, millet, pine nuts, lentils.

Bottom shelf: Sushi rice, oatmeal, homemade vanilla sugar, two different types of brown sugar, and a bag of barley.

Add this to your grocery list: Amaranth and millet. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 was to eat more whole grains, and these two are full of fiber and protein.

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Top pantry: Several cans of beans, including cannellini, and three cans of sardines.

Add this to your grocery list: Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, inexpensive, and delicious in pasta, on potatoes, or for bruschetta.

Now to the not-so-virtuous part. The bottom shelf is my guilty pleasure come to fruition. Besides a few types of tea and a box of soba noodles, the rest of this shelf, no kidding, is full of cocoa and hot chocolate.

This is how bad my chocolate obsession is! It's sinful, I know, but it's the hardest diet vice to give up. Left to right, two cans of Schokinag hot chocolate, a little can of spiced hot chocolate I picked up in Montreal a while ago, and three huge cans of MarieBelle hot chocolate, each in a different flavor. The white bag on top of the Schokinag is a MarieBelle refill! Then there are cacao nibs, three cans of Scharffen Berger cocoa powder, and a can of Ghirardelli cocoa powder. All I can say is, I drink less hot chocolate now than when I lived in Boston. After all, there are few good hot-chocolate nights in Alabama.

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This is just a brief look into what's in my kitchen. Next week, I'll be posting exactly what I eat, including my caloric and nutritional goals. In the meantime, if you have any pantry must-haves that I missed, let me know. I'm always looking for new products.