Ga-ood Morning to you! How’s the Thursday morning air treating you? It’s even better when there is a hint of Friday tucked in there. Maybe if I take some deep breaths it will make Friday come faster. What do you think?
Now I’ve hacked your way into a healthy kitchen with my 12 Kitchen Hacks for a Healthy Diet but what about the food that is actually IN your kitchen? There are so many products, health claims, and diets out there that anyone can get confused on what they should even be eating. Coconut oil? Gluten-Free? Goji Berries? Fat is good for you. Fat is bad for you…the list goes on and on……and ON about what the new fad or health miracle there is that make me take a deep breath and say, “this is why I have a job as a dietitian..”
Before you drive yourself crazy take a step back and go the simple route. If you load your kitchen with good healthy food, eating a healthy diet is a no brainer. Here are the 10 must haves for a healthy diet that I always make sure to keep on hand and ready for the next crazy delicious recipe I can think of.
Oh, oats. I think I could really eat these at every single meal. Oats are full of fiber and protein that keep you going longer than a bagel or donut. They are also so versatile which makes it easy for me to use them at every meal. You can see my whole list of it’s fabulous uses here! The flavors you can whip up are endless, either hot or cold, and are one of the most inexpensive buys out there. One of my favorite oatmeal recipes is for Strawberry Rhubarb Overnight Oats. Because I really wish I was looking at white sandy beaches instead of muddy snowbanks right now.
What?! Eggs? I thought they were loaded with fat and cholesterol?! Well you heard that right, they do contain fat and cholesterol but that doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. The yolks are full of healthy vitamins and minerals in addition to protein that pack more nutrition than harm. They make for a quick and easy breakfast or a portable snack if you hard boil them. Plus, you wouldn’t be able to make my favorite 2 Ingredient Pancakes from Tina!
Gah-lic. Unless you are related to half the cast of Twilight, garlic should be a part of your diet. Not only does it pack a punch of flavor to any dinner, the nutritional benefits are almost endless. Lowers blood pressure, protects against cancer, loaded with antioxidants, and if you eat enough of it you can even keep crazy ex-boyfriends at bay.
You may think that you need to only buy fresh vegetables in order to have a healthy diet, but don’t be fooled. Frozen and even canned vegetables are staples for a healthy diet in addition to fresh veggies. When fresh vegetables are not in season it is better to buy the frozen variety since they are picked at the peak of ripeness unlike the fresh variety which are picked early and shipped across the country to ripen on a truck.
One of my favorite ones to buy is frozen spinach. Since fresh spinach cooks down to almost nothing it is much more inexpensive to buy a package of the frozen variety for recipes like soups, casseroles, and even quiche. I use it in my of my favorite soup recipes for African Peanut Stew.
One of the most common questions I get after telling someone I’m a vegetarian is “where do you get your protein?!” While I do still eat fish and seafood on occasion, a lot of my go to protein sources are beans. They are quick and easy to use for adding to salads, making chili, or quite possibly the easiest bean burgers known to (vegeteri)man. 1 can of beans + 3 tbsp flour + seasoning. Mash, patty, and cook in a skillet. DONE.
Just remember to reach for the low-sodium variety or rinse them before using.
Probably more beloved than canned beans are lentils. I believe these little gems are the holy grail of health foods. Packed with protein, fiber, iron, and many other nutrients they leave no room to be full of junk. A 1 lb bag costs me only 99 cents, a fraction of the cost of a lb of chicken or beef. Unlike beans, dried lentils don’t have to be soaked before cooking and only take about 20-25 minutes. Try some BBQ Lentil Bites for your next Meatless Monday!
Now you knew this was gunna be on the list. Besides being all around delicious, peanut butter is another staple in the health realm. A good source of protein, vitamins, and antioxidants peanut butter is a go to for snacks such as apple slices or my beloved carrots sticks. Stick to the all natural variety without added oils or sugars for the best nutrition. Then bake up a batch of Maple Walnut breakfast cookies!
You’re the boss applesauce. While I eat at least one apple every day in the raw form, my pantry is always stocked with unsweetened applesauce. It is a great replacement for butter or oil in baking to cut back the amount of fat and calories in a dish. Try starting with replacing half of the butter or oil in a recipe with applesauce and adjust to your taste. It works best with bread type recipes such as muffins or quick breads as opposed to cookies.
Now I probably put cinnamon as many things as I do peanut butter. Not only does it add flavor without any added salt or sugar, but also has many health benefits associated with it such as lowering blood pressure and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Since it is used in a lot of sweet recipes, adding cinnamon can help lower the amount of sugar to use. Try reducing the amount of sugar in your next recipe and adding some extra cinnamon instead. And then send me some samples to show your gratitude.
While coconut oil is all the rave right now, studies are still inconclusive to all of it’s health benefits. What is proven is that olive oil is a heart healthy source of monounsaturated fats or the “good” fats in the diet. Swap out cooking with butter for olive oil for an easy way to make a healthier meal. My favorite is to roast veggies by tossing with olive oil, garlic, and pepper then baking in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until browned. Kabocha squash anyone? With peanut butter of course!
So there you have it. My 10 kitchen staples to make healthy eating as simple as opening a can of beans or a jar of pb. All of these items are inexpensive, and far cheaper than the latest diet pill or miracle food out on the market. Load your shelves with these foods and you’re on your way to eating and feeling awesome!
Make it a great day!
What are some of the kitchen staples in your house?
What’s your favorite way to use oats?