While this is definitely not an exhaustive list, these are some of my favourite foods to keep stocked in my kitchen for making easy and healthy meals and snacks. A big part of setting yourself up for success with healthy eating is having the right ingredients on hand. Clean out that fridge and pantry, ditch the junk, and stock up on healthy foods (like the ones below) – your waistline will thank you and you’ll have more energy to enjoy your fabulous life.
Beans: Beans such as chickpeas and black beans are inexpensive and great staples to keep in your pantry. They’re a great source of plant-powered protein and fibre and low in fat. Including beans in your diet is a great way to help reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Add them to salads, salsas, or stir-fries – just make sure you wash them before you cook them.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has a myriad of benefits. The malic acid in vinegar can help to settle an upset stomach, and its anti-inflammatory properties may help with joint pain. The high levels of potassium in apple cider vinegar also aid in detox, and may help clear up sinus infections and colds. Use in salad dressings or mix a couple tablespoons with water, apple juice, and a dash of cayenne pepper for a metabolism revving drink.
Dark Green and Orange Vegetables: Getting more of any vegetables into your daily diet is super important, but aiming for one dark green and one dark orange vegetable per day will help you capitalize on their amazing nutrient offerings. Dark green vegetables are packed with folate, a micronutrient that is especially important for women of childbearing age. Examples include kale, broccoli, asparagus, and spinach. Dark orange vegetables provide carotenoids like beta-carotene, which your body can convert into Vitamin A. Examples include carrots and sweet potatoes.
Quinoa: Your new best friend for quick, healthy dinners. You can cook up a cup of quinoa in 15 minutes flat! Throw it in a bowl with grilled chicken and roasted veggies, top with some lemon juice and fresh herbs, and you have a “health bowl” ready to eat in no time.
Nonfat Greek Yogurt: It’s deliciously creamy and indulgent, and yet one serving is only 100 Calories of protein-packed goodness. Use Greek Yogurt as a healthier substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise in recipes, or top with your favourite granola and berries for a well-balanced meal.
A fully stocked fruit bowl: Keep a full fruit bowl in the center of your counter for a quick and easy snack option. The more visible it is, the more likely you’ll be to grab fruit instead of other less healthy foods that could be lurking in your pantry. Apples, bananas, and oranges can be year round staples due to their wide availability, and you can add some other seasonal fruits too for variety. Bonus: it’s a great way to add some colour to your kitchen décor!
Extra virgin olive oil: According to research, replacing other oils with extra virgin olive oil may improve heart health and have immunological benefits. The purest form of olive oil (extra virgin means the oil is pressed directly from the olives and must pass strict laboratory tests), use it in cooking and dressings to take advantage of this good-for-you source of fat.
Eggs: An amazing and versatile food, one egg contains 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories. An excellent breakfast choice for weight loss, eggs will keep you fueled and full throughout the morning. They also work great as a snack – hard boil eggs at the beginning of the week and grab them as needed for a snack with some fruit and cheese.
Garlic: Because keeping the vampires away is important. But in all seriousness, garlic adds major flavour to any variety of dishes without any processed ingredients or extra fat. Studies have also shown that garlic may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, strengthening your immune system and helping to fight off diseases.
Oats: What I consider the champion of breakfast foods, oats have mega staying power. Oats are a low GI source of carbohydrates, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar – your body digests oats more slowly for sustained energy. Combined with their high fiber content, oatmeal is a part of a powerhouse breakfast. You can also use oats in smoothies and as a baking substitution for heavier desserts (try an oatmeal apple crumble next time instead of an apple pie).