A great way to stay healthy is to always have fresh, whole foods at home. It helps to mitigate those craving-induced trips to the coffee shop or nearest fast-food joint. Meal planning is an ideal way to stay on track, but isn’t always feasible. For days when I haven’t planned ahead, I feel good knowing that I can whip something up by always having the following foods in my kitchen.
I suppose this is exactly what you’d expect to see on a Top 10 list like this. Yes, spinach is indeed one of my favourite foods, especially because it’s so versatile. It’s a great source of magnesium, manganese, iron, folate, and vitamins A and K. I put it in my scrambled eggs almost every morning, as well as salads, smoothies, or as a bed of greens for my salmon.
Speaking of scrambled eggs, this is a food you will always see in my fridge. It’s my go-to breakfast food! For years, eggs got a bad rap for being too full of cholesterol, but they’ve been exonerated in recent years. They contain all B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12) and are a great source of healthy fat and protein. Chickens fed flaxseed in their diet also produce eggs with omega 3 fatty acids in them. For the cost of a grande Starbucks latte, you can buy good quality eggs to last you all week! Besides breakfast, you can use them in quiches, baking, and as a hardboiled snack (I put a bit of mustard on mine).
Quinoa is a protein packed grain (technically a seed) that hails from the high Andes of South America. I personally don’t eat a lot of grains, but I keep this one on hand as a quick and easy alternative to rice, pasta, and other grains. It packs a whopping 24g of protein per cup, and is a great source of dietary fibre, potassium, and magnesium. It can be used in salads, soups, or just as a side dish to your favourite entree.
4. Coconut Oil
Ah, coconut oil. My go-to for almost everything. I use coconut oil for cooking, baking, in smoothies, on pancakes, and on my skin! Yes, a have a small bowl of coconut oil sitting on the bathroom counter, and I use it as moisturizer before bed each night. It takes a few minutes to absorb and I may smell like a coconut, but it’s all worth it!
Coconuts have been consumed in tropical climates for thousands of years, and in populations that tended to be healthy and live long lives. Its uses are endless, and you can read more about its benefits and uses here.
I love having lemons around, because they’re a great way to spice things up. I add them to my warm water in the mornings and cold water in the afternoons. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C, which is key in a healthy immune system. Combine them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you’ve got the easiest homemade salad dressing around. They also pair well with avocado and smoked salmon.
6. Olive Oil
I can’t live without olive oil. Another healthy fat that is rich in vitamins E and K, olive oil is a staple around the mediterranean. It’s best used fresh on salads, avocado, and combined with a bit of balsamic vinegar for the perfect caprese salad. There is some controversy regarding cooking with olive oil, as it has a lower smoke point than other oils (the temperature at which the fat begins to break down). However, at 207C (405F), you should be fine as long as you’re not frying with it (which I wouldn’t recommend anyway!).
Bananas are a great potassium-packed snack to keep on hand. They’re also a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. I love to grab one if I’m running out the door in the morning and need something to tide me over until breakfast. My husband’s favourite way of eating them is smothered in delicious almond butter, which we usually have on hand as well. That being said, he has been known to concoct some pretty amazing banana splits for us as well! Using vegan coconut milk ice cream, of course. ;)
8. Canned fish
This is a great source of protein to have on hand if you’re in a pinch and need something quick. Both salmon and tuna are packed with B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. Tuna (especially albacore) can contain quite a bit of mercury, so I wouldn’t recommend eating it more than once a week. Look for the smaller skipjack variety to stay on the safe side. I usually add one can of fish to a bed of spinach, then add half an avocado, olive oil, lemon, and a bit of salt and pepper. Voila! Lunch is served.
All hail the avocado! In the wellness world, the avocado is one of the most popular foods, and with good reason. Both vegans and paleo lovers rave about it, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are avocados filled with heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), but they also contain more potassium than bananas, and are a great source of vitamin K and folate. The MUFAs also help us to absorb fat soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K, which can’t be absorbed without fat. This is an amazing food to add to your diet if you want radiant, healthy looking skin. Eat it as guacamole, in salads, or on toast!
10. Dark Chocolate
If you read my blog, you know that I advocate a healthy, balanced lifestyle. And that means having my favourite kind of chocolate on hand! I usually buy an organic brand that is at least 70% cocoa, and has coconut in it. Good quality dark chocolate actually has some great health benefits as well. It’s one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet, and it’s an excellent source of iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. So if you’re craving a healthy treat, have a few pieces of chocolate after dinner. Or melt it down to make hot chocolate or drizzle over strawberries. Yum!
What foods do you always have on hand?