Here's a roundup of ten essential food items all healthy eaters should always have in their kitchen:
Leafy greens. They are loaded with nutrients like vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and minerals (eg: iron and calcium). "Enjoy a variety of greens. Go beyond kale and spinach. There’s so much to explore. Try beet greens, collard greens, arugula, mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard or rapini," says Devje. Best ways to eat leafy greens: Add them to your soups, smoothies, salads, wraps or Buddha bowls. "Remember to add a dash of oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, to your leafy greens to help support absorption of fat-soluble nutrients found in leafy greens," says the dietitian.
Fish. It's chock full of protein, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. "The omega-3 fats protect your heart by keeping your blood vessels healthy, reducing inflammation as well as lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels," explains Devje. Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are all excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. "If you’re concerned about mercury exposure, avoid eating high-mercury types, such as swordfish, orange roughy, shark, marlin, bigeye tuna and king mackerel," she suggests. Best ways to eat fish: "Poaching and steaming are both healthy ways to cook fish. Baking fish is another great cooking method that requires minimal effort," says the nutritionist.
Bone Broth. “Bone broth is an incredibly nourishing superfood that has been consumed for thousands of years with health benefits like strengthening bones, skin nails and hair and reducing inflammation and joint pain," says Meredith Cochran, co-founder and CEO of The Osso Good Co. and author of The 7 Day Bone Broth Diet Plan. Moreover, it also supports the immune system and improves digestion. These benefits stem from bone broth's "high collagen, gelatin, amino acid and mineral counts,” she explains. Best ways to eat bone broth: “It’s great to sip warm like you would take coffee or tea. Bone broth can also be used in tons of recipes like as a base for soups, curries, smoothies, stews and sauces, or in place of water in rice, quinoa and pasta dishes,” says Cochran.
Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, calcium and Vitamin B12. "It's also a great source of probiotics, which help to promote a healthy digestive system," notes Devje. Best ways to eat Greek yogurt: Use it to substitute for cream in sauces, curries and soups. "Or, simply add one cup of Greek yogurt to your favorite breakfast smoothie to get a whopping 22 g of protein," suggests Devje. Alternatively, you can mix it in salads, dips or use it in baking.
Bananas. They are rich in vitamins, dietary fiber and minerals like potassium and magnesium. "Bananas are considered to be a low/medium GI (Glycemic Index) food, which means that they don’t cause a significant spike in blood sugars of healthy individuals. Thus offering you a slower and more sustained release of energy through the day," explains the Toronto-based dietitian. Best ways to eat bananas: Other than eating it as is, you can use bananas while making pancakes, bread, breakfast parfait and smoothies or turn 'em into breakfast pops. Place peeled bananas in plastic resealable bags and store them in the freezer to keep them from over-ripening.
Quinoa. One of the most nourishing and versatile whole grains, quinoa is a good source of fiber, protein and Vitamin B6. It also contains more protein and iron as impaired to other grains, says Devje. Best ways to eat quinoa: For convenience, prepare a batch in advance on the weekend and store it in your fridge. Use it throughout the week in soups, salads, stuffed vegetables, quesadillas and breakfast bowls. You can also "stir cooked quinoa with beans, leftover veggies, herbs and a dash of olive oil and seasoning to create a quick and nutrient-packed meal," adds the nutritionist.
Beans. Beans are loaded with dietary fiber and protein. They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, "making them an ideal choice for those looking to control their cholesterol levels and manage their weight or diabetes," says Devje. Best ways to eat beans: Play around with different types of beans to create your favorite recipes. You can throw them in burritos, quesadillas, salsas, salads, pasta sauces or burgers. "Beans can also be used to create quick and tasty dips to use as spreads or for dipping vegetables," notes the dietitian.
Eggs. They are a pretty convenient and healthy food item to have in your fridge. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, vitamins (A, D and B12) and other essential nutrients. "People are often concerned about the effect of eating eggs on their cholesterol levels. Research indicates that an egg a day is not associated with coronary heart disease or stroke in healthy adults," explains Devje. "However, having more than seven eggs per week has been associated with increased risk, particularly for those with diabetes," she adds. Best ways to eat eggs: Honestly, the options are endless! You can eat them boiled, baked, poached, steamed or scrambled. Or, use them in breakfast burritos, pasta, salads and sandwiches.
Nuts And Nut Butter. Nut butter can be a nutritious choice to add to your arsenal. But "be wary as some are laden with sugar, hydrogenated oils and other not-so-great ingredients," the nutrition guru points out. Meanwhile, plain nuts are chock full of protein, fiber, vitamins, healthy fats and minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium. They are also portable, easy to store and simple to integrate into your diet. "However, make sure you don't munch on them mindlessly as they’re energy-dense and pack a hefty caloric punch," she adds. Best ways to eat nuts and nut butter: You can eat a handful of roasted or unsalted nuts for a quick and healthy snack. Alternatively, throw in nuts like almonds, pistachio or walnuts in smoothies, yogurt, salads or breakfast cereal. "Dip fruits like apple, pear or banana in your favorite all-natural nut butter. The protein in the nut butter will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help prevent a spike in your blood sugars," notes Devje. "You can also whisk a dollop of nut butter with garlic, hot chili sauce and soy sauce to create a delicious and fiery marinate for tofu and vegetables," she suggests.
Oats. Packed with protein, iron, potassium and magnesium, oats are filling, versatile and incredibly nutritious. Plus, "soluble fibre, found in oats, helps to control blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels", says the dietitian. Best way to use oats: Make a batch of granola using rolled oats with your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruits, she suggests. You can also try this delish blueberry-oat quick bread recipe. Or, mix it with cooked veggies and raw fruits for a nutritious salad. Additionally, you can also use oats in making baked goodies like cookies, muffins and scones.
Other must-have kitchen staples include lentils, herbs, apples, extra virgin olive oil, honey, garlic and whole wheat pasta. Also, make sure you buy more whole grains, always keep healthy, ready-to-eat snacks close at hand and read nutritional labels carefully while grocery shopping, says the award-winning dietitian.