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A Nutritionist’s Top 10 Staple Foods

Roasted Peppers Onions & Fennel

Last month, a friend and fellow-blogger, Margaret (http://www.smarthomeeconomics.com), asked me to share some of my favorite foods to keep on hand at all times. Being the creature of habit that I am, it wasn’t hard for me to rattle off my go-tos. With these staples, you can whip up easy meals and snacks that will fill you up without filling you out.

My top 10 food staples are…

  1. Mixed Nuts. The high fat content in nuts means they taste delicious and are incredibly satisfying. They also come packed with protein and fiber to keep you fuller, longer. A recent study showed that even though nuts are generally high in calories, not all of those calories are absorbed by the body—that’s because nuts are loaded with fiber, which is indigestible and essentially passes through your system, pulling out the gunk along with it.
  2. Avocados. Like nuts, avocados are high in fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (the kind that doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol). They also provide something called glutathione, which is a fancy word for a fancy antioxidant that helps detoxify the body and fend of cancer. Choose avocadoes with a dark green almost black skin, as this indicates it’s almost ripe. Dice them up for a salad toss in, smash and spread as a toast topper, mash for the base of a guac or dip, or use in place of mayo in tuna salad. I even love them plain with a drizzle of lemon juice, sea salt & pepper.
  3. Eggs. As one of the best sources of protein, I recommend most people eat an egg (or two!) every day. They’re relatively inexpensive, versatile and satisfying. I often fix a couple of soft boiled eggs to toss into my salad or leftover veggies and have even been known to drop them into a simmering can of tomato soup for a powerful protein boost. They’re the perfect base for healthy workday lunches too. And I’m loving the baked eggs in an avocado trend
  4. Pre-washed greens. Most of us don’t eat enough greens—nutrition powerhouses packed with antioxidants like vitamins C and E and folic acid—so this is about making the healthy choice the easy choice. You’ll be way more likely to pack some greens into your wrap or whip up a quick salad if you don’t have to do anything but simply grab from the fridge. #noexcuses
  5. Organic apples. Apples are a terrific, totable snack. They’re a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help to lower cholesterol and keep your digestion running smoothly. Conventional apples contain some of the highest levels of pesticides (#2 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list), so here’s one purchase you’ll want to splurge on organic.
  6. Plain 2% Greek yogurt. I need a little fat for flavor and satisfaction, so you’ll never catch me with a nonfat yogurt. And since the jury’s still mixed on saturated fat and heart disease (not so sure I buy it), I’m choosing the middle of the road. It’s best to get plain and add your own toppings like sliced strawberries & lightly salted peanuts (an amazing combo), or a little drizzle of maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. Greek yogurt has higher protein content than regular, so it really does fill you up.
  7. Premade turkey burgers. Some nights you just don’t feel like cooking, so it’s crucial to have quick and simple options on hand like chicken sausages or frozen meatballs. I keep a couple of these Black Bean Turkey Burgers in my fridge or freezer, ready to whip up in 10 minutes in the toaster oven. All I have to do is steam some broccoli or make a quick tossed salad and dinner is done.
  8. Frozen peeled & deveined shrimp. Even though shrimp is high in dietary cholesterol, it’s very low in fat, so NO, it does not raise your blood cholesterol! This is the perfect toss-in for a stir fry or salad topper. Just thaw under cold water, and sauté in olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic, salt & pepper. Toss in a bag of mixed frozen veggies and a drizzle of tamari for another easy meal.
  9. Roast-able veggies. I’m kinda cheating because this is really like 5 foods. Think: carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, fennel, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, onions, etc. You can’t really go wrong with a simply roasted vegetable, so really load your cart with options. Choose 2 or 3 to wash, chop, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and bake at 400° for 30 minutes on a parchment paper-lined pan for a super easy and satisfying dinner side that lends leftovers for days. (Bonus: cleanup’s a breeze.)
  10. Dark chocolate. I end each meal with a couple of squares. It’s my indulgence and my signal that the meal is over. Stick to a version that’s more than 60% cocoa content to reap the benefits of antioxidant flavanols and keep your sugar consumption in check.

I could go on… next on my list would be wild salmon, brown basmati rice, mixed berries (fresh and frozen) and flavored seltzer water. These foods are not revolutionary. My strategy is to keep it simple. If it’s not something I can prep in less than 7 minutes, I’m much more tempted to order from the local pizza delivery joint. Save that for Friday.

 

 

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