Updated: Apr 22, 2019
The first step to a healthy lifestyle? A healthy kitchen!
Despite spending countless hours in the kitchen, I would fail most of the Martha Stewart “tests”. My spices have been in the cupboard for more than 6 months, soy sauce has been in the fridge more than 1 month, and I still have infant formula samples buried somewhere (my youngest kiddo is four and I never even used formula). But there are a few essential items I like to keep around that help me prepare healthy, quick meals and snacks and I’d like to share them with you.
1. Plain, Greek yogurt
Very versatile; high in protein and calcium.
-add to a smoothie
-as a substitute for fat in quick breads and baking. Substitute ½ the oil with ¾ the amount of yogurt.
-as a substitute for ½ of the sour cream in dips, sauces, dressings, or when topping baked potatoes
I almost always have one avocado in use and one ripening on the counter. Recently, though, I found frozen avocado slices in the grocery store! Frozen at the peak of ripeness, these are perfect for throwing into a smoothie in the morning.
-as a substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich or as a topping for a hamburger
-Add to smoothies for added creaminess
-Impromptu guacamole or healthy salad dressing. (Add peeled avocado, a garlic clove, some olive oil lemon juice, salt and pepper and a splash of water in a blender.)
-Avocado and tomato summer salad
-Shmear on toast for a breakfast packed with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Cocoa powder (unsweetened, natural)
You probably have it in your panty for baking, but I use it to add a chocolatey taste to a variety of things. Who could pass up chocolate that has no sugar or fat, but lots of polyphenols to help combat inflammation? Not me ;)
-Add it to smoothies (Can you tell I make a lot of smoothies?)
-Add a tablespoon to an energy ball mix
-Add it to oatmeal (yep, it’ll mix right into hot oatmeal). My kids especially like this for an after-school snack.
-Add some depth to dry rubs for meats and pork
-Cocoa dusted almonds
-Hot cocoa. This may sound obvious, but I grew up on packaged, sugary hot cocoa. Since my kids have had the, ahem, ‘opportunity’ , to try the sugary kind outside of my home, they don’t want my reduced- sugar homemade version. So, I split a packet of the sugary stuff between two mugs and make up the difference with pure cocoa powder. Top with milk and no one is the wiser.
4. Frozen fruit
-Those bags of frozen fruit decrease waste as it’s all unbruised, ripe fruit.
- You guessed it…smoothies!
-make a yummy crumble
-throw into oatmeal
5. Canned salmon
An inexpensive and convenient way to sneak in the recommended weekly amount of fatty fish for heart health! Canned salmon offers wild Alaskan salmon with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and calcium (from the tiny, edible bones).
-Smoothies (just kidding!!)
-Throw together with cooked rice/pasta/vegetables/risotto
There’s always more, but those are my favs.
6. Plain Oatmeal
Oats pack their nutritious punch from antioxidants and soluble fiber. The kind of fiber that lowers LDL and total cholesterol.
-Bowl of hot oatmeal
-Mix into smoothies
-Add to batters for pancakes/breads
-Base for energy balls
Tell me what you keep around to whip up healthy meals in a pinch!