by Samantha Richards, Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.
My overall goal is to give you recipes for healthy food that is both delicious and beneficial to your overall health, preferably for years to come, getting you closer to physical fitness and overall internal health.
The following is intended to provide a different view on health food. I will start by providing a few examples of what I eat on a regular basis, and store in my kitchen.
You will not eat unhealthy food nearly as often if it is not so accessible in your pantry. On the other hand, having health food in your cabinets will make it easier to eat smarter.
Essentially, you have to become shop smarter at the grocery store and only get what you need. This is simply what I like to do for myself, but hopefully it can supply you with some inspiration of your own.
A Healthy Fridge
The fridge will be our starting point. I try to get as many vegetables as possible stocked in my fridge every week. When I can get them, I find it best to get local produce – in the winter months, though, the grocery store is your only option.
Some vegetables I like to possess include spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, broccoli, and zucchini, among other healthy vegetables. I tend to include them with my eggs at breakfast time.
As I make the eggs, I often combine it with turkey sausage or lean chicken, and I attempt to get as much raw grass-fed cheeses as I can, particularly jack and goat cheeses.
When I refer to eggs, I am talking about the entire egg. If you only eat the egg whites, you are just wasting material and avoiding the part of the egg that has the most nutrients and nutritional value.
The cholesterol does not make it bad for you, despite what you may think. In fact, you get good cholesterol from eggs. The best eggs are the free range organic variety. If you want to hear my thoughts on egg whites and whole eggs, check out this article.
Coconut Milk and Healthy Fats
I always keep coconut milk with me. It really enhances the flavor of oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies, lending it a richness and taste that is unmatched. Healthy saturated fats are also part and parcel of coconut milk, making whatever I add it to more healthy and more delicious.
Despite what you have heard, there are healthy saturated fats! Medium chain triglycerides like lauric acid are examples of healthy saturated fats.
Also in my fridge are:
- Nuts like pecans, almonds, and walnuts have great, healthy fat content.
- Yogurt, ricotta and cottage cheeses – If you need a snack in the mid-afternoon, you can mix any of these with berries and nuts to create a nice, delicious concoction.
- Chia and whole flax seeds – yogurt and salads can benefit from ground versions of these particular seeds. If you do get them, grind them fresh, so that the omega-3 fatty acids do not have a chance to oxidize and create more free radicals.-
- Whole eggs – do not be afraid of these, as the cholesterol is good for you, and they are full of beneficial nutrients.
- Salsa – You can really go nuts with the different salsas you can find out there.
- Avocados – they are not only delicious, they are full of nutrients and fiber. Sandwiches and wraps can really pop if you add an avocado.
- Butter – Despite what you may have heard, margarine is arguably worse than butter, since it can cause a heart attack; butter is fine, as long as you keep it in moderation, as it is full of calories…otherwise, it is a great, flavorful addition to a dish.
- Nut butters – If you are tired of peanut butter, you can get that same nutrition and flavor from mixes of different nut butters, like those from almonds, cashews, sesame seeds and macadamia nuts.
- Romaine and spinach with carrot shreds – You can use these for great side salads.
- Homemade salad dressing – just mix Udo’s Choice oil blend with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You will find this much more delicious that what you’d buy in a store, and, since there is no soybean oil like in regular dressings, it is healthier.
- Whole grain breads and wraps – these can really help you create an effective snack or meal, just try to get ones that have sufficient fiber.
- Wheat germ and rice bran – You might be a little put off by this suggestion, but smoothies and yogurts really benefit from their crunch, and you can get more fiber in your muffins or homemade bread if you include them.
A Healthy Freezer
- Frozen berries – I try to get fresh berries as often as I can, but when they are not available, I find that frozen berries such as cherries and strawberries work just fine. They really go great with whatever cottage cheese, yogurt, or cereal you are eating.
- Frozen Fish – Varying whatever fish I eat every week can be really interesting. You will have plenty of fish varieties to choose from, so try to vary your menu.
- Frozen chicken breasts – You won’t believe how easy it is to make a nice, healthy, substantial meal with this.
- Grass-fed red meat – it is okay to eat red meat, as long as it is been grass-fed; that gives it a higher omega-3 fatty acid count than salmon. As opposed to typical beef, which is grain-fed, You will find better CLA levels (conjugated linoleic acid) with grass-fed meats.
- Frozen exotic lean meats, such as venison and buffalo – While these may be more on the expensive side, and they might be a little offbeat, they are extremely healthy meats, and they are well worth investigating if you really want to get your body as healthy and lean as possible without ingesting grocery store-bought meat that is injected with hormones.
- Frozen veggies – these are often my alternatives in the event that it is not growing season and I cannot get local produce; they will have a lot more nutrients than fresh produce that you get at the grocery store – those will lose a lot of their nutritional value as they ship around the country for weeks.
A Healthy Pantry / Cupboard
These are what I usually keep in my pantry:
- Teas rich in antioxidants – you cannot go wrong with oolong or green teas.
- Whole grain pasta – you can get a lot more fiber with these.
- Steel cut oats and oat bran – again, the fiber content is a lot higher.
- Coconut milk cans – once I open these, I transfer the remainder to a container to refrigerate.
- Brown rice – do not consume white rice in your diet.
- Tomato sauces – You can get a lot of healthy lycopene from these tasty sauces that can go with almost anything. All you have to do is avoid high fructose corn syrup in whatever brand you choose.
- Stevia – This allows you to sweeten your foods in a healthy way without having to use aspartame, sucralose, or saccharine.
- Raw honey – this beats processed honey by a mile. You will get much greater nutritional value from raw honey. Your ability to process carbs is much improved with a sufficient amount of honey in your diet. My morning tea benefits from a teaspoon of honey daily. There is a lot of sugar in it, but the benefits are worth it. There are only 5 grams of carbs in a teaspoon of raw honey, anyway. This is definitely a negligible amount.
- Organic maple syrup – absolutely go for this in lieu of artificially created maple syrup brands that are mostly made of high fructose corn syrup. Since there is so much sugar in it, I just like to put a little bit in the smoothies I drink after my workouts, as the boost in insulin will give your muscles the needed nutrition.
- Organic cocoa powder (unsweetened) – my smoothies receive this as well, since the antioxidants within can really help you; I also use it in milk, which I add some chunks of dark chocolate to in order to make my own cocoa.
- Kidney or black bean cans – Any Mexican wraps I make have these added to them, so I can benefit from the fiber they supply. The antioxidants that these beans provide are also incredibly healthy and youth promoting!
- The darkest chocolate I can find – This way, I can have the sweets that I love, but still get plenty of antioxidants for my trouble. Despite this, there are still a lot of calories in there, so I minimize the amounts I use – however, I do not need a whole lot, as I just include enough so I can taste it; this way, I can healthily satisfy my sweet tooth.
Finally, I try to keep as many fresh fruits and berries in my kitchen as I possibly can.
You cannot go wrong with such common and exotic fruits as apples, oranges, bananas, peaches and pears, as well as pomegranates, papaya, star fruit, pineapple, mangoes, and a lot of other fruits that I can find locally and at the store.
You can gain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants from fruits like cherries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.