“Healthy” is a tricky term because most everything these days seems to be tilted that direction in some way. If you’re not a nutritionist, or a fitness fanatic, it’s hard to know where to begin and what to buy. Keeping your kitchen healthy doesn’t have to be so hard. Start with some simple basics from the lists we’ve put together for you below. Having these items in your food pantry will help tremendously towards well balanced meals and well balanced health.
Fat, oil and sweets, when chosen well, can lead to a healthy heart. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats. Saturated and trans fats are considered bad fats. Watch for those terms on labels. Keep limitations on things like butter, cheese and ice cream. Replace butter with vegetable oils and red meat with fish or white meat poultry. Utilize this category sparingly in your diet. In other words: don’t overindulge. For more in depth information on which fats are good and which are bad, click here.
- Peanut butter
- Olive, sunflower, soy oil
- Hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds
Protein fills you up without filling up your whole plate. keep your energy high throughout the day by adding protein sources to your snacks and meals. These are some easy things you can stock up on. To learn more about how protein affects your diet, click here.
- Seafood – tuna and especially salmon, which provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- White-meat poultry
- Kidney, white, black beans, chickpeas – great to add to salads, rice or as a side dish. They contain fiber as well, so they’ll keep you full!
- Meal replacement drinks/energy bars – get your protein in on a tight timeline
- Yogurt/Milk/Cheese – keep small amounts of these handy to add to meals and recipes to get your calcium intake and add some flavor!
Fruits and vegetables provide a good punch of vitamins and minerals throughout your day. When you’re picking what to stock up on, think whole, raw and dark. Canned, syrupy options are filled with sugars and contain very little health benefit. Picking up whole fruits and veggies give you the best nutrients. Dark, leafy vegetables should be a staple in your diet a few times a week. If you’re a vegetarian, these can be substituted for meat as well. And, be careful how much oil, butter or dressings you use on them. For more about fruits and veggies, or some yummy recipes, click here.
- Collard greens
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potato
- Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries)
Carbs can be beneficial if eaten in the right amount. They provide your body with fuel to burn through throughout the day. You will want to have a good stock of whole grains to choose from. Keep bread to a minimum and use fruits, vegetables and proteins to add flavor versus sauces, toppings and dips. For more information about what carbs can do for your body, click here.
- Steel cut oats
- Whole grain bread
- Whole wheat couscous
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
Next time you hit the grocery store, think whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Stick to the outside aisles except for beans, peanut butter and meal replacements like protein drinks or bars. Stay away from fruit juices, canned fruits and vegetables and packaged items. When you hit the kitchen, fill up your belly on more protein than carbs. Use seeds, nuts, bean salads and fruits/veggies for snacks.
What fills your kitchen now? If you threw out all that wasn’t on this list – what would be left?