Do you ever get home after a long day and quickly prepare an unhealthy meal because you’re #hangry and can’t even? This is a really common circumstance. It takes an incredible amount of self-control and discipline to opt for a healthy option when you’re tired and hungry, as opposed to something easy, processed and weak in nutrients. The problem with the latter option, besides the lack of nutrient substance, is that “empty” processed food doesn’t keep you full for long. There’s a much higher chance of aimless snacking, which can lead to weight gain and health problems down the road.
So here’s what you do: Stock your kitchen with healthful ingredients and limit yourself to the unhealthy stuff as treats when you’re out. Never buy the bag of flavored chips or chocolate chip cookies for your home pantry, it’s setting yourself up for disaster (especially if you live alone)! Here are 10 ingredients to always have on-hand to assist in healthier choices:
1. Non-Dairy Milk: This is great for everything from breakfast bowls, smoothies and baking, to a single glass to curb your appetite. I like using unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk.
2. Quinoa: This is an incredible base to just about anything. Quinoa can be a stand-alone side dish to your evening dinner, thrown into a salad for lunch, or subbed for the oats in oatmeal. Quinoa is a complete protein (great for vegans) that has endless uses.
3. Raw Nuts: The perfect snack – raw nuts are full of healthy fats and protein that curb our hunger. It’s important to buy raw, unsalted, because when we start adding too much flavor, it’s easier to eat more of them. Yes, nuts are healthy, but in moderation due to the high fat content (even though it’s good fat).
4. Greek Yogurt: This is another great snack that is perfect for an on-the-go breakfast if you’re running late. It’s high in protein and probiotics to help your body get going in the morning.
5. Lemon: This is great for salad dressings, as a flavor enhancer, or a supplement to a plain glass of water (so many benefits)!
6. Banana or Fresh Berries: Bananas are cost effective and can be quickly added to a smoothie (think: milk, banana & greek yogurt… you’re stocked already!). If you don’t like bananas, fresh berries are a wonderful options with various health benefits as well.
7. Dark Chocolate Bar, 75%: If you have a huge sweet tooth like me, this is essential. You know you’re going to indulge, might as well do it with something that’s rich in antioxidants!8. Various Vinegars: White wine, apple cider, balsamic, champagne — keep these on-hand for simple dressings or marinades for various proteins, and great flavor-enhancers to your sauteed veggies.
9. Avocado: We know that avocado is a wonderful superfood, so we should try keeping it stocked at all times. Why? Avocado toast (I could end here but…), salads, smoothies, avocado baked eggs, the list goes on. It’s an incredibly healthy food that will always add value to your meals.
10. Herbs & Spices: This is a big one. Invest in various dried herbs and spices to help enhance everything you cook. A simple dinner of broccoli and sauteed chicken can quickly be turned into something spectacular with the right flavors! I am a huge fan of fresh herbs, but it’s not realistic to consistently have those on-hand. Think: basil, chili powder, cumin, allspice. You can also experiment making teas with different spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and coriander.
As long as you plan your weekly grocery store haul for fresh veggies and protein, you will be able to create a complete (and delicious) meal with the above kitchen staples.
What are your healthy kitchen staples? Share in the comments!