A Dietitian’s shopping list:
The vegetarian staples everyone should try have in their kitchen!
With the busy life we lead, eating well can sometimes be difficult to achieve. However, keeping a few healthy staple foods in your fridge and pantry can help make your busy lives a little less stressful. Here are my go-to foods that I always have in my kitchen that you should keep on hand too.
Blueberries (frozen or fresh)
Blueberries are nutritional power houses. They are rich in antioxidants, low in sugar and also contain a hit of fibre. There is also evidence to suggest that including blueberries as part of a healthy diet can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood pressure.
Now, is fresh always best? Fresh is great, but for convenience (and price) when they are out of season, you can’t go past having frozen blueberries on hand. And, because they are frozen soon after picking, the nutrient losses are small. Plus, you can store them for much longer!
I include a handful of frozen berries in my smoothies of a morning. But you can add them to cereal/porridge or to yoghurt, custard or salads. If you buy them fresh you can snack on them straight out of the punnet. Not only are they versatile, they’re also delicious!
However, you like it, whether its crunchy, smooth, seeded or dark roasted, peanut butter is a winner (unless you have a nut allergy of course). Like the blueberries, it’s incredibly versatile.
Peanut butter is a rich source of monounsaturated fats – the healthy ones that help to reduce cholesterol. It is also a good source of fibre, protein, magnesium, Niacin (Vitamin B3), folate, phosphorus and vitamin E.
The key to reaping the health benefits from peanut butter is to eat it in moderation. Peanut butter is energy dense. Remember that too much of a good thing isn’t always good, especially if you’re trying to keep your weight in check. So rather than going nuts on the stuff, exercise portion control and stick to a tablespoon at a time.
Ways I like to include peanut butter in my diet
1 tablespoon in my smoothie
Vegetable sticks dipped in peanut butter
Spread on rice/corn thins with sliced banana on top
Spread onto a slice of grainy toast
Mixed through a stir-fry
Or a sneaky spoonful straight out of the jar!
Extra virgin olive oil
This is something you will always find a bottle of in my cupboard. Extra virgin olive oil or EVOO is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways. Studies have shown that EVOO can help reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the bad type) and boost HDL cholesterol (the good type). It is also jam packed full of antioxidants to help protect the body against free radicals (molecules that cause cell damage and contribute to disease and the aging process).
I like to add EVOO to roast vegetables, salads, risottos and pastas.
Eggs are nutritional power houses packed with heaps of the good stuff including protein, vitamin B12, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, selenium, iodine, folate and vitamin A. They are also naturally low in salt and sugar. And, because they are high in protein, they help to keep us fuller for longer, so they’re a great option for those looking to shed some weight.
Eggs can be boiled, scrambled, fried, poached, served on toast, in salads and sandwiches or in stir-fries, and they’re a vital ingredient in baking!
Baked beans are packed full of nutrients such as vitamin B6 and B1, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, potassium, zinc and selenium. They are low in fat, high in low GI carbs and fibre, and contain a decent amount of protein and little sugar. Studies have shown that eating baked beans can help reduce cholesterol levels, due to their soluble fibre content.
I enjoy my baked beans on a slice of grainy toast with a poached egg on top!
Milk, yoghurt & cheese
Dairy foods sure do pack a nutritional punch! Most contain over 10 nutrients important for our general health, nervous system, muscle function, energy levels and bone health. Dairy foods are a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B12, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous as well as protein and low GI carbohydrates.
You can increase your dairy intake by adding milk and a dollop of yoghurt to your cereal or porridge. Snack on low fat yoghurt, low fat cheese and grainy crackers at mid-mealtimes. You could add ricotta or feta cheese to salads and pasta dishes. The opportunities to include dairy are endless!
Get your pantry and fridge into shape in 2021 and base your staples on whole foods, you’ll thank me later. Also, keep in mind that depending upon your nutrition goals, health conditions, medical history, allergies or intolerances, this shopping list may need to be adjusted to better suit your individual needs.
Other great pantry staples not mentioned are bread, tinned tuna, pasta/rice, coffee and wholegrain cereals!