My top 20 healthy pantry foods I purchase allow me to always have healthy options at home. One of the most common questions I’m asked is “How can I help my family and I eat better?” One of the easiest ways you can help your entire family eat healthy is to make sure you have healthy pantry staples on-hand at all times. Here is my go-to top 20 list that makes healthy eating fast and simple. The list includes foods you should have stocked in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to make healthy eating easier everyday .
This post was inspired by the Amex EveryDay Credit Card which is a no-annual fee card that rewards Card Members for those in-the-trenches purchases from honey to chicken broth- daily life demands: if you use the Card 20 times or more in a billing period, you earn 20% extra Membership Reward points. I’m thrilled to be working with the folks at American Express as the EveryDay credit card makes perfect sense to reward us for our purchases without an annual fee.
You earn 2x the points at grocery stores. As a registered dietitian and nutrition expert, I absolutely love this! You earn 1x on everything else and once you get to 20 transactions, you get the 20% bonus just because.
1. Canned tomatoes: one of the most versatile items you can stock up on that will add a flavorful punch to any recipe! Containing the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene, you can add canned tomatoes to stews, chili, or make your own pasta sauce. With so many options at the grocery store you can choose whole, chopped, diced, crushed, low-sodium and no-salt added versions.
2. Spices: add fabulous flavor to your food without all the calories and fat with a well-stocked spice rack! Using spices like cinnamon, oregano, thyme and ginger to flavor your food can also help you reduce your salt intake. Spice it up in your kitchen!
3. Frozen vegetables: great to keep on hand, especially when your favorite veggies are out of season or not available at the grocery store. Plus, research shows that they are just as nutritious as fresh veggies, since they’re packed at their peak of freshness.
4. Extra-virgin olive oil: this versatile oil full of healthy fats and can be used for salad dressings and making homemade hummus.
5. Honey: a natural sweetener that is extremely versatile and delicious. Wonderful to add to smoothies or try my Honey Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls recipe. A popular favorite in my family and with the professional baseball players I work with are the peanut butter and honey sandwiches with bananas on whole wheat sandwich thins.
6. Eggs: one of nature’s perfect little protein packages, wrapped up in an assortment of essential vitamins and minerals. Enjoy eggs in a breakfast omelets or hard-boil for a high-protein snack.
7. Rolled Oats: my go-to breakfast is oatmeal, so stocking up on rolled oats means you will always have them on hand to make a quick and delicious breakfast to start your day on the right track. Try swapping out your regular morning cereal for a warm bowl of oatmeal for a filling breakfast that will give you lasting energy throughout the day.
8. Greek Yogurt: a staple in my refrigerator for several years, this high-protein yogurt will provide a satisfying snack or is a great addition to your meal. Providing sweetness without all of the added sugar of regular yogurt. You can also add your own flavor and sweetness to your Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.
9. Kefir: one of my top 10 foods to try in my latest book, The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin. This protein packed drinkable gem is a great way to get probiotics in your diet without all the sugar. Kefir is a fermented milk and many new flavors and portable options are now available in grocery stores.
10. Black beans: a great source of protein and fiber for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Regardless of whether you buy canned or dried, they can be a tasty addition to chili, salads, fajitas, pastas, entrees and soups. Just go on Pinterest to find lots of great recipes using black beans.
11. Frozen fruit: load up your freezer with your favorite frozen fruit. Frozen fruit is a great add-in for an energizing morning smoothie, added to your favorite Greek yogurt, or even simmered in a saucepan into a berry sauce for your favorite whole wheat French toast or pancakes.
12. Low-sodium chicken broth: this must-have makes it easy to put together a last-minute minute meal in a flash.
13. Sardines: one of my newest pantry staples that I love. Loaded in protein and omega 3′s, sardines are definitely making a comeback. Buy the sardines packed in water, lemon, or mustard options.
14. Nuts: keep an assortment of nuts on hand like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Nuts can add a great crunch to a salad and area always enjoyed as a healthy snack when eaten alone.
15. Peanut butter: a versatile and delicious food that provides a healthy fat boost to your meals and snacks. Look for the natural versions or peanuts or other nut butters. Look at the ingredients label and it should just contain only two ingredients: nuts and salt.
16. Quinoa: often confused to be a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. A complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is a perfect side to any meal or eaten as your main dish. There are so many delicious and healthy quinoa recipes available on Pinterest.
17. Whole wheat pasta: buy whole wheat pasta since it can have nearly 2-3 times as much fiber as regular pasta and more protein. This easy add can make mealtime a cinch and whole wheat pasta is much tastier than it was ten years ago.
18. Balsamic vinegar: one of my favorite ways to add a lot of flavor to many meals without many calories and no fat. I use in slow cooker recipes, vegetables, entrees, and sides. Every kitchen should have a good balsamic vinegar.
19. Energy bars: stocking your pantry with clean energy bars is a great way to be prepared for a snack attack or those times that you know you will be without food and need to throw one in your purse or car.
20. Freekeh: the newest food on this list that I keep stocked in my pantry, freekeh is a roasted grain that is loaded with protein and fiber and offered a great alternative to rice and other grains. It has a delicious nutty and chewy texture that is great for side dishes and salads.
Everyone has 20 purchases or pantry items that keeps theirs household running…now tell me, what’s your 20?
I am an American Express card member and an EveryDay Moms Ambassador.
It’s National Strawberry Month and the sweet news about strawberries is not only are they beautiful and delicious but California strawberries also offer many health benefits.
Research has shown that eating just eight strawberries a day may improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of some cancers and support cognitive function. Strawberries are also full of ellagic acid, which can help prevent cancer.
Nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown fresh strawberries come from California, with more than 2.3 billion pounds being harvested annually. If California were a country, it would be the world’s largest producer of strawberries. California is the heart of the nation’s strawberry production credited to the hard work and tireless efforts of more than 400 family farmers. California offers the ideal climate for strawberry farming, allowing the fruit to be available year round.
In my house, we eat a lot of strawberries since they are such a versatile culinary ingredient. Of course they are wonderful eaten alone but it is also so easy to just add strawberries into meals and snacks like salads, smoothies, drinks, and entrees.
Here’s a recipe that incorporates strawberries into a delicious relish to top your halibut.
Citrus Halibut & Summer Strawberry Relish
4 halibut fillets–about 6 to 8 ounces each
Strawberry Relish (see recipe below)
Lemon slices, for garnish
Parsley, for garnish
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian parsley – chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh chives – chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup California strawberries – diced
1/2 medium shallot – finely diced
1/3 cup smoked almonds – roughly chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian parsley– chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh chives – chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine olive oil, parsley, chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest and salt and pepper.
Place fish in a glass pan and pour marinade over the top. Cover and place in refrigerator for an hour.
In a bowl combine strawberries, shallot, almonds, olive oil, parsley, chives, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat grill or oven to 350 degrees F for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Spray or rub the grill with non-stick spray and grill the halibut until cooked, approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Or place in an oven safe pan and cook in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
Plate cooked fish and then add a generous, “loving” spoonful of Strawberry Relish on top of each fillet. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley.
As an alternative, halibut can be substituted with swordfish, mahi mahi, sea bass, cod, scallops or snapper.
To discover new ways to just add strawberries into easy meals and snacks and to learn more about California strawberries visit CaliforniaStrawberries.com.
To enter the #StrawberryRed contest check this out!
Disclosure: I work with the folks at the California Strawberry Commission. Opinions are my own.
Here’s a deliciously simple and nutritious way to enjoy watermelon!
Watermelon Feta Salad
Makes 1 serving
1 cup watermelon, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon feta cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil or mint
Mix watermelon, feta, and basil in a bowl. Serve chilled.
With less than 10 days left in the LaCroix 40 Can Challenge, we are definitely in the home stretch! If you haven’t started your switch from diet or regular soda, it is not too late! Start today!
Use LaCroix as your sweetener and calorie free mixer. It is 100% natural sparkling water with a hint of natural fruit flavor. Here’s a delicious skinny cocktail recipe to help you using the bold flavor of the all new Cerise Limon Curate to create your own Pear Limonade recipe.
- 1 part pear vodka
- ½ part LaCroix Cúrate Cerise Limón
- ½ part lemonade**
Mix pear vodka and lemonade. Pour over ice in a collins glass. Top with LaCroix Cúrate Cerise Limón. Garnish with a cherry and a lime.
**Substitute lemonade for Lemon LaCroix Sparkling Water for a lower calorie recipe.
Disclosure: I work with the folks at LaCroix. Opinions are my own.
School is winding down for the year and often times it gets harder and harder to figure out what to pack for school lunches. Sodas, juice drinks, cookies, hotdogs, and chips- all common school lunch components but none healthy. Over the past years, some schools have improved the nutritional quality of their lunches but it is an area that desperately needs more attention by both schools and parents.
What’s scary is that the obesity rate of young kids to teens is significantly rising and poor lunch options aren’t making things any better. Over 1/3 of our nation’s youth are either overweight or obese. Poor food choices and a lack of physical activity are contributors to this epidemic. So, what can you do as a parent do to help prevent your child from weight control issues?
For starters, making sure that they have a healthy and adequate lunch will put them on the right track. Kids can be awfully picky when it comes to choosing and eating certain foods. In general, there is an overconsumption of high calorie drinks and high fat foods and an underconsumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you are unsure about what your kids may be eating at school, make sure you take a peek at the school menu and consider visiting at lunchtime. You can also inquire about volunteering this year or next to serve the children to get a better understanding to see what they are actually eating.
If your kids are taking lunches from home try to limit the highly processed snacks and give them more fresh food items like fruits and vegetables. If you have healthier foods available at home to make a healthy lunch, you can send your kids to school with the reassurance that they’re getting a nutritious meal.
Follow these 6 tips for packing your kids school lunch:
1. Plan Ahead: Since you can only pack a good lunch if you have the foods available make sure to go shopping at least 1-2 times per week so you will have fresh foods on hand.
2. Get Them Involved: Take your kids grocery shopping with you and ask them to pick out their favorite fruits and vegetables. Allow them to take part in putting together lunches daily so they will get something they enjoy eating and it doesn’t end up wasted in the trash.
3. Avoid High Calorie Drinks: Avoid giving your kids high calorie sugar drinks such as sodas, juices, and energy drinks. Opt for calorie free water or organic low-fat milk.
4. The Main Thing: Sandwiches on 100% whole wheat bread rather than white (natural peanut butter and honey/banana, or natural deli meat sandwich (turkey, ham, chicken, or roast beef loaded with veggies- baby spinach, tomato, mustard) Leftovers from the night before or whole wheat tortillas with minimally processed deli meat, veggies, and low fat cream cheese.
5. Pack Some Color: Skip the highly processed snacks such as candy bars, chips, fruit snacks, muffins, and store bought cookies, cakes, and other desserts. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables and complement them with natural peanut butter, hummus. Whole wheat crackers, edamame (soybeans), homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit are some healthy options. Air popped popcorn, Greek yogurt, and unsweetened applesauce can provide some additional variety.
6. Gummy Vitamins: Of course you want your kids to eat a variety of foods to get their nutrients but I also want to make my kids are getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need especially Omega 3′s and Vitamin D which is why I have my kids take SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins and use the specifically formulated Kids Gummy Vitamins which are an All-In-One Gummy Vitamin that includes Omega 3′s + Vitamin D. My kids love them which makes it so much easier for them to remember to take.
Keeping tabs on what your kids are eating at lunch is important to make sure they are eating healthy and complete meals. It will help you ensure your kids aren’t skipping the lunch line and heading straight toward the vending machine. Bottom line: aim to nurture their bodies with pure, wholesome foods as close to nature as possible.
Disclosure: I work with the folks at SmartyPants.
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Have you joined in on the LaCroix 40 Can Challenge yet? If not, start today! Get off the diet and regular sodas with a refreshing and delicious mocktail that is virtually calorie-free! This is just one of many options for using LaCroix. LaCroix Sparkling water is 100% natural and contains NO artificial...
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It’s time for you to STOP drinking diet sodas, regular sodas, and other low-nutrition, calorie packed drinks once and for all. Instead of drinking these, it’s time for you to take the LaCroix Challenge by swapping out your usual diet or sugary beverage for a can of LaCroix. You CAN do...
It’s time for the Oscars and that means awards-watching parties for many! For your party this year don’t think you have to derail your diet to have fun. My favorite way to create “skinny” drinks is to use LaCroix Sparkling water as my mixer. LaCroix is calorie, sweetener, and...