By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD | @
You may think that healthy eating requires a ton of time, effort and energy. But what if I told you that there are certain things you can keep in the house to make healthy eating easier? These 10 items are simple things that every family should have in their household to make whipping up a healthy meal a breeze.
1. Olive Oil
Rich in monounsaturated fats, aka “good fats”, olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to lowering your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Olive oil can be used in place of butter in any recipe or to whip up a healthy salad dressing. But oil is very high in calories, so try to stick to less than 3 tablespoons per day.
2. Fresh or dried herbs
Herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill, rosemary, thyme, basil and sage are a wonderful, salt-free way to add flavor and nutrients to your home cooking. While I suggest buyin fresh herbs during each visit to the supermarket, I realize that it’s much more economical to keep dried herbs in your pantry. To get all the nutrients of fresh herb, try drying your own. Leave fresh herbs out on a plate for several days until they dry up; store them in a plastic baggie.
3. Fruit bowl
One of the easiest ways to get your kids to eat fruit is to leave it out on the table in a big bowl. Research has shown that people are much more likely to reach for snacks in their line of sight. By keeping a fruit bowl out in the kitchen and storing junky snacks away in a cabinet, you are enticing your family to go for the apple rather than the cookie.
Kids love smoothies, and smoothies are packed with nutritious fruits and veggies. Prep your smoothies ahead of time by placing 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of spinach and ½ unpeeled banana in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When you’re ready to make the smoothie, place the contents of the ag into the blender, add ½ cup of vanilla yogurt and 1 cup of milk or water and blend.
A whisk is one of my favorite no-fuss kitchen tools because I use it to make homemade salad dressings. Store bought dressings are filled with additives, preservatives, extra salt and extra sugar. Instead, make your own by whisking together 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of vinger. Voila—you’ve got a homemade dressing in seconds.
6. Dried whole grains
Dried whole grains, like quinoa, brown rice, farro, bulgur or sorghum, are great to have on hand to throw together a healthy dinner in a flash. Whole grains contain fiber and protein, both of which keep you fuller longer and help with weight management. Mix any cooked whole grain with a few veggies, a protein (like chicken, fish or beans), fresh herbs or spices and you’ve got a delicious meal in a bowl any night of the week.
Along the same lines as whole grains, dried or canned beans are a wonderful pantry staple that can be mixed with almost anything to create a hearty and satisfying meal. Packed with fiber and protein, beans are an inexpensive and healthy ingredient to always keep on hand. It’s important to note that canned beans are packed in salt, so they should be rinsed and drained before serving.
8. Frozen veggies
People often think that frozen veggies don’t provide the same nutrients as fresh veggies, which is completely untrue. Frozen veggies are picked at the peak of freshness and then frozen, so they contain the same nutrients as fresh veggies. Frozen veggies can come in handy when your fridge is looking bare. Add them to soups, smoothies or whole grain dishes.
9. Fresh spices
I say “fresh” because spices do have an unstated expiration date. According to the spice company McCormick, these are the suggested shelf lives of spices:
Ground Spices – 3 to 4 years
Whole Spices – 4 years
Dried, Leafy Herbs – 1 to 3 years
If you haven’t replaced your spices for 10 years, it’s time for an upgrade.
10. Family meal time
You got me—this isn’t really an “item”, but rather something that I encourage all families to implement at least a few times per week. Eating meals as a family encourages healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food. When children see parents eating healthy foods, they are more likely to try that foods themselves!
A-Game Sports’ nutritionist can speak with your child and work with you to setup a unique individual nutrition plan to reach all of your health goals. Set up a nutrition consultation today.
Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and food and nutrition writer, specializing in sports nutrition and adolescent nutrition education. Natalie has worked with many prestigious organizations, such as Hospital for Special Surgery, the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, NY Yankees Baseball Camps and NYC Charter Schools. She has also written for many food and nutrition publications, such as Women’s Running, Spright, Toby Amidor Nutrition, The Active Times, SuperKids Nutrition and Food & Nutrition Magazine, and she has been quoted in Women’s Health Magazine and Men’s Health.