5 Healthy Foods I Can't Live Without

Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

A few years ago, I overhauled the entire way that I look at food and I switched to eating pretty much only whole, minimally processed foods. Once I did that, I had to learn how to cook! (That’s the downside of whole foods, they don’t come already magically prepared in a dinner!)

In order to stick to this, I always like to have some "staple” foods in the house that I can quickly turn into a yummy meal, even if I don’t really feel like cooking. It helps beat the impulse to order takeout and is a much healthier alternative.

Below, I’m sharing 5 healthy foods that I always keep around the house, along with some ways that I prepare them.

  1. Old-Fashioned Oats

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest, most versatile foods around. The best thing about is that it is fairly low-calorie but super nutritious and filling. It can be dressed up in a variety of ways. (Check out some of my oatmeal recipes here and here).

If you think about it, oats are a grain, they have a fairly plain flavor by themselves, so while we typically pair them with sweet foods in the U.S. (fruit, sugar, etc) oats can also be paired with savory foods. For example, sometimes I make them and add olive oil, lemon zest, thyme and salt. For a quick, hearty dinner, sometimes I throw a can of diced tomatoes into a pan with some chickpeas and my favorite herb spices (such as basil and oregano) and top my oatmeal with that mixture and a little drizzle of some nice balsamic vinegar. It’s delicious and healthy!

2. Bananas

Bananas not only taste good, but since they already come nestled within the natural packaging of their peel, they’re super easy to grab on the go. I like to keep fresh bananas around to eat plain or throw into my oatmeal. If I don’t get a chance to eat them all and they start to get too brown, I remove the peels, cut them in half, and throw them into a ziplock bag to freeze. From there, they become one of the main ingredients for frozen smoothies (see my green smoothie recipe here!).

3. Spinach

We all know spinach is a super food, but it’s also so versatile! I always keep a bag of fresh spinach leaves in my fridge to throw into smoothies, sauté  with eggs, or to use as a quick side for dinner. Mix together a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, dried basil and oregano to create a delicious dressing to pour over spinach leaves and make a beautiful and tasty simple side-dish. You can even top with whatever veggies you have in the fridge.

4. Olive oil

Fat is a necessary component of a healthy, balanced diet. And just because fat is present in some of the most unhealthy foods, it doesn’t mean that it should be shunned from your diet. Olive oil is a healthy fat, and has a lot of antioxidants in it. Use it to sauté  veggies for a quick side dish, mix it with vinegar and lemon juice for a quick salad dressing, add it to oatmeal to create a savory base, or drizzle it over fried eggs as a substitute for butter. The key with olive-oil is to pick something that is authentic and high-quality. Beware of cheap oils parading as pure olive oil. They might be mixed with other oils. Look for something that is extra-virgin and cold-pressed. More tips on how to choose the best olive oil here.

5. Eggs

Eggs pack a lot of nutrition, including protein. They’re another versatile food that can be quickly prepared and used in a variety of ways. Sometimes, I hard boil a batch of eggs and bring one or two to eat as part of lunch, I also will eat them for dinner a lot in a frittata. I have two different kinds of frittatas that I make often. In one, I will first sauté in a small pan some diced onion, sliced mushrooms and chopped bell pepper on the stove top. I then add a couple of beaten eggs to that and cover on medium heat. Once it’s cooked, I’ll turn off the heat and sprinkle a small amount of cheddar cheese on top, recovering the pan to let the cheese melt. I then serve that in a whole wheat wrap for dinner. If I want to cut calories, I’ll make an egg white frittata. I’ll sauté  a couple cloves of garlic and then pour in 3 lightly beaten egg whites. I then sprinkle on top a handful of fresh herbs including chopped dill, mint and parsley, and add a sprinkle of feta, then cover the pan to let it cook. This can be eaten plain or sandwiched within whole wheat pita bread. It’s delicious!