Yesterday, I sent you shopping for new dry goods. Today, it’s more perishable items. Many of these are still long-lasting, so you don’t have to scoop sloppy brown lettuce out of your vegetable bin every week. Remember, when you have good, healthy, whole food on hand, it’s much easier to eat healthfully.
- Vegetables: Although fresh is often better, having frozen vegetables, especially spinach, broccoli and green peas, on hand means you always have a vegetable option for meals. Fresh produce spoils quickly and is sometimes ripened in trucks, rather than on the plant/tree. Toss frozen veggies into curries, stir fries, omelets or steam for a quick side dish. Choose organic.
- Edamame: An unprocessed soy product that is a source of protein. Go for organic so you don’t get genetically-modified options. Microwave a few with water for a quick snack.
- Organic chicken, pasture-raised beef or wild-caught salmon: Having protein in the freezer that you can quickly dethaw for a quick dinner is crucial. Freeze in single-serve packages so it thaws faster and cooks more quickly.
- Frozen fruits – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and tart cherries are ideal. Fresh berries are expensive, highly perishable and seasonal. Frozen berries make a good snack or dessert and can be added to smoothies, hot cereal or organic Greek yogurt. Make sure it’s natural fruit, not sweetened.
- Lemons and limes: These citrus fruits are perfect for salad dressings or to flavor steamed veggies or fish. Squeeze into water to benefit from their detoxifying properties.
- Butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows: A source of CLA, conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fatty acid that can help prevent heart disease and diabetes or help with the symptoms once these conditions develop. Skip highly-processed butters and butter substitutes.
- Carrots and celery: Although they are bought fresh, they last forever in the fridge and can be used as a base for stews, soups and fresh juices. You can also eat them raw. Carrots are high in beta carotene while celery, a relative of parsley, has anti-cancer compounds.
- Eggs: Look for organic, pasture-raised. Eggs are a good source of protein and the yolks contain healthy fats and the anti-oxidant lutein. You can make them into any meal – scramble in coconut oil for breakfast, chop hardboiled ones over salad at lunch or cook with vegetables into a frittata for dinner.
- Greek Yogurt: Look for organic versions from grass-fed cows. Choose plain – fruit versions have lots of sugar OR artificial sweeteners. If you get it from grass-fed cows, don’t stress about the fat content. Greek yogurt is a high source of protein and digestion-regulating probiotics. Look for 24-hour cultured whenever possible.
- Organic milk from pastured/grass-fed cows or raw milk. If you are lactose intolerant or prefer not to drink milk, go for unsweetened almond or coconut milk – watch for carageenan, which can cause problems for some people.
Yesterday’s list…and today’s…are gluten-free. Tailor them to your specific needs — if you’re vegan, opt for organic tempeh and tofu, for example, and subtract the animal proteins, eggs and dairy. See what happens if you stick the the list for a week — see what you miss, and what you don’t. Be creative and you may just surprise yourself with the new habits you create.
Filed under - Nutrition
The New Year inevitably brings resolutions, even if they’re just to stop eating like you have been the past 2 weeks. You can’t really make changes, though, without the raw materials. Revise your pantry. Not sure how? Here’s your road map.
THE ESSENTIALs for a Clean, Healthy Pantry
Use this as a tool so you can shop and create meals from healthy ingredients any time. A stocked pantry enables you to make good choices most of the time and sets you up for success. How you stock this pantry depends a little on your goals and needs, but some foods are quite universal.
Pantry essentials are foods that you can use to toss together almost any meal and usually last for a while – a week or longer. They may require an initial investment, but many you may purchase in bulk and can thus make last for a long time.
Dry Goods Pantry
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This heart-healthy oil is good for light sautéing. Emulsify it with balsamic or lemon juice for a quick salad dressing. Combine olive oil with chopped garlic and dried oregano as a marinade for fish or chicken.
- Coconut oil: Anti-microbial and high in lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride, coconut oil supports good health and weight. It has a high smoke point and doesn’t degrade when heated – so it’s ideal for sautéing, stir frying and baking. Add a teaspoon or two to smoothies to up your healthy fat intake and help with satiation.
Nuts and Seeds
- Seeds: Have a supply of chia, flax (grind before use), sunflower and pumpkin seeds on hand. Store them in the freezer (even though their listed as pantry items) to prevent rancidity. These are a source of protein, calcium (chia), fiber and healthy fats. Sunflower seeds are a source of zinc and pumpkin seeds are a source of magnesium. Use as snacks, toss into smoothies or top salads with them.
- Nut butter: Organic ground peanut butter with no additives is okay, but experiment with other types of nut butter such as raw almond, walnut or cashew butter. The raw butter hasn’t been subjected to the roasting process that may alter and damage the polyunsaturated fats that nuts contain and that are more vulnerable to oxidation.
- Nuts: Almost all nuts are good options, but focus specifically on raw almonds, walnuts and macadamias. Roast them yourself (just like 3-5 minutes in a 350-degree oven); they’re fresher, taste better, don’t have added oils and are cheaper. Ensure they don’t contain added sugars and salts. Use them as snacks, to top salads or pureed into smoothies.
- Beans: Dried beans that you soak yourself are superior, but having a few cans on hand for quick options is helpful. A great source of protein, canned beans make an inexpensive and, in the case of canned, instant meal. Used right out of the can, black beans work well in tacos, quesadillas, in chilis and as a salad topper. Quickly reheat them with choped onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander and star anise and serve over rice for a quick and complete dinner. White cannelini beans taste great in stews, and make a quick dinner when combined with broccoli, Parmesan cheese and tomatoes. Toss up a curry with canned chickpeas, garam masala, canned diced tomatoes – serve over rice with mango chutney or whip together quickly into delicious hummus. When choosing cans, look for organic and BPA-free cans.
- Canned fish: Sardines, chunk-light tuna and salmon are perfect for salad toppings or to mash into a “fish” burger. Look for troll caught and water-packed – as well as BPA-free cans.
- Dried Lentils: Unlike other dried beans, lentils don’t require a long soak time. Use them to make soup, a salad with chopped onion, peppers and tomato topped with lemon and olive oil, puree into a dip or simmer in water (about 20 minutes) with celery, garlic and cumin and serve with quinoa for a quick meal.
- Canned, diced tomatoes: Use to create homemade tomato sauce, chili, stew and braises. Add to soups or roasted vegetables for a quick ragout. Look for organic brands with BPA-free cans.
- Chicken or vegetable broth: make a quick soup with chicken breasts and frozen vegetables and quinoa. Add to stews, deepen the flavor of sauces, use to finish sautéed greens or poach vegetables. Choose low-sodium and go for the boxes, rather than cans.
- Vinegar: Balsamic and white wine vinegar may be used for marinades, salad dressings and sauces.
- Spices: dry oregano, ground cumin, curry powder, turmeric, paprika, black pepper, sea salt and chili powder. You can make dozens of dishes with any combination of these spices. They work well on meats, poultry, fish and vegetables. Most of these spices have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Remember to replace spices every 3 months or so to ensure their freshness.
- Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce): Use it to make a quick marinade for steaks/chicken with scallions and garlic or to season a quick stir fry.
- Garlic, onions and shallots: These alium vegetables contain phytonutrients that protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are also a base for all stews and sauces and add flavor to soups.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a pseudo-grain – it’s actually a seed. It offers a lot of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and the amino acid lysine. Use it like rice, but with a nutritional bonus.
- Rice: Use in moderation, but it is an easily digested source of carbohydrates. If it encourages you to enjoy curry dishes (full of veggies and anti-inflammatory turmeric), have up to a ½ cup at one meal several times per week. Brown or white is OK.
- Sweet potatoes or winter squash: Sources of vitamin A and fiber, these starchy vegetables may be made into soup, “fries” or mashes.
While your storing all these goodies, ditch the chips, cereal bars, processed cereals, white flour crackers, candy….don’t make excuses to keep it on hand. Don’t overanalyze…just let that stuff go.
Filed under - Nutrition
It’s often said sleep is essential to weight loss. Studies show getting less than the requisite 7 to 9 hours per night correlates with bigger bellies. It increases your output of the hunger hormone ghrelin, makes you less diligent about the foods you choose and increases your desire for comfort from ice cream, mac n cheese and fat. Your body perceives lack of sleep as stress, causing it to pump out the hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol also encourages your body to store fat — especially in your middle.
It’s true. I have my hungry days for sure after a big training day, but some are seemingly inexplicable. Today is one of them – following a cruddy night of sleep from Sunday to Monday. Now, the day after the day after – Tuesday – I’m paying for it.
This morning, I woke to my alarm (never have my alarm go off, I’m always up before it) and stumbled to teach without putting any food in my belly. Upon my return, I had 3 eggs, spinach, cheese, sundried tomatoes. Still hungry. Had a second breakfast 30 minutes later of gluten-free cinnamon-raisin bread and peanut butter. I was still hungry. I am still hungry – so I had half of a Quest bar too. Then I declared myself done. For now.
Frankly, I know my body is just tired and seeking out energy. I’ll feed it lunch – but at some point, I don’t want to make myself sick either. A nap is in my future. Hopefully it’ll calm down my hungry day. Lesson learned…again. When the dog wakes you at 3am, go back to bed. Don’t use it as an excuse to fit in the missed swim workout from the day before.
Think before your skimp on sleep to fit in your workout — are you doing yourself more harm than good? Can you hit the pillow sooner the night before? Can you carve out a lunchtime workout or an evening one?
Filed under - Motivation, Nutrition