A well-stocked kitchen is the first step toward tastier cooking. And I’m a big believer that if you have a few healthy staple ingredients on hand at all times, you’ll have no excuse to eat better. Let me introduce you to a few ingredients and foods dietitians love, and you’ll always find in my kitchen.
I use all of these at least weekly, if not daily, and they’re great staples for healthy eating. And yes, I have been known to panic if I unexpectedly run out of any of them!
I’ll admit I never understood the fascination with oatmeal – couldn’t get past the look and texture – until I realized it’s all about what you add to it. That, and the fact that it reduced my cholesterol by about 15 points, sealed the deal for me.
Now, it’s one of the foods you’ll always find in this dietitian’s kitchen. In fact, I eat oatmeal almost every day for breakfast. Whether it’s Pina Colada overnight oats mixed with pineapple coconut and macadamias, or baked with berries and walnuts and topped off with a scoop of Greek yogurt, oatmeal is the starting point for a perfectly balanced meal that holds me for hours.
Remember when Chobani first introduced most of us to this wonderful food? What did we ever do without this protein-packed staple? Greek yogurt is definitely on the list of foods dietitians love. I keep at least 2 large containers of nonfat plain Greek yogurt in my fridge each week. A spoonful of jam makes it a sweet snack, or some herb mix turns it into a fabulous, savory, high protein dip for veggies and crackers. Check out my post on more ways to use Greek yogurt.
I add them to my oatmeal and yogurt because I love the antioxidants, and because sometimes-fresh berries are just too darned expensive. Plus, I never feel the need to overdo it by eating three pounds of berries in a weekend before they turn moldy. Frozen fruit has an amazing, long shelf-life.
Muir Glen Organic Canned Tomatoes
I haven’t bought a jar of spaghetti sauce or any other brand of canned tomatoes, for years, since I read that these are a Cook’s Illustrated taste test pick.
Their taste is always perfect, never tinny or acidic. My favorites are the crushed tomatoes with basil (perfect pasta or pizza sauce) or fire-roasted tomatoes, which makes a great base for salsa, tortilla soup, or chili.
These are the base for my 3- ingredient homemade tomato sauce that I use on absolutely everything Italian!
Its popularity inspired its own Facebook page, and even The Sriracha Cookbook, which is chock full of imaginative ways to use the sauce.
I’ve heard some people love this spicy Asian chili sauce so much, that they travel with it. Sriracha sauce (aka Rooster sauce because of the rooster on the label) is a secret ingredient for chefs everywhere, because it zips up the flavor of almost any food from deviled eggs to sautéed greens to mac and cheese.
Stonefire Mini Naan Flatbread
Naan is an Indian flatbread that is marvelously soft and chewy and is perfect for wrapping a sandwich or grilling a Panini.
I literally never leave Costco without a package of Stonefire mini naan flatbread They’re totally perfect for a quick and easy pizza crust. Just spread some of that homemade tomato sauce, pile on the veggies, and pop it on the grill for a Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza.
Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
LOVE, LOVE this seasoning mix from TJs, and based on reviews from my colleagues, I think we can safely include this one on the list of foods dietitians love! And don’t worry if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, because you can also buy it on Amazon! It’s a perfect blend of garlic, onion, sea salt, and sesame seeds. And it really does taste like the bagel.
I have to confess I have a huge spice cabinet but sometimes when I just can’t decide how to flavor my vegetables, salmon, chicken, etc. this stuff does it for me every time. And if you’re making crispy roasted potatoes… OMG! You can’t go wrong. My kids know they can expect a bottle as a Christmas stocking stuffer 🙂
I love cheese, but as any nutritionist will tell you, it’s not something to eat a lot of So I use it in moderation, as a condiment. I love Gorgonzola Dolce (an Italian blue cheese) on mixed greens or fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on my pasta Bolognese.
However, cheese can get moldy before I end up using it all, so I use a vacuum sealer to package the leftovers for the freezer. If you try this, beware -hard, block cheese tends to freeze and hold up well, while soft cheeses will change texture when thawed. Still perfect for a cheese sauce though…
Do you have any favorite foods that you can’t live without?