We all know the U.S. has a weight problem. Most understand the problem stems primarily from two things: eating too much and moving too little. As a fitness professional, my work revolves around the latter. But all of us in the fitness industry know, without controlling the former, all the exercise in the world isn’t going to solve this problem. In fact, for the obese, the latest research reveals controlling diet is more important than exercising when it comes to weight loss. It makes sense – it takes about an hour of jogging to burn 500 calories, yet a person can shave 410 calories from her daily diet by simply cutting out a super-sized soft drink. It’s no surprise, then, that family, friends and clients often ask me for tips on eating healthy.
I have two simple rules:
Rule #1: Prepare what you eat a minimum of 70% each week. It is extremely difficult to control what is going into your food and how much food ends up on your plate (or in your cup) if someone else is preparing it and portioning it out. This includes not only meals but everything else you consume, like coffee and snacks.
Rule #2: Purchase food in as close to whole form as possible. This means avoiding boxes and cans as much as possible. And, when you do purchase packaged food, the ingredient should contain only a handful of low-processed items.
Both rules are much easier for the average family to follow if meals can be assembled relatively quickly and easily and the items that go into the meals are affordable and readily available. So, a well-stocked pantry and fridge are essential for the fit family. This week, I’ll provide a peek into the staples in my pantry and fridge. Next week, I’ll share with you some of my favorite, family-friendly, original recipes using these items.
The goal is to always have the items listed below on-hand. Then, each week, you’ll purchase your highly perishable items like unprocessed meats, fish, whole grain breads, dairy and fresh fruit and vegetables. The fresh items paired with the pantry items can be used to create a large variety of healthy meals in a short amount of time. When it comes to fresh produce, purchase what’s in season. This will ensure that the produce is flavorful and reasonably priced.
There are times throughout the year when in-season, fresh produce is limited. During those times, it is perfectly acceptable to utilize frozen and canned produce. Therefore, you’ll find frozen and some canned produce listed. These were selected because they freeze or can well with very little or no additional salt, sugars or fats.
Essential Pantry Items
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: get good quality oil and use it for dressing salads and vegetable dishes
- Canola Oil: great for cooking because it has a high smoking point, neutral flavor, inexpensive & almost as much heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as olive oil
- Cooking Spray: canola/olive oil based
- Dijon Mustard & Canola Oil Mayonnaise
- Vinegars: Examples: Red & White Wine Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar & Rice Wine Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar: invest as much as you’re able in a bottle of good quality (certified Modena), aged balsamic vinegar
- Worcestershire Sauce & Soy Sauce: lots of bold flavor (umami) packed into a mere tablespoon
- Nut/Seed Butters: healthy nut butters should have only two ingredients – nuts/seeds & salt
- Broths or Stocks (chicken, beef, fish and/or vegetable)
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Jarred Roasted Peppers, Sun-dried Tomatoes and/or Artichoke Hearts
- Canned Tomatoes & Tomato Paste
- Canned Beans – Examples: Cannellini, Black, Kidney, Pink, Navy, Garbanzo/Chickpeas
- Canned Pineapple & Mandarin Oranges: packed in their own juice, not in syrup
- Dried Fruits: Examples: Cranberries, Figs, Plums & Raisins
- Brown Rice
- Whole Grain Pasta
- Other Whole Grains: Examples: Faro, Barley, Oats, Quinoa, Spelt, Wild Rice
- Baking Items: Whole Wheat Flour, Unbleached All Purpose Flour, Corn Flour, Raw Nuts/Seeds (store in fridge to keep fresh), Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, Unsweetened Cocoa, Corn Starch, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Pure Vanilla Extract
- Seasonings, Spices & Dried Herbs: Examples: Salt (Iodized Table & Flake Sea), Black Pepper, Curry Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Smoked Paprika, Cumin, Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Ground Mustard, Bay Leaves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and sodium-free herb blends (such has Mrs Dash)
- Fresh Onions & Garlic: store in a cool, dry place
- Bananas: yes, these go bad quickly – but overripe bananas have a myriad of great uses
Plain Greek Yogurt
- Lemons & Limes
- Carrots & Celery
- Grass Fed Butter: salted for cooking & unsalted for baking
- Vegetables: Examples: Carrots, Broccoli, Spinach
- Fruit: Examples: Berries, Cherries, Mangos, Peaches
- Fresh Ginger (peel and grate as needed)
Your homework assignment is to get stocked up. Tune in next week for some easy, yummy, healthy recipes sure to make everyone in your house fit and happier.