I discovered many new ingredients while participating in the FEEL IT, SEE IT, SHARE IT NEW YEAR CHALLENGE this past December (and I loved the experience so much that I’m doing the challenge again this month with my husband).
I decided to put together a list of my favorite, most versatile staple ingredients and list the benefits and uses because it’s important to know exactly what we're putting into our bodies. Also, I love the idea of shopping for less and using a few basic staples in many different ways over the course of a week or two.
Here are my favorite staples that I always like to have in my kitchen:
1. Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Benefits: Excellent source of calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. Contains probiotic cultures, is lower in lactose, and has twice the protein content of regular yogurts.
Uses: Paired with fruit and topped with berries for breakfast, can be added to a marinade for a creamier consistency, mix in ice cream or sorbet, add to soups or salad dressings.
Favorite Brands: Fage, Chobani
2. Unsweetened Almond Milk
Benefits: Naturally rich in vitamins and minerals especially vitamin E, low-carb and lower in calories than regular milk, dairy free which is great for vegans or those with lactose sensitivities.
Uses: Splash it over your cereal instead of regular milk, add to coffee or tea, add to smoothies, use in soups to get a ‘creamy’ yet still healthy consistency, mix in ice cream or sorbet.
Favorite Brands: My all-time favorite is Califia Farms, but I also like Almond Breeze and Silk.
3. Almond Butter
Benefits: Good source of healthy monounsaturated fats associated with lowering the risk of heart disease, and almonds contain antioxidant properties from Vitamin E which also helps to lower cholesterol.
Uses: Add to smoothies to keep you fuller longer as it is a great source of protein, spread on top of sprouted bread like Ezekiel bread for a filling snack, add to sauces or marinades to top lean proteins.
Favorite Brands: Fresh Direct brand, Justin’s, or you can even make your own!
Benefits: Filled with high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and good fats.
Uses: I love creating scrambles of 1 egg + 2-3 egg whites for breakfast, one hardboiled egg + crudité is a healthy and energy-boosting snack, and eggs can be used in smoothies.
Favorite Brands: I don’t favor a particular brand of eggs, but I do like large organic brown eggs and Crystal Farms All Whites 100% Liquid Egg Whites.
5. Sprouted Bread
Benefits: The sprouting process breaks down proteins and carbs and helps make sprouted grain food low glycemic and easier to digest, also retaining a great amount of vitamins and nutrients.
Uses: Can have one slice with an egg/egg white scramble, in an open faced turkey sandwich, and topped with almond or peanut butter and slices of cucumber or carrots.
Favorite Brands: Food for Life, Ezekiel 4:9 Bread
Benefits: Low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and calcium.
Uses: Wilted spinach as a healthy side for dinner, mixed in an egg/egg white scramble, leafy green salad topped with other non-starchy veggies and a lean protein.
Favorite Brands: I don’t favor one particular brand but love buying large boxes of organic baby spinach because you need a lot to make wilted spinach - it goes quickly!
7. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Benefits: Great source of lean, low-fat protein that fills you up for longer and has less saturated fat than most red meats.
Uses: Sliced on top of bed of greens, main source of protein for lunch or dinner with a non-starchy veggie side and a tiny bit of a healthy carb.
Favorite Brands: I don’t favor a particular brand but always go for boneless and skinless because it cooks faster and is easier to eat.
These staples are sure to keep you fuller longer and have a ton of nutritional benefits. I make sure they are in every single one of my weekly Fresh Direct orders because I know I’ll use them at several different times in a variety of ways throughout the week - cooking healthy and smart is a LOT easier when your kitchen is stocked with the right foods from the get-go.
What are your favorite foods that you always need in the kitchen? Shoot me a note with your favorite staples and recipes at firstname.lastname@example.org!