In my kitchen I have a few food staples that I always have. Week after week, I end up going to the supermarket and always buying these foods listed below. Along with other ingredients I am able to make many nutritious meals from scratch to keep me happy, healthy and illness free.
Eggs are such a versatile food and are among one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs contain many essential vitamins such as Vitamin A, B5, B12,, B2 and D. They are also a good source of protein containing all the essential amino acids and a good source of omega-3s. Always try to buy free range or organic eggs to get the best benefits from your eggs, they are more likely to be more nutrient dense. Remember whatever the chicken eats affects their egg produce, so you will be eating whatever the chicken has eaten. Eggs are great to eat for a healthy breakfast or at any time of day and can be made various ways to keep things interesting.
2. Chopped Tomatoes
Chopped Tomatoes is a staple everyone should have stored in their kitchen cupboards. They are cheap, versatile and have a long sale by date. Lots of quick, easy healthy dishes can be made with a carton of chopped tomatoes. If you are ever stuck for something to make with the few ingredients you have, a quick pasta sauce, curry, chilli or even shakshuka can be rustled up using a humble carton of chopped tomatoes. By having cartons stored ready to go will help prevent buying convenience food and help you to cook from scratch more.
3. Cartons of beans, chickpeas and lentils
Again like chopped tomatoes, have cartons of different bean, chickpeas and lentils stocked in your cupboard means you are able to cook many quick and easy dishes without popping out to the shop for something less healthy. Soaking these types of pulses can be time consuming and you would have to plan your meals. Having cartons stocked makes pulses convenient to eat and they have many great healthy benefits. Eating beans and legumes on a regular basis can help reduce cholesterol, decrease and keep blood sugar levels as well as increase the healthy bacteria in your gut. Being a great source of vegetarian protein, beans and legumes can be used in many dishes like bolognese, chilli and curries as well as hummus, dips and in salads.
Broccoli is a staple that I always have in my fridge and I try to have some most days with my meals. Broccoli is packed full of nutrients including Vitamin A, C, K, B9, potassium, phosphorus and selenium. It also contains many antioxidants as is a good source of fibre. Trying to include more green vegetables into your diet will help improve your health as they are packed full of vitamins and minerals.
Like broccoli, spinach is a very healthy leafy green vegetable loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. It is a good source of fibre and is also an excellent source of iron. Like broccoli, spinach is a staple I always have in the fridge and try to eat most days. Spinach can be added to many meals like stir fries, in an omelette or a curry. It is easy to steam or shallow fry or eaten raw in a salad on the side of a meal.
6. Nuts and Seeds pockets
Eating nuts and seeds have great nutritional benefits. They are a good source of protein, healthy fats and fibre as well as vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium, however nuts and seeds are a very energy dense food. This means they are high in fat and calories so portion size is really important. Having your nuts and seeds in portioned pockets helps to keep control of you nut and seed intake. Having one packet a day helps regulate your intake of nuts and seeds without overeating.
7. Miso Paste
Miso paste is a Japanese fermented soybean paste containing millions of beneficial bacteria helping to improve gut health. Miso paste is something I love to add to my dishes to give them a richer more dense flavour as well as added nutritional benefit to my gut. Miso can be made traditionally as a soup, but can also be added to stews, chilli, curries and stir fries. When buying miso, try to find the unpasteurised, live fresh miso in the fridge section of some health stores. Tideford organics red miso paste is my favourite.
I love bananas, they are a good snack choice to pick up on the go as well as adding to your breakfast or making a healthy dessert. Bananas are rich in nutrients, fibre and can help stabilise blood sugar levels. I love to add a mashed bananas into my pancake mix or in a smoothie. A frozen banana, blended with some cacao powder or strawberries makes a delicious 'nice-cream' dessert.
9. Frozen berries
Berries are among one of the healthiest foods a person can eat. They are packed full of antioxidants, can help improve blood sugar and insulin levels, high in nutrients, fibre and can fight against inflammation. Having frozen berries stocked in your fridge makes it really convenient to add them to your porridge, yogurt or smoothie. If you are looking for a healthy dessert, frozen berries are really convenient to whip up a simple berry crumble topped with banana 'nice cream'.
10. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are quite funny things which grew popularity with the health conscious a few years ago. Chia seeds are tiny little black and white seeds which come from the Salvia hispanica plant, related to the mint plant. Chia seeds are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nearly all carbohydrate in chia seeds is fibre and they are one of the highest protein sources which is plant based. My favourite thing to do with chia seeds is to soak them overnight in coconut milk, then top them with frozen berries in a jar for a breakfast on the go. Chia seeds when soaked in a liquid create almost a sort of gel around them. The seeds are also tasteless, making them good to help thicken up sauces, stews and porridge.
11. Herb and Spice rack
When it comes to cooking from scratch, having a well stocked herb and spice rack is essential. Herbs and spices are used in many recipes to help add flavour. They have a long sale by date and are easily on hand to add to your dishes. Many herbs and spices have good health benefits such as cinnamon which can help stabilise blood sugar levels or turmeric which has anti-inflammatory properties. Different combinations of herb and spices are used in many cuisines around the world. They add variety to your food and keeps your taste palette interesting.
Oats are one of my favourite grains. They are nutritious, packed full of soluble fibre and are a slow releasing carbohydrate, meaning they keep you feeling full for longer. Having porridge in the morning will hopefully keep you sated till lunchtime. Apart from porridge, oats can be used in many healthier baked treats such as banana bread or granola bars.