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I often speak with patients about the importance of planning and prepping in order to stay on track with healthy eating. Keeping your kitchen and fridge well-stocked with nutritious foods that can be thrown together to create a quick meal is also key. This month I’m sharing my top ten staples to create simple, nutrient dense meals when you’re on-the-go.

 

  1. Pre-washed mixed greens. I like to alternate between spinach, kale, arugula and mixed greens, and nothing is easier than grabbing a couple handfuls to create a simple salad, adding it to a soup, or sautéing in a skillet with eggs.
  2. Hemp hearts. Hemp hearts are the edible interior of hemp seeds. They have a slightly nutty taste and contain more protein than the same serving of chia or flaxseeds. Add a couple tablespoons to your oatmeal, cereal, or on top of a salad to keep you feeling more satisfied and reduce cravings throughout the day.
  3. Canned beans. Beans are a great source of protein and fibre, and great to add to a salad to make a quick meal. Note: choose a BPA-free brand of canned beans, such as Eden Organic.
  4. Lentil pasta. Yep, that’s right, pasta made out of lentils instead of wheat! Lentil pasta is much higher in protein and fibre than wheat or brown rice pasta, and cooks quickly to make a healthy and easy meal. I like to serve it with pesto, cherry tomatoes and a side salad. Note: make sure you follow the package directions to avoid overcooking!
  5. Pesto. Maybe it’s my Italian heritage, but I always have a jar of pesto stocked in my fridge or freezer. I’ll either add it to lentil pasta (see above), or mix it with white beans to create a delicious salad with some cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and hemp hearts! Note: most pesto on the shelves in groceries stores contain dairy. Sunflower Kitchen offers a dairy-free option, available at Healthy Planet, Whole Foods, and in the health section of some groceries stores.
  6. Eggs. Eggs are so versatile, and a great source of protein, iron and b-vitamins. You can have eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner! When I don’t have time to make a lunch for the week, I’ll hard-boil some eggs to add to a salad.
  7. Tahini and sunflower seed butter. These seed “butters” are a good alternative to nut butters as they’re school-safe and less expensive than the other nut butters (almond, cashew, etc.). They can be spread on crackers, used in smoothies, and added to salad dressings. Tahini is an excellent source of selenium (important for thyroid function), and sunflower seeds are a great source of zinc (boosts our immune system), vitamin E and selenium.
  8. Raw, unsalted nuts. I always stock almonds, walnuts and cashews in my freezer. Nuts are highly nutritious, loaded with heart-healthy antioxidants, and help reduce blood sugar (good for patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes). They make a great mid-afternoon snack with a piece of fruit and tie you over when on-the-go.
  9. Toasted coconut slices. I recently discovered these last year and like to rotate them with nuts as part of my mid-afternoon snack. Coconut slices are high in fibre and a source of iron. Note: they’re also high in fat, so a little goes a long way! Make sure to choose brand without added sugar, such as Elan Organic Coconut Smiles (available at Costco).
  10. Dark Chocolate (minimum 70%). Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, dark chocolate (in moderation) has been shown to be good for the heart, improve mood and relieve stress. One to two squares are relatively low in sugar and a healthy go-to when I’m craving something sweet. Note: to get an extra health-kick from your chocolate, choose cacao instead of cocoa. Cacao is less processed and a much richer source of nutrients and antioxidants.