We all know the importance of a healthy diet. Eating wholesome, nutritious food helps you maintain a healthy weight, aids in preventing major health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease, and gives you the energy you need to tackle your busy days.
And it’s because of those busy days that it’s so important to have nutritious foods on hand at all times. When hunger strikes, you need to have good-for-you foods at the ready. Otherwise, you might be tempted to reach for fatty, sugary, or salty snack foods that offer you a quick hunger fix, but little in the way of nutrients.
Kristen Kizer, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital, concurs: “We often know the right foods to eat, but following through can be difficult, which is why it’s important to make healthy choices as convenient as possible.”
Here, Kizer shares the five nourishing foods she always keeps stocked in her kitchen. They’re all easy to prepare and oh-so-good.
1. Nut butters – Whether it’s peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter, these convenient spreads are chock full of heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats that help combat heart disease—all with a creamy texture and satisfying taste. Kizer likes them as a dip for apple slices or carrot or celery sticks, spread on whole-wheat toast, or mixed in plain Greek yogurt.
2. Beans – Packed with magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, and antioxidants, Kizer calls out these low-glycemic starches as one of the best sources of soluble fiber, which is known for lowering cholesterol. And with several grams of protein per half cup, they’re a filling addition to salads, soups, or side dishes. You can make a pot from dried beans or reach for convenient canned beans. Either way, beans are inexpensive and easy to store, making them a staple in Kizer’s kitchen.
3. Frozen vegetables – Kizer relies on frozen veggies when she’s not able to make it to the grocery store. Whether you can steam them directly in the bag, or decide to sauté them with some fresh garlic, it’s hard to beat their convenience: no washing, no chopping, no clean up!
4. Carrots – These colorful root veggies are Kizer’s personal favorite for so many reasons: Besides having over 100% of your daily RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin A, carrots are also a very good source of vitamins C and K, fiber, and potassium. In addition, they are very versatile, inexpensive, and long-lasting. For those who crave a crunchy snack, try carrots with some hummus. Want a lower-carb alternative to a baked sweet potato? Kizer suggests cooked carrots mashed with cinnamon and vanilla instead. Need to bulk up a soup? You guessed it, add carrots!
5. Apples – According to Kizer, it’s hard to find a faster, easier snack that travels as well. With studies tying apples to brain health, immune health, digestive health, decreased risk for certain cancers, and a slimmer waistline, these fresh, crisp fruits can be eaten alone or paired with nuts, light string cheese, or a few avocado slices. Apples are another great source of soluble fiber and vitamin C. Plus, they stay fresh longer than other fruits and don’t easily bruise in transit.
Provided by Dr. Oz The Good Life Magazine