Sometimes the difference between eating healthy food and eating junk food comes down to what is in front of you, so we are bringing you 5 staple items to always have in the pantry to help you stay healthy. It may seem simple, but really- you won't eat junk food if it isn't available to you! Having easy, convenient healthy foods that are accessible at home whenever you need them is one of the best steps you can take toward living a healthier lifestyle all the time! Here are our top 5 items to have on hand in your house.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a bit of an acquired taste, but has so many amazing health benefits. It is known to regulate blood sugar levels, enhance weight loss, lower cholesterol, improve skin health, and boost gut health, to name a few! Some people like to take a shot of it each morning, but our preference is to mix it with hot water and honey and drink it like tea! The water and honey calm down the vinegar flavor and you still receive all the health benefits with this method.
2. Different Types of Cooking Oil
There are a million options in the grocery store when it comes to different types of cooking oils- avocado oil, olive oil, walnut oil, ghee... And we think you need them all! Or at least a few of them. You might be wondering why it is important to have several different types of oils in your pantry to cook with. Well, when an oil gets too hot, or reaches it's "smoking point", the fats in the oil begin to break down. This causes the oil to smoke, releasing toxic fumes and free radicals that are harmful to your body, turning your "healthy" olive oil into an extremely unhealthy option. This is why it is important to cook with different oils for different temperatures, and be very conscious of how much heat you expose them to. Here is a great guide to what oil you should use at what temperature.
3. Healthy Grains and Seeds: Rolled Oats, Quinoa, Chia Seeds, and Hemp Seeds
Healthy grains and seeds can make it easy to add nutritional value to any meal. Rolled oats, for instance, can be made into easy overnight oats or thrown into a fruit smoothie for some extra fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Quinoa is one of the most protein rich foods you can eat and contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains! It is a great substitute for rice and can be made as a side dish or put on top of a salad. Chia seeds are also a great source of nutrients and antioxidants. They're full of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, and can be made into chia pudding or sprinkled on top of a smoothie for breakfast! Finally, hemp seed are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are a great source of protein and contain high levels of vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. Add these to a salad or smoothie for an extra punch of nutritional value!
4. Nut Butter: Peanut, Almond or Cashew?
Nut butters (think peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter) contain important nutrients like protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Though they are a high source of nutrients, they are also quite high in calories so the only caveat here is to use them in moderation. Now with so many different variations on nut butters it can be hard to choose just one, so look for the kinds with zero added sugar and only two main ingredients: nuts and salt. You can also try your hand at making your own, if you're up for it!
5. Dried Beans and Lentils
Dried beans and lentils are an inexpensive and healthy alternative to processed, canned items that are often full of sodium! They are rich in micro-nutrients including potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Beans and Lentils are a great source of protein, especially in a plant based diet. Lentils in particular have been known to lower cholesterol, improve heart and digestive health, and increase energy. They also aide in weight loss so toss them on top of a salad or turn them into a cozy soup depending on the time of year!