Nutrition

Top 20 healthy ingredients to have on hand

By: Cara Rosenbloom, RD

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

Top 20 healthy ingredients to have on hand

By: Cara Rosenbloom, RD

This story was originally titled "Best Buys" in the Live Right Now special issue. You can purchase the Live Right Now special issue here.

Keeping healthy ingredients on hand makes it easy to prepare quick, nutritious weeknight meals. Our registered dietitian, Cara Rosenbloom, compiled a list of 20 healthy staples that should always be in your kitchen. If not, make sure they’re on your next shopping list. With these essential ingredients, your well-stocked kitchen will provide you with endless recipe inspiration.

In the freezer
• Frozen berries

Perishable, delicate berries stand up well in the freezer. these antioxidant superpowers can be added to smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt to help reduce the risk of developing cancer.

• Skinless chicken breast
Chicken is high in niacin, a B vitamin that helps the body convert food into energy. Stick with white meat, which has double the niacin of dark meat.

• Mixed vegetables
Flash-frozen at the peak of their freshness to retain vitamins, plain frozen vegetables with no added salt are perfect for quick stir-fries.

• Nuts and seeds
Lower your risk of heart disease by munching on 1⁄4 cup (60 millilitres) of mixed unsalted nuts and seeds a few times each week. They'll stay fresh longer if they're kept frozen.

• Lean beef
Packed with protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12, lean beef delivers nutrition without too much fat. Opt for eye of round or top round cuts.

In the fridge
• Eggs

Once maligned as cholesterol raisers, eggs have now been vindicated. People who consume up to seven eggs per week have no greater risk of high cholesterol than those who avoid eggs entirely.

• Dark leafy greens
Whether you use kale, collards or spinach, greens deliver the essential vitamins A, C and K to your diet, and they are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants.

• Plain nonfat yogurt
High in calcium, yogurt can replace sour cream or be used to make savoury tzatziki or raita. Add fruit for a sweet dessert.

• Apples

Just behind berries in antioxidant content, apples are a source of vitamin C. Plus, the phytonutrients in apples may help regulate blood sugar levels. (Check out some of our favourite apple recipes here.)

Page 1 of 2 - Find out what to have on hand in your pantry on the next page

• Skim milk
With 16 essential nutrients, including calcium and the hard-to-get vitamin D, skim milk keeps bones strong and may help keep blood pressure levels in check.

• Sweet peppers
With almost double the vitamin C content of oranges, colourful peppers add panache to everyday salads and vegetables dishes.

In the pantry
• Canned salmon

With more omega-3 fats and less mercury than tuna, salmon is a great fish choice. Opt for low-sodium versions when they're available.

• Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat pasta is lower in calories and higher in fibre, magnesium and potassium than its refined white flour cousin.

• Canned beans
With half your daily fibre requirement in one cup, chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils are must-have staples. Choose canned beans with no added salt.

• Oats
A daily breakfast of oatmeal can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Choose regular oats with no added sugar, and add your own fruit. (Find out how to make oatmeal and porridge here.)

• Olive oil
High in both heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, olive oil is great to keep on hand for quick and easy salad dressings or pastas.

• Whole grain bread
Don't be fooled by "multigrain" bread. Choose a loaf which lists a whole grain first in the ingredient list.

• Canned tomatoes
A rich source of the cancer- fighting antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes can be used in soups and sauces. Opt for tomatoes with no added salt.

• Parboiled brown rice
Now that brown rice is available parboiled (partially boiled), it takes just 10 minutes to cook. Plus, it has more fibre, B vitamins and minerals than white rice.

• Popcorn kernels
Perfect for a snack attack, air-popped popcorn has just 30 calories per cup (versus 120 calories in chips), and is considered a whole grain.

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Nutrition

Top 20 healthy ingredients to have on hand