These foods will help make your dishes more nutritious and flavourful while keeping you full and satisfied.
If you’re trying to cook more nutritious meals for you and your family, a good place to start is with a well-stocked pantry full of healthy essentials. Here are some of our favourite foods to help you whip up a feel-good and delicious meal in no time.
This golden-hued, shelf-stable fat is a terrific addition to any pantry. Ghee is a form of clarified butter, meaning that all milk solids have been separated out, leaving just the pure fat behind. The result is a cooking fat with all the flavour of butter that happens to be edible for people with lactose or dairy intolerances. As a bonus, it has a naturally high smoking point, meaning that unlike other oils (such as olive oil, which has quite a low smoking point), you can cook with it at a very high temperature before it starts to break down, making it a great choice for sauteing and roasting.
If you’re a fan of luscious, thick Greek yogurt, then you will love skyr. Though not technically a yogurt itself (it’s actually a strained skim-milk cheese), skyr is very closely related to it, as it’s also made with live bacterial cultures, has a smooth texture and tastes a little bit tangy. As with most yogurt, it’s a source of calcium, and it’s often fat- and lactose-free, while still offering a whopping 20g of protein per serving, making it an excellent way to start the day with a filling breakfast. You can also use it to cut down on fat in recipes that call for sour cream, and we think it would be delicious in place of labneh with these cassis strawberry clouds.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds have a high natural fat content which can actually benefit heart health, as the fat is mostly unsaturated, and nuts are generally low in cholesterol. They’re also a source of protein (especially for people adhering to a vegetarian diet), and their fibre will help make you feel full, while contributing to your overall bowel health. Make sure to choose nuts that are raw or dry roasted and are free of added salt or sugar. Nut and seed butters are also a delicious option, but be sure to consume them in moderation—the daily recommended serving is 2 tablespoons.
Concerns about the egg consumption increasing the cholesterol in one’s diet have largely been assuaged with modern research, leaving eggs as a good source of protein and a recommended meat alternative as part of a balanced diet. They contain Vitamins A, D, E and B12, riboflavin, selenium and folate, and some types of eggs (which will be specially labelled) also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help protect against heart disease. If your budget allows for it, it’s friendlier for both the environment and the animals themselves to purchase eggs labelled “free-range,” and there is some evidence to suggest that free-range eggs might actually be more nutritious.
This brassica has so many uses, a better name for it would be caulipower. Of course, it’s delicious on its own (especially roasted), but its naturally mild flavour allows it a tremendous amount of culinary versatility. It can be a terrific substitute for high-calorie cream sauces (try these Creamy Pasta Shells, for example—you won’t miss the alfredo at all), a great swap-in for pasta if you want a lightened-up version of Mac and Cheese, and you can even use it as a substitute for rice.
There has been a lot of hype about quinoa over the past few years, and with good reason: this teeny seed is a source of complete protein, naturally gluten-free, higher in iron than most other grains, is a source of fibre and is low on the glycemic index (meaning it raises blood sugar slowly, making it a good choice for people at risk for or living with diabetes). Furthermore, it cooks up quickly — in about 18 minutes (as opposed to brown rice, which can take up to an hour to cook). What’s more, it can be adapted into a wide variety of recipes, making it just as good a choice for chili as it is for pilaf, salad or salmon cakes.
A single serving of chia seeds (about two tablespoons’ worth) has close to 4g of protein and contains almost 20% of the daily calcium needs for adults under 50. Moreover, chia seeds contain vitamin C and antioxidants to help your body defend itself against cell damage. Unlike flax seeds (which offer similar health benefits), chia doesn’t need to be ground in order for its nutrients to be absorbed by your body. Chia seeds also happen to be essentially flavourless, meaning you can sprinkle them over smoothies, salads, eggs and cereal alike without having to compromise on taste.
Homemade Energy Bites
When that 4 PM energy slump arrives, it’s tempting to reach for a late cup of coffee or a sugary pastry to get you through. Instead, there’s a much healthier way to satisfy your cravings: homemade energy bites. Naturally sweetened with dates and packed with nuts, they’re a nutritious, protein-fuelled way to have your sweets and eat ‘em too. There are lots of recipes available for making your own at home, but we’re partial to our Zesty Chocolate Energy Bites.