Last week’s blog provided 10 pantry essentials for healthy, easy meals. For part two of this series, check out my 10 fridge essentials.
Eggs are a fridge staple – they are easy to prepare; can be enjoyed as a meal or snack and most of all, will not dent your grocery budget. A hardboiled egg is a portable and quick post-workout snack to help you recover and build muscle. Top a piece of toast with a scrambled or over easy style egg and some salsa for a power meal any time of the day.
Dairy is a high-quality protein that provides an excellent source of calcium and vitamin d for strong bones. Like eggs, a glass of milk can be an excellent post-workout food because of the combination of proteins and carbohydrates. Top your favorite yogurt with fruit, nuts and seeds for breakfast or snack. Use milk to prepare oatmeal or other types of hot cereal. Cheese, like grated parmesan, feta or goat cheese, adds a punch of flavor to salads and eggs and can also be a great veggie topper.
Vegetables provide essential fibers, vitamins and minerals for all bodily functions. Keep a small selection of veggies in your fridge that you can use to make salads, stir-fries, bowls, side dishes and toppings. Some of my favorite staples include romaine lettuce, radishes, carrots, celery, lemons, brussel sprouts, baby spinach, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower rice. Also, keep some frozen vegetables on hand, like spinach, peas, and edamame, for when you need something quick.
Fruit, like vegetables, provides essential fibers, vitamins and minerals for all bodily functions. Apples, pears, berries and anything seasonal stand alone as great afternoon snacks, but also can top yogurt, oatmeal and even salads for a pop of sweetness instead of dried cranberries. Store a variety of berries, bananas, mangoes, and any other fruit you like in the freezer for smoothies.
Protein provides essential building blocks for cells throughout your entire body. Chicken breast, ground turkey, salmon, tofu, beans and hummus are all versatile, high quality, low-fat proteins that can be used for salads, bowls, and tacos. Get creative and use some of those already-stored dried herbs, olive oil and a pinch of salt to add flavor and spice. Store raw chicken breasts, ground chicken and turkey as well as cooked beans in the freezer, so you’re always prepared to make something fresh at home.
Along with fruits and vegetables, whole grains provide essential fibers, vitamins and minerals. They’re easy to prepare, go with many cuisines and stay fresh in the fridge after being cooked. Try using bulgur wheat in place of rice for the base of a homemade turkey chili bowl. Quinoa adds a nice nutty taste to salads, soups and omelets. For leftovers or future meals, store cooked grains in the freezer.
Sometimes referred to as “Super Seeds,” flax, chia and hemp seeds (hearts) contain omega 3’s, fiber, protein and anti-inflammatory properties. Add one or a mix of these seeds to smoothies, yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, and even homemade granola, baked goods and veggie burgers. Quick tip–it’s best to consume flax in the ground form because it’s easier to digest. Be sure to keep the seeds in your freezer for prolonged freshness.
8. Sprouted Bread
Sprouted bread, AKA Ezekiel bread, is made from grains that have been sprouted before processing. This sprouting effect increases the nutrients’ bioavailability in your body. In other words, the nutrients are easier for your body to break down and absorb. They contain several different types of yummy grains and legumes including lentils, whole wheat, barley, spelt, millet creating a high-fiber and protein-satisfying food. A slice of sprouted bread is a great breakfast platform for any nut butter and fruit sandwich. It’s also great as a base for egg and avocado toast.
9. Fresh Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are known to have medicinal properties including enhancing your immune strength. Parsley, dill, cilantro, and basil add pops of flavor to any dish including soups, salads and eggs. Try using a mixture of herbs in a green salad and finish it with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Fresh spices such as garlic, ginger, scallions, chives and onions can be used to elevate the flavor of virtually any hot or cold dish.
10. Dips, Sauces and Condiments
Store dips such as hummus, guacamole, salsa, and tzatziki in the fridge for a hearty vegetable snack, sandwich spread, and even a salad topper. Condiments including mustard, Worcestershire, and soy sauce will add punch to salad dressings and stir-fries.
By keeping these healthy basics in your fridge, you’ll always have the groundwork to create easy and healthy meals with lots of flavor and variety. If you missed it, check out my blog post on the 10 essentials to keep in your pantry here.
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