Being cooped up in your house doesn’t mean you have to survive on frozen pizza and potato chips. Processed convenience foods can often be loaded with added fat and salt. Instead, stock your kitchen with a variety of healthy foods to enable you to whip up quick, nourishing meals that are both delicious and nutritious. Whether you are buying your own groceries, or having them delivered, here are staple foods to encourage healthy eating:
- Canned beans: A good source of both fiber and protein, beans can be rinsed and eaten right from the can. Throw them on salads or pasta, add them to soup, or use them in chili or burritos. If you’re watching your sodium intake, look for canned beans that say “low sodium” or “no salt added.”*
- Eggs: Easy to make and versatile, eggs are a great source of protein and other nutrients. Scramble them, hard-boil them or use them as ingredients in other dishes. Note: Egg whites provide plenty of protein minus the cholesterol that’s found in the yolk, and two egg whites can be substituted for one whole egg.
- Lean protein: Grill, broil or bake chicken, fish or lean beef. Add the lean protein to a stir-fry, or toss it into a salad. For even more versatility, sauté ground turkey or chicken, or meatless options like tofu or tempeh, and add to chili, tacos or spaghetti sauce.
- Pre-prepped vegetables: Whether the vegetables you have on hand are fresh, frozen or canned, they can all be the foundation for a healthy meal or snack. Munch on grape tomatoes and baby carrots, sprinkle frozen peas on pasta, or toss diced tomatoes into chili. If you’re watching your sodium intake, choose frozen or canned vegetables with no added salt.
- Nut butters: Nut and seed butters (peanut, almond, sunflower) are perfect for spreading on toast with sliced bananas. They also make a scrumptious dip for crunchy apple slices, celery sticks or strips of green pepper. Nut butters have about 100 calories per tablespoon, so be aware of your portion sizes.
- Grains: Quick-cooking grains like whole-wheat couscous, instant brown rice or quinoa are the building blocks for nutritious meals you can create in 15 minutes or less. Toss the prepared grain with cooked vegetables, add some protein like chicken, fish, beans or tofu, and voila — you’ve got an entire meal in one dish!
* Note: The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) defines “low sodium” as 140 milligrams of sodium or less per serving.
Provided by Caryn Alter, MS, RD, FAND, Registered Dietitian at the Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center.