I must say…. adjusting my shopping, cooking, and eating habits during a drawn out global pandemic that started just one WEEK after having a total knee replacement, has been challenging, to say the least. It all has had a SIGNIFICANT effect on my overall eating and exercise habits. It became easier to stock up on shelf stable food like pasta and rice and store bought canned tomatoes for my sauces rather than fresh veggies.
And a few other shelf stable treats snuck in there along the way (hello Boom Chicka Pop popcorn!) so I recently decided to take stock of my stock (no pun intended) and refresh my fridge and pantry with what I know is the best mix of fresh and shelf stable foods for me to have on hand.
Here’s what I know for sure: if the unhealthy food is there, you’re going to eat it. Once that bag of Boom Chicka Pop popcorn is open, it becomes a single “serving,” so you need to stock your kitchen for successful, healthy eating right from the start.
When you are craving a salty/crunchy snack, try pistachios instead of chips or store-bought popcorn. And get them in their shells. Studies have shown that when people eat pistachios from the shells, they eat 20% fewer nuts because the time it takes to get them out of the shell occupies your mind and the empty shells are a reminder of how many you’ve eaten. When it comes to nuts, watch the serving size! They can blow your healthy eating plans.
Have frozen chicken breasts or salmon filets available stored in individual freezer safe bags. Cook a bunch of healthy meals in a batch, eat one, and then freeze the rest. Try my latest magic trick: pre-cooked quinoa, a simple garlic and lemon and grated ginger sauce, with chicken (or fish) and vegetables. It’s so fast and it’s so easy.
Make it easy to make good meals so you won’t be tempted to order pizza.
Herbs and spices add a pop of flavor to ordinary foods and yet we are conditioned to stick with plain ol’ salt and pepper. Did you know that cinnamon is a superfood? With my family’s history of diabetes, I make sure to add cinnamon to almost every meal (it helps stabilize your blood sugar). Put a shake or two in your coffee! And cayenne pepper packs a flavor punch and will speed up metabolism.
Try fresh basil on just about everything. (Buy the plant, they end up being less expensive... yes, even if you accidentally kill it after a few uses. The trick is to treat fresh cut basil like a bouquet of flowers. Put the stems in a glass of water on your counter and loosely place a plastic bag over the “bouquet” to keep it moist!) Another trick to try: Infuse water with lemon, cucumber and basil. Delicious. Rosemary adds a ton of flavor to just about anything, and don’t underestimate the power of fresh lime juice. It’s wonderful. Experiment and find the herbs and natural flavors you love best.
Not that the occasional thin mints and ice cream don’t have their place, but make room for healthy choices in your freezer. Have frozen fruits available for when you want to make a smoothie. And flash frozen stir fry veggies on hand for when you can’t make it to the store for fresh veggies. (I always keep a big bag from Costco on hand for emergencies.)
Pretend you work for a food magazine and style food even when you’re eating alone. Buy yourself some pretty plates, cups and placemats to make the setting feel welcoming! I love purchasing beautiful fruits and vegetables to display in my kitchen and eating area as if I’m going to a photo shoot; it makes me want to eat them. And I put them in a lovely pedestal bowl from Italy to make it look like I’m dining in a Tuscan villa (I am good at squinting to ignore some of the other decor.)
You’re more likely to eat healthy snacks if that’s what you see in your living space. Set yourself up for success. If you live with other people, push their unhealthy foods to the back of the fridge or pantry. Put something healthy in front – even if it’s just bottled water or a few apples. Just making it slightly more difficult to get to the junk will help your commitment to your health..
My current favorites are:
That's how I stock my healthy kitchen!
And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to join our Healthy High Performers private community over on Facebook. It’s a great place to stay informed of when I’m releasing a new challenge, tips, or ebooks, and to keep your motivation up to set and achieve your health and lifestyle goals.